As part of our celebration of the life and works of Lee Hazlewood this month, we asked some of the musicians who will be joining us at Love & Other Crimes: The Songs of Lee Hazlewood, to share some of their favourite songs – and explain the reasons for their choices.
Introducing this nostalgic playlist, Lawrence (Felt, Denim, Go Kart Mozart) gets inspired by his love of Hazlewood’s frequently idiosyncratic sleeve notes.
London – Sept – 2015 – Time 20:40
LEE LEY & THE LEYLINES TO YOUR SOUL – TRAVERSE THAT FRICTIVE SPARK – ENERGY ON AN ELEVATOR GOIN’ DIRECT INTO YOUR HEART – HEAVY HAIR ON THE UPPER LIP TO FREAKSQUARE – DANCE ON A TIN TABLE IN YOUR VICTORIAN CLOGS – STEPPIN’ ON THE APPALACHIAN HOBO LINE – YO HO HO & A BOTTLE OF YOUR FINEST – TAKE THAT CEEGAR & GIVE IT A TWIST – AS YOUR 21ST CENTURY ICON DISAPPEARS INTO THE MIST –
FIR TREES FERMENT IN A BED OF SNOW – IN EUROPE THE WINTERS CAN GO TWENTY BELOW – SAINT LEE RIDES THE REINDEER IT’S ALL HO HO HO – TRY WHISLING HIS TUNES IT’S NOT THAT HARD TO DO – DUST COTTON BOBBINS FEEDING WEAVING LOOMS – MAKE ME A MUSTACHIO & I’LL WEAR IT TOO! – HERE ARE MY WORDS OF RESPECT – THEY ARE FROM ME TO YAHOO! –
MR LEE LEYLINES I THINK I FRIGGIN LOVE YOU Lawrence
First Street Blues (The N.S.V.I.P.s)
Most every Hazlewood song is laced with sorrow, regret and confession, but like all great whisky songs, it explains it wasn’t me, it was the whisky. Hard to beat Hazlewood’s own ‘rye’ delivery of this great song, but also much loved is Mick Harvey’s fantastic 2005 cover.
If It’s Monday Morning (Requiem For An Almost Lady)
‘This song’s from Hazlewood’s break up album. It’s beautifully arranged, sparse, and with some of the best sounding bass ever. And, like the entire album, loaded with melancholic truth with a pinch of his unique tongue-in-cheek misanthropy thrown in.’
‘I discovered Lee’s eviscerating break-up record through the inimitable Jeff Barrett at Heavenly Recordings. It’s so sad and cynical, yet gentle and idealistic too. This is such a perfect recording: just voices, guitars and bass. It really feels like a melancholy Monday morning.’
Vem Kan Segla (Cowboy In Sweden)
‘A Swedish folk song beautifully sung by Nina Lizell, translated and voiced along the way by Lee with his incredible deep baritone. The last song on his LP, It’s also one of the great Exit songs. I’m sure it’ll be played somewhere at the end of time.’
Lightning’s Girl, Nancy Sinatra
‘Nancy Sinatra was my way in to the world of Lee Hazlewood. I’d seen Nancy’s famous 1966 promo film of ‘These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ on TV at the time of its debut and was very excited, but had no idea of the man behind it – yet! Flash forward to 1979, and I’m covering ‘Lightning’s Girl’ in my band, Eight Eyed Spy. It was the first Lee Hazlewood composition I played live onstage.’
Like if “My Boyfriend’s Back” took 3 hits of acid and zero shit. Nancy’s delivery on Hazelwood songs is always as cool as it needs to be.
Houston, Dean Martin
‘I started collecting Nancy Sinatra records that I’d find in thrift stores, and of course I soon gleaned that Lee was all over them, and that led me to collecting Lee’s records – when I could find them! – for they were rare birds. ‘Houston’, one of my favourite recordings by Dean Martin, was relatively easy to find as it was a US Top 40 chart hit for Hazlewood and Martin – and it’s an excellent version.’
