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These Are the Classic Westerns Beyoncé Says Inspired ‘Cowboy Carter’

Beyoncé looked to fellow cultural titans to lasso inspiration for her new album “Cowboy Carter.”

The Grammy winner and “Dreamgirls” actress, who recently appeared in theaters with her “Renaissance” concert film, shared that she watched features such as Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” and Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” to craft her own “character” behind her debut country album.

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“This album took over five years,” Beyoncé said in an official press release. “It’s been really great to have the time and the grace to be able to take my time with it. I was initially going to put ‘Cowboy Carter’ out first [before ‘Renaissance’], but with the pandemic, there was too much heaviness in the world. We wanted to dance. We deserved to dance. But I had to trust God’s timing.”

That timing also encompassed the release of additional features that influenced Beyoncé’s vision for the album, including a mix of modern Westerns and classic genre films. The multi-hyphenate talent listed films such as “Five Fingers for Marseilles,” “Urban Cowboy,” “The Hateful Eight, “Space Cowboys,” “The Harder They Fall,” and “Killers of the Flower Moon” as movies she watched during the recording process.

The “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack also served as a foundational tool for the bluegrass-esque percussion on “Cowboy Carter.” Even “Thelma and Louise” was a jumping-off point for the concept behind the tracks.

Per the press release, “Cowboy Carter” is a “body of work [that] undulates from singing cowboy and Blaxploitation to Spaghetti westerns and fantasy with Beyoncé weaving between personal experiences, honoring Black history, to exaggerated character building. The limited-edition vinyl depicts a microphone in the shape of a gun á la ‘Thelma and Louise’ running from the law, but the gun is invisible, hyper-exaggerated reality.”

Beyoncé’s Cowboy Carter character was “inspired by the original Black cowboys of the American West. The word cowboy itself was used in a derogatory way to describe the former slaves as ‘boys,’ who were the most skilled and had the hardest jobs of handling horses and cattle, alike. In destroying the negative connotation, what remains is the strength and resiliency of these men who were the true definition of Western fortitude.”

Beyoncé said, “The joy of creating music is that there are no rules. The more I see the world evolving the more I felt a deeper connection to purity. With artificial intelligence and digital filters and programming, I wanted to go back to real instruments, and I used very old ones. I didn’t want some layers of instruments like strings, especially guitars, and organs perfectly in tune. I kept some songs raw and leaned into folk. All the sounds were so organic and human, everyday things like the wind, snaps and even the sound of birds and chickens, the sounds of nature.”

The singer-songwriter revealed that she “recorded probably 100 songs,” but only 27 made it to the final album.

“I think people are going to be surprised because I don’t think this music is what everyone expects,” she said, “but it’s the best music I’ve ever made.”

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