PSYCHEDELIC COWBOY IN SWEDEN | THE LONG ARM OF LEE HAZLEWOOD

“Lee came to Coolidge (AZ) while I was still going to high school, and he had just gone to a disc jockey school… a broadcasting school, I guess they called it– Columbia School of Broadcasting in Hollywood. He graduated that, and he got his first job.  And it happened to be as a disc jockey– and it happened to be in Coolidge, Arizona. So, I had a friend who wanted to be a disc jockey at the time, and he said, ‘You gotta come out and meet this new guy– he’s really a hoot. Ya know, really funny and all this, and he’s playing Country music.’  So, I went along with him, and I met Lee Hazlewood the first time.”

“At that time, uh, I used to sing… and play too.  And I sang with this other guy, Jimmy Dell.  We sang together– we did up-tempo Country things… just around town there, you know, mostly.  Lee heard that, and like it, and we went in and tried to make a record of that… the two of us with some songs that Lee wrote– his first attempt at songwriting. His first attempt at producing, we went up to Phoenix to someone’s studio… in the back of their house, and well– it was the only studio we knew of.  It was, like, 1954– late ’54 or ’55. And uh, we made a couple of tracks.”

“Lee was gonna put it out on his own label, but Jimmy went and got ‘saved.’  And uh, came in one day and said, ‘I’m saved!’ and I said, ‘Saved from what?!’ And he says, ‘No, in church!’ And I said, ‘Oh, great! Congratulations.’ And he says, ‘Yeah, well, it’s not so good.’ and I says, ‘what’s the matter?’ Jimmy said, ‘I can’t sing with you no more.’ And I says, ‘Oh. Why not?’  He said, ‘Because I can’t sing worldly music no more.’ And I said, ‘oh, oh, well you get to tell Lee that then– he’s just invested all this money in these records.’ So they ended-up sitting in Lee’s garage– and never did get out…”

“So that’s how I met Lee.  Later that year he moved to Phoenix, and got a job at a Country station up there, KRUX. And it turns out he was the first one to ever play Elvis Presley in Phoenix, on the Sun label.  A guy there, brought these records from  down in Texas, a local Country artist who got on a show with Elvis, and he brought these records back and played them for Lee– and Lee thought they were great. So he scheduled them, and started playing them, and it caused all kinds of ruckus! He almost got fired over it… It was a big change!  You know, Elvis doing ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky’ like that, and all…”   –Duane Eddy

From DJ, to producer, to songwriter/lyricist and singer– Lee Hazlewood would produce a striking string of hits over his career– first with the young guitar legend, Duane Eddy, and later with the down-on-her-luck daughter of a true American icon, Frank Sinatra.

Nancy and Lee were an oddly powerful duo. His thinly-veiled lyrics of drugs and decadence were delivered with such wooden stoicism that nary a soil thought twice. But when Nick Cave himself cites you as one of his biggest influences– you must have been doing something wrong, oh so right. Hazlewood created a signature moody sound– filled reverb, space and mood a-plenty.  Phantasmagoric, at times.

And while his sound had psychedlic elements, he was anything but a hippy, or even Rock ‘n’ Roll. It filled a void in radio that no one else could. Brought up in Oklahoma, and ramblin’ ’round Texas, Arkansas and Arizona in his early days– he had little chance of running into anything remotely hip or forward– he truly crafted his own niche unlike what anyone else was doing.  In fact, he was so unhip, that he was truly ahead of the times. He made “uncool” cool. The Beck of his day, but without the looks and moves.

That’s right– Beck.

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A LOVE FOR THE OLD WILD WEST | VINTAGE AMERICANA POSTCARDS

Yes, I have a thing for vintage linen postcards– with old Curt Teich works being at the top of that list.  I also love the lore of the American Wild West (the maverick, pioneer spirit lines-up well with my own modus operandi)– bowlegged, dusty cowboys with tobacco-stained fingers and hooded eyes, and the soulful sages that we call Native Americans with their incredible art, customs and culture.  I could feast on these beautiful little pieces of art for days.

