Movies Based on Country Songs

I’ve noticed that for some reason, there are many movies based on country music songs- convoy, coal miner’s daughter, rhinestone, take this job and shove it, amoung others. On the other hand, I can’t think of any other kinds of songs that had movies based on them. I guess the purpose of this thread is ask why this is, and ask how many examples of this phenomenon everyone can think of.

“Sweet Dreams” was based on the life of country superstar Patsy Cline. From growing up poor, to her untimely death. The film is filled with many of PC’s biggest songs, including the title. She was probably the first crossover star to really hit it big. Her recordings continue to sell well, and I believe she could hold her own against today’s C&W singers. There was a movie which was based on the life of John Philip Sousa[played by Clifton Webb], entitled “Stars and Stripes Forever.” Full of rousing, are there any other kind of Sousa, marches. Does that fit your parameters? Interesting thread, thanks for the opportunity to post about it.

I honestly can’t think of movies based on country songs, but I can think of movies based on singers.

The Buddy Holly Story
La Bamba (the Ritchie Valens story)
Great Balls of Fire (Jerry Lee Lewis)

And FWIW, Coal Miner’s Daughter was based on the life of Loretta Lynn, not on the song. :slight_smile:

I honestly think that Rhinestone Cowboy was made as a movie, and then the song created for and added to the sdtk. YMMV.

The Gambler was also a song long before the movie/miniseries was ever created, so I guess that fits your criteria.


Didn’t they do a movie about The Ballad of the Green Berets?

Or was the song based on the movie?

Harper Valley PTA became a movie starring Barbara Eden (IIRC)

They’re doing a Sk8er Boi movie. I expect it to win an Oscar.

“Ode to Billy Joe” was made into a movie in '75

Well, I never saw it, but I’m pretty sure there was a movie based on “Take This Job and Shove It.” I seem to recall it starred Robert (“Airplane!”) Hays.

And there was definitely a Sam Peckinpah adaptation of C.W. McCall’s “Convoy.”

I think this thread would not be complete without mention of Coward of the County!!

I see now that the OP already mentioned both movies I cited- sorry for not reading more carefully.

But as for why… well, two reasons come to mind. First, when studios make a movie, they like to have a built-in audience. That’s why there are so many movies based on old TV shows- because millions of people have already SEEN those shows, and are pre-disposed to want to see it. In the same way, if a song is a huge hit, there’s a ready-made audience for a movie based on that song.

Now, why should COUNTRY songs be adapted into movies more often than rock or disco songs? Well, I’ll let Charlie “the Bird” Parker answer that. Believe it or not, Charlie was a huge fan of country music. And when someone asked him WHY he was pumping money into a jukebox to hear country songs (which most jazz purists scoffed at), Parker said, “The STORIES, man. You gotta listen to the STORIES.”

Very few rock or disco songs tell a story. I mean, even if Hollywood WANTED to make a movie out of, say, “Stairway To Heaven” or “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” how would they do it? There’s no story, there are no characters!

But a huge number of the most popular country songs, over the years, have told stories- and those are the songs you can build a movie around.

astorian writes:

> I mean, even if Hollywood WANTED to make a movie out of,
> say, “Stairway To Heaven” or “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” how
> would they do it? There’s no story, there are no characters!

There’s lots of story in “Stairway to Heaven” and lots of characters. In fact, there’s half a dozen different stories and at least as many characters. See where we talk about all of them in this thread?:

The song is about both Arwen and Galadriel and lots of other parts of The Lord of the Rings. And it’s about Celtic mythology and ritual magick and the Virgin Mary and some superficial woman that Robert Plant once dated. And it’s about all the drugs that Plant was using when he wrote the song. So all you have to do to make a movie of it is to include all those stories and characters simultaneously. I await your script.

Basically, you have to look for ‘story’ songs, and there just aren’t that many story songs in rock, as compared to country.

“The Gambler” maybe qualifies. It made it onto the pop charts.

How about “Crossroads”? It was sort of based on the Robert Johnson song. I think there have been one or two other movies based on old blues standards.

A couple of Warren Zevon songs have been titles of movies. “Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead”, and “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead”. But the plots of those movies have nothing to do with the songs.

“I Walk The Line” One of Gregory Pecks least famous roles.

Vicki Lawrence’s “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” and Jimmie Dean’s “Big Bad John” were made into movies.

As mentioned previously, country music has a narrative tradition that lends itself to movie-ization, but folk music has it, too. The Kingston Trio’s revival of “Tom Dooley” resulted in the film “The Legend of Tom Dooley,” for example.

Here are some movies that were based (or sort-of based) on prior hit songs:
Just a Gigolo (1979), with David Bowie.
Can’t Buy Me Love (1987)
Staying Alive (1983)
*I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978, Robert Zemeckis dir.)
Can’t Stop the Music
Detroit Rock City
Alice’s Restaurant (I think that predated the movie, though not by much)

Singles Bars, Single Women
The Red Headed Stranger
- really based on the Willie Nelson concept album.