Lee Hazlewood: Didn’t He Ramble

Lee Hazlewood: July 9, 1929 – August 4, 2007
photo from MySpace

This weekend marked the unfortunate passing of an idiosyncratic icon, Lee Hazlewood, after a long battle with renal cancer. Hazlewood, whose collaborations with Nancy Sinatra marked the height of his fame (“These Boots Are Made for Walking” and “Some Velvet Morning” in particular), recorded and produced a variety of country and pop musicians, while releasing his own albums consistently throughout the 60’s and 70’s. It was only relatively recently, however, that Hazlewood’s albums found the recognition they deserved in the U.S., thanks to interest and a cover album by such bands as Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Calexico, and Sonic Youth, whose drummer Steve Shelly rereleased Hazlewood’s albums on his label Smells Like Records. While reinterpretations like those on Astralwerk’s Total Lee! are certainly appealing, what he’ll likely be remembered for most is his deep, deadpan baritone on Trouble Is a Lonesome Town (a dark musical correlation to Sherwood Anderson’s modernist classic Winesburg, Ohio), Requiem for an Almost Lady, and Poet, Fool Or Bum.

Despite working with popular musicians in his early career, such as Duane Eddy, Waylon Jennings, and Dean Martin, Hazlewood remained in the fringes, mostly by his own design. During his lifetime, he moved frequently, drifting between states that demanded no income tax and eventually settled in Sweden for a while (where he recorded among other albums Cowboy in Sweden). After he came out of retirement in the 90’s, Hazlewood remained productive and released one final album, Cake or Death, as he dealt with his terminal condition. While remaining positive about his own productive life, Hazlewood never compromised his beliefs, which are evident in this song (thanks to Stereogum) and video from the last album. For more about Lee Hazlewood and his final days, go here.

Lee Hazlewood – It’s Nothing To Me (MP3)

Lee Hazlewood – Bagdad Knights

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One Comment

  1. Posted August 8, 2007 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    A sad loss – but his growling, amazing voice lives on. I’ve posted a small tribute to the man on lozman2.blogspot.com

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