1917 — American Map Showing Vital Spot to Hit to Kill the American Spirit of Justice. — Image by © Lake County Museum/Corbis

Circa 1925, Pendleton, Oregon — There are many tribes of Indians in the Northwest and they live on reservations. The Bannocks and the Nezperces of Idaho, the Umatillas of Oregon and the Yakimas of Washington are the chief tribes. Fishing and hunting is part of their livelihood. They have great meetings at the rodeos where they parade in war costumes and perform their tribal dances. — Image by © Lake County Museum/Corbis

Circa 1943, Elk City, Oklahoma — Texas Kid, Jr., Riding “Joe Louis.” A past time Range Sport of the Pioneer Southwest, being reproduced by a crack rider during Woodword Elks Rodeo. Stock furnished by Beutler Bros., Elk City, Okla. — Image by © Lake County Museum/Corbis

Circa 1939, San Antonio, Texas — OLD “TEX,” the best known specimen of that hardy race of cattle, the famous TEXAS-LONGHORN, escaped the early day cowboys who herded and drove them to distant railroad shipping points. He roamed the prairies of Southwest Texas to an undetermined age and is now full body mounted as shown and stands as one of outstanding exhibits in the Buckhorn Curio Store Museum, originally the Famous Buckhorn Bar in San Antonio, Texas. — Image by © Lake County Museum/Corbis

Circa 1933 — NAVAJO INDIANS SPINNING YARN FOR RUGS. Navajo Indian Rugs are famed the world over for their beauty and durability. In infancy children receive the ambition to create designs which express their understanding of life, supply, or surroundings. No two rugs are designed identical. The picture shows one rug just completed, and the never idle fingers are spinning yarn from the raw wool and preparing for another rug of some design which inspired thoughts have conceived. — Image by © Lake County Museum/Corbis

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VICIOUS WHITE KIDS | THE SEX PISTOLS TAKE ON ROCK ‘N ROLL & THE SOUTH

10 Mar 1977, London, England, UK — The punk rock group, The Sex Pistols, are about to be moved by a policeman as they sign a copy of their new recording contract with A & M Records outside Buckingham Palace. The next record to be released is called “God Save the Queen”. The band members (from far left to right) are John Lydon, Steve Jones, Paul Cook and Sid Vicious. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

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I’m not gonna lie– life has been kicking my ass a little lately. It’s got me wantin’ to spit, sneer, and swear like Sid Vicious.  But instead, I’ll humbly take my licks and lumps, and keep on pluggin’ along the best I know how.  I actually have a feelin’ this could end up being one helluva year– for TSY and beyond.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it here before, but I spend a ton of time in Dallas for business.  I’ve been going down for years, and know it pretty well.  Calling it my 2nd home is not a stretch by any means– it’s a cool town, and I’m very comfortable there.  Lots of great people and good eats.

So, Friday I was having lunch at El Fenix with my buddy Bruce, who’s a few years older than me, and outta nowhere I ask him, “Hey, man– were you in Texas back in ’78 when the Sex Pistols rolled through on tour?  You remember them?”

Well, his face lit-up like a Christmas tree as he said, “You mean that Sid Vicious kid?  Yeah man, of course I remember it.  It was a mess!  He was runnin’ his mouth, spittin’, and swingin’ that bass around like a baseball bat on stage– mowin’ people down.  They wanted to kill him!”

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The Sex Pistols’ infamous Dallas, Texas show marquee at the Longhorn Ballroom (once owned by Jack Ruby) back in January of 1978– “Sid was really f*cked up. Really drunk. He played for a while without his guitar plugged in. He played for a while with a fish. I think somebody threw it up there, a bass or something. People seemed pissed at him. He’d spit on the audience; they’d spit on him. That’s what you did. There was this element of, ‘You paid to see us play?'”— The Austin Chronicle

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