The soundtrack I chose to analyze is from the film Smokey and The Bandit. The film is about a famous trucker nicknamed “The Bandit” who makes an eighty-thousand-dollar bet with a wealthy business man. The wager is that Bandit can drive his big rig from Atlanta to Texarkana, pick up four hundred cases of Coors beer, and drive back to Atlanta in under twenty-eight hours. Many people have attempted this bet and all have failed. To add to the thrill, in the time that this film was released (1977) hauling Coors beer east of Texas was considered illegal bootlegging.
At the very beginning of the movie the song “The Legend” by Jerry Reed is played. Jerry Reed also co-stars in the movie as “Snowman” Bandit’s partner in crime. The song’s purpose is to introduce our main character Bandit. I would describe the song as a slow paced country song with emphasis on the lyrics rather than the instruments. The song is meant to appeal to the viewer’s ethos. The opening line to the song is “You heard about the legend of Jesse James and John Henry just to mention some names/Well there's a truck drivin' legend in the south today/A man called Bandit from Atlanta GA/Every gear jammer knows his name/They swear he’s got ice water runnin' in his veins/A foot like lead and nerves like steel”. We read in chapter three that “Whenever you read anything whether it’s a news article, an advertisement, a speech, or a text message you no doubt subconsciously analyze the message for a sense of the character and credibility of the sender” (Lunsford et al. 40). We learn that our protagonist Bandit is not your everyday truck driver, rather that he is a “Legend” among all big rig truck drivers. Later on when we learn of the seemingly impossible bet the Bandit makes, we know if anyone can do it, it is him.
The main theme song in the movie is titled “East Bound And Down” by Jerry Reed. The song is a fast paced country song with a strong banjo playing throughout. The song’s lyrics are essentially the synopsis of the movie. The chorus goes “East bound and down load it up and truck it/We gonna do what they say can't be done/We've got a long way to go and a short time to get there/I'm east bound just watch ol' Bandit run”. Anytime the song plays Bandit is outrunning the police known as “Smokeys” throughout the film. It makes the mood of the film exciting as the Bandit whips his Trans AM across the back roads of the South. The song uses humor to appeal to the viewer’s emotions or pathos; by making the viewer believe that the Bandit and Snowman are going to achieve their goal and win the bet. We read that “You can slip humor into an argument to put readers at ease, thereby making them more open to a proposal you have to offer” (Lunsford et al. 36). Viewers would find it hard to believe that one man could out run the entire Georgia highway patrol, but every time the song plays, Bandit proves us wrong by tricking every “Smokey” into crashing or simply going the wrong way, leaving them in his dust.
Lunsford, A. A., Ruszkiewicz, J. J., Walters, K., & Lunsford, U. A. A. (2016). Everything’s an argument: With readings (7th ed.). Boston, MA, United States: Bedford Books.
Smokey and the Bandit. Dir. Hal Needham. Perf. Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, and Jerry Reed. Universal 8 Films, 1977. DVD. Web.
Rating: 5 nachos