(At HUNT THE DEVIL, we focus on critiques of political myths. Occasionally, we post versions of foundational American myths that have shaped our culture. The following retells Pat Garrett’s account of the death of Billy the Kid as found in his book, The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid. Tainted by the spirit of Sam Peckinpah’s great western, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973), and by the fatal airs of Bob Dylan’s musical score, it narrates the story of Youth killed by Old before Old settles into a new station in life. Highlighting this theme, in Peckinpah’s film the law and order officers are played by old actors who frequently appeared in westerns (Coburn, Chill Wills, Slim Pickens, Katy Jurado, etc.); young rock stars from the 1960s (Kristofferson, Dylan, Rita Coolidge) play the outlaws.
The myth considers Billy a hero not because he was an outlaw, but because he was young.)