Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bohemian cowboy.

"Easy & me" -- Lee Hazlewood

I love this song/video.  I love Lee Hazlewood's voice here... He usually plays the gruff, jaded cowboy role with Nancy Sinatra (see here and here), but his voice sounds much younger and gentler on this song, Easy & Me.  

Although I'm sure he's mainly famous through his pairing with Nancy (which has been often duplicated--in its recent and most successful format by Isobel Campbell of Belle and Sebastian fame and her rugged crooning partner, former grunge rocker Mark Lanegan)-- he had hits in his own right.  He was quite a pioneer, like Gram Parsons, in the merging of traditional American country music with 60s psychedelic/bohemian culture.   
He also wrote unforgettable hits for Nancy's solo career like "These Boots were Made for Walking" and the amazingly syrupy yet covert, double entendre-laced, LSD tribute "Sugartown"-- which was recently reinvigorated by the Zoe Deschanel cover on the (500) days of Summer (2009) soundtrack.   
Born in