Some Velvet Morning, Lydia Lunch & Rowland S. Howard
‘Lee Hazlewood exerted an immeasurable influence upon a circle of musicians I became involved with in the late 70’s. Lydia Lunch – who sang on ‘Lightning’s Girl’, as covered by our band, Eight Eyed Spy – years later teamed up with Rowland S. Howard of The Birthday Party to duet on this playfully unsettling version of one of Lee Hazlewood’s most daring compositions.’
Trouble Is A Lonesome Town (Trouble Is A Lonesome Town)
‘Hazlewood’s first release is incredibly poignant to me. It feels like the planting of the seed for the rest of his later work . It is slow and sombre but has a kind of hazy, golden warmth to it, something I feel he so naturally gave away.’
Morning Dew (Love & Other Crimes)
‘The way he sings ‘my honey’ , enough said… Haha! It’s a simple and yet heart-wrenching love song. Even though this is the main topic he sings of, I feel like his message is a soothing one, and he doesn’t ever prod the listener, he lilts us to another place so cleverly. The upbeat section always comes as a surprise and makes me happy.’
Summer Wine, Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood (Nancy & Lee)
‘I love Nancy Sinatra and Lee’s voices together: they blend so perfectly, and this song is evocative, nostalgic and, to me, also feels quite innocent and naïve. They were the greatest pairing.’
Lady Bird, Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood (Nancy & Lee)
‘Another one with Nancy. It’s hard to imagine a lot of these songs being sung without the other. They balance everything out, and help us listeners feel part of a narration. It’s like a play: you feel like the songs could take you anywhere if you’re willing to come along on the ride.’
No Train to Stockholm (Cowboy In Sweden)
‘A beautifully simple, direct, but laid back protest song. The delivery is not intimidating in the least but the lyrics are wonderfully direct as is the form – verse/ chorus 3x, no bridge. The production is fabulous – simple and effective, very intimate with touches of large tympani. A really easy song to let pass you by.’
Matthew E White
Califia (Stone Rider) – Lee Hazlewood & Suzi Jane Hokum (The LHI Years: Singles, Nudes & Backsides (1968-71)
‘This is the first Lee song I really flipped for. Echoes a Fairport Convention/Mamas Papas vibe with Suzi’s vocal build. The sound is just contemporary enough for those times without overplaying the hippie thing. I also love songs about California in peril.’
‘Groovin’, cinematic country music. Absolutely love this. Lee doesn’t even sing in the second half of the song. Really clever on all fronts, a classic example of something that is so deft and nuanced that it can completely elude you as to how developed a piece of art it is.’
Matthew E White
You Turned My Head Around, Ann Margret
‘This is actually a song by Ann Margaret, written and produced by Lee. I think the production on this, particularly the guitar riff that comes out of nowhere, nowhere, is just fabulous.’
Matthew E White
(Let’s Take A Walk) Down Valhallavägen, Lee Hazlewood & The Hazlewood Kids (7” only)
‘When I lived in Stockholm in the early 90’s I actually lived on Valhallavägen! What I love most about Lee’s recordings (not least the songs themselves) are the spoken introductions, that deep, sonorous voice, like a gentle hammer ringing through your eardrum. This song is as charming as the very man himself.’
Some Velvet Morning, Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood (Nancy & Lee)
‘An obvious choice, but I’m sure, like many, it was my first mind-blowing foray into Hazlewoodland. My parents had the Nancy & Lee record on vinyl and used to play it when we lived in Holland in the mid- 80’s. Then I saw the music video and was even more intrigued; there’s something slightly menacing and foreboding about Lee’s voice here, at odds with Nancy’s dreamy naïve character…’
I Just Learned To Run, Lee Hazlewood (The LHI Years: Singles, Nudes & Backsides (1968-71)
‘Unreleased until 2012. Straight to the point on this one. The lyric is a swift jab with a sharp knife from a simple cowboy. Perfection.’
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.