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A Soundtrack to ‘Lee, Myself and I’

Curator of Love and Other Crimes: The Songs of Lee Hazlewood, Wyndham Wallace – Hazlewood’s manager and friend during the last years of his life – shares a special playlist to accompany his book, Lee, Myself & I: Inside The Very Special World Of Lee Hazlewood.

‘This playlist attempts to provide a soundtrack to Lee, Myself & I, an account of my work and friendship with the great singer, songwriter, producer and entrepreneur Lee Hazlewood that also tries to tell the story of his life. Each track is accompanied by a short excerpt from the book that hopefully sheds a little light on it. Not all of these songs were performed or written by Lee, but they’re intrinsic to the story I tell.’
Wyndham Wallace

Leather & Lace, Lee Hazlewood
A softly plucked guitar opens the next tune, a simple arpeggio that rolls by four times before the voice is back, lazy, seemingly as stoned as I now feel, echoing as though floating along damp granite corridors from a far-off prison cell. ‘Leather and lace,’ it intones, all distant and cavernous, ‘hanging in place’—now soft and loving—‘and the fire was as warm as the wine …’

Summer Wine, Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood
‘One day Mo Ostin, who was the head of Reprise, called me up and said four cities wanted to take “Summer Wine” and put it out as a single. I said, “It was never put together as a single, and it won’t be put out as a single.” Mo talked to me and talked to me, and his wife, who I was madly in love with. I said I’d talk to Nancy. She said, “Well, it doesn’t surprise me,” and I said, “Well, it surprises the hell out of me!”

The Fool, Sanford Clark
‘I wrote a cowboy song once, three or four chords, and I thought it might really do good in the cowboy market. I was very young and dumb. Al Casey put a blues lick on it that the world still knows, and my dumb cowboy song—which, by the way, is a little Shakespearean, gather-round-me-buddies, hold-your-glasses-high, not your typical cowboy song—well, it didn’t sell anything cowboy, but damn did it sell pop! Suddenly I was a pop writer!’

Your Thunder & Your Lightning, Lee Hazlewood
‘I’ve taken this song to at least twenty or thirty artists, and what they usually say is, “You know, Lee, when you write a song it’s got two, three, four hidden meanings in it. But, boy! With this one you just put it out! It’s too personal. It’s …”’—he lowers his voice—‘“… it’s dirty …” And I said, “Oh, my God! A dirty Hazlewood song? That’s a wonder, isn’t it?”’

Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On, Lee Hazlewood
‘I’ve never been fond of a record more than this. But I think they did it wrong. You hate to tell an artist who’s sold two or three million records that he did it wrong. But to me it’s a love poem, and it should have been done as a love poem. So, tonight, I’m going to do this song the way it should have been done.’

Souls Island, Lee Hazlewood
It was another beautiful afternoon as we landed in Gotland, the sun streaming over the landscape, lifting Lee’s mood as, swelling with pride, he explained how the colours on the island were so loud that they had to be muted on film: ‘The blues are too blue, the greens are too green, and the sky is pink.’

Sugar Town, Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood
‘I remember going to a club where there were all these kids eating sugar lumps. And I asked a friend what the hell they were doing. “Oh, they’re taking acid,” he said. And that’s why I wrote “Sugar Town”. And, by the way, none of the radio stations knew I was writing about kids taking acid, but that’s ’cos the censors only see things literally.’

These Boots Are Made For Walkin’, Nancy Sinatra
‘“You’ve been messing where you shouldn’t have been a’messing?” Messing? That’s the F-word in Texas! When someone tells you they’ve been out messing around, you know they didn’t spend the night alone!’

Some Velvet Morning, Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood
Lee and Nancy’s pinnacle achievement is arguably ‘Some Velvet Morning’. It leaves me speechless each and every time I hear it, the flower-power romance at its heart transformed into an unnerving psychedelic trip, its eroticism twinned with doom.

It Was a Very Good Year, Lee Hazlewood
Frank Sinatra covered it, too, though somehow I’ve never encountered his version, but if it’s better than the one we listen to now, as I sit at Lee’s feet by the stereo, then there must be a God. I watch a broad smile creep across Lee’s face, one that confirms the true warmth of the man beneath the obstinate exterior. It’s a smile I know and love, and I’ve never been happier to have helped provoke it.

Jackson, Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood
‘We did that in three takes in Nashville,’ Lee announces proudly, turning back to Nancy with a laughing face. ‘It’s because I didn’t want to spend anything on overtime. I was cheap even with your dad’s money.’

My Autumn’s Done Come, Lee Hazlewood
There’s an intimacy to his sketches, too, whether of himself or others, and on ‘My Autumn’s Done Come’, written when he was only in his mid-thirties, he even poignantly imagines his dotage: ‘Kiss all the pretty ones goodbye / Give everyone a penny that cries / You can throw all my tranquil pills away / Let my blood pressure go on its way / ’cos my autumn’s done come.’

Hilli (At The Top Of The World), Amiina featuring Lee Hazlewood
Every time I hear it, it makes me think of him more fondly than I can sometimes bear. The sound of that voice, and the sentimentality with which he managed to deliver my childish words, and the gravity that he gave them, and the power and dignity which he maintained right up to the end: they’re all in this song. Indeed, the first time I heard it, only days after he died, I dropped to my knees in front of the stereo and wept, especially when the brass—which had been missing from the original version of the song and recorded especially for this new one—burst forth out of the speakers like paint powder thrown into water.

Listen to the full playlist on the Barbican Spotify.

Love and Other Crimes: The Songs of Lee Hazlewood takes place on Sunday 25 October in the Hall.