Thursday, August 09, 2007

SAND RUNS OUT - Hazlewood Dies at 78

Sort of like a cross between Johnny Cash and Sonny Bono, Lee Hazlewood had a tough, almost literally flat voice and he was best when it contrasted to a similar female one. With Cher already taken, this cowpoke prodded Nancy Sinatra into stardom for them both. First he shaped Nancy from a sweet "Daddy's Daughter" performer into a painted, tainted boot-stompin' tough gal, then he began to duet with her.
Barton Lee Hazlewood, who died last Saturday, wrote "These Boots are Made for Walkin'" and the neatly nasty follow-up, "How Does That Grab Ya Darlin'?" He hit the charts with her on "Jackson" and "Summer Wine," and they made several albums including the fairly recent "Nancy and Lee 3" which failed to get a UK or USA release, even though it had some excellent tracks amid some corn and a few clinkers. Nancy sounds particularly good and Lee's a formidable octave lower. A sample of how good it could get is below; "She Won't."
Like Jimmy Webb, Lee Hazlewood could write both solid rock and soggy pop (remember Nancy's "Sugar Town"?)...but also like Webb, the Okie rarely got attention on his own solo CDs.
He knew he was dying when he put the finishing touches on "Cake or Death" the title a clue that this would be both sweet and sour, a sometimes cute often caustic musical brew of coffee, Bovril and saki. His voice was pretty strong, though not on "Boots," which does have lounge-cool brass, a twangy-guitar (he did work with Duane Eddy) and gives you the original, more masculine melody line. The lyrics are the same (including that great bit of poetic illiteracy, "you keep lyin' when you oughta be truthin').
My first choice for a salute goes back to the Cowboy Lee and Lady Nancy days, when their unrequited sexual tension was hottest (he was married) and he was moving past Ol' Blue Eyes as the main mentor and influence in her life.
"Sand," is really just a truckstop one-nighter, but producer-genius Lee uses courtly dress-up (catch the word "thee"?), Doors-type pseudo clever "fire" analogies, and shoves Beatles backward-tape psychedelia into the middle to take the concept of froggy guy and frosty princess to new depths and heights simultaneously. Or as we dudes say; "Sweet!"
Nancy: "Oh sir, my fire is burning high. If it should stop, sir, I would die. The shooting star has crossed my land. A wandering man."
Lee: "She whispered SAND...young woman shared her fire with me. Now warms herself with memory. I was a stranger in her land. A wanderin' man. She called me Sand."
Get it? Sand ran out on her. Sand bagged her. So many more of these, which you couldn't think of if he was named Grits.

SAND Instant download or listen on line.
SHE WON'T (from the last Nancy and Lee album, released only in Australia) Instant download or listen on line.

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