I still absolutely love this song, just been revisiting it after a bit of a break from Western Stars. I also definitely prefer the studio version to the film version.
The strings are much more prominent on the film version, and I'd actually never really noticed them on the studio version before, but they're definitely there behind the pedal steel.
Then, being slightly nerdy, I noticed that there are no string players credited for MM on the album. So I guess these are synth strings or samples? And if so, having basically hired an orchestra to record the whole album, why did Bruce not include them in this track?
I guess if he recorded some solo basic tracks with synths and then recorded the orchestra parts separately, maybe he just felt the atmosphere of this track wasn't suited to the orchestra (which could explain why the film version doesn't quite seem to match the studio version for me at least). Or is there another reason?
If anyone has any suggestions I'd be glad to hear them as these are things that go around my head in these dark days of lock down and social distancing!