Who Is John Wayne In Lady Gaga's 'Joanne' Song? The Western Hero Is The Singer's Fantasy
Lady Gaga's long anticipated fifth album Joanne has arrived, and the Queen of Monsters is channeling a much more down to earth persona this time around. Nowhere is Lady Gaga's new sound more apparent than in "John Wayne," a song named after the iconic hero of westerns like True Grit and The Searchers. John Wayne the man has little to do with Lady Gaga's anthem to country boys, but his standing as the ultimate hero of the wild west works as a perfect metaphor for Gaga's craving for a man who can embrace his wild side.
There is a major fantasy element running throughout "John Wayne." Lady Gaga was born and raised in New York City, about as far away from the west as an American can get. In the song, she sings about a desire to meet a man who doesn't have the city running through his veins. "Every John is just the same, I'm sick of their city games," Gaga says. Instead, she wants someone who is "blue collar and a red state treasure."
The song is thick with irony as even her love affair with a wild man with old school male attributes burns out in a mere three days. That's because John Wayne has always been a symbol for a man that doesn't really exist. There are no purely honorable, straight shooting cowboys out there, and there never have been. Even as Gaga tries to find an alternative to all those city guys, she realizes she's chasing a celluloid dream.
"I'm strung out on John Wayne," Gaga croons, and it's a sentiment everyone can relate to. No matter where you're from, you always daydream about the places and people you have never met. The John Wayne in Gaga's song is an idealized fantasy of a hard working, salt of the earth type, who chugs beers and rides motorcycles. He's the type of man you see on the cover of supermarket romance novels. Of course, a lifelong city dweller like Gaga would romanticize the idea of a real life cowboy, just like a small town woman would fantasize about a suit-wearing, smooth-talking New Yorker.
"John Wayne" is about desire, daydreams, and the mythical figure of the American cowboy. The real John Wayne was just as complicated and problematic as any other person, but onscreen he was larger than life. Everyone, including Gaga, wishes there were real John Waynes roaming around, just waiting to take you on a wild west adventure.
The truth is far less thrilling, but Gaga's cheeky ode to one of America's most iconic men is sure to resonate with every woman who has idly dreamed about meeting a real life hero and then riding off into the proverbial sunset — even if it was only for a moment.