"One Step"


Charlie and his trusty Bolex 16mm camera filming at George Lance’s Old Ada (OK) Rodeo in 1974.

“One Step” (c) Charles Stacey

"One Step" is a song that mixes non-fiction and fiction.  I was a cameraman (non-fiction) but thanks to having polio as a small child was 4F with my local draft board so I didn’t get to go to Viet Nam like so many of my classmates.  My first rodeo to film was in 1970 and just before the bull riding event a fellow in clown suit introduced himself and he explained that he was the bull fighter and his job was to distract the bull and draw him away from the cowboy at the end of the cowboy’s ride.  He remarked that I must be new to the rodeo filming business and I asked why he would say that.  “The cowboy boots give you away” was his reply.  I responded that this was a rodeo and what else would you wear.  “Cowboy boots are for riding, tennis shoes are for running - and you will need to be running” was his answer.  He explained “the bull is meaner than you and faster than you and he wants very much to hurt you” but his is how it works.  You film till the cowboy is bucked off then stop and begin to run because my job is to get the cowboy away and when I do that the bull will look around and you are the next thing he’ll see.  No matter how fast you run, he’ll be faster - BUT - this is what you do.  Run with your hand back and only run as fast as you can comfortably run.  When you feel the breath of the bull on your hand you know he has caught up with you and you slap at his nose.  All you have to do is make contact.  He’ll stop, plant his feet and hook his head because he thinks he got you.  But you keep running and you stay one step ahead - BUT - ALL YOU NEED IS ONE STEP.” He continued: "As soon as I can I’ll come and engage the bull and then we’ll have some real fun.”  I tried it and it worked and I always thought it was also the most amazing advice for dealing with life.  It took a number of years to finally put all the pieces together.  The Viet Nam images I took from narratives of friends and co-workers who were there and the last part about seeing the light I just made up.  The young bull fighter turned out to be Quail Dobbs who went on to become one of the most famous and beloved of all rodeo clowns and bull fighters.

© Charles Stacey 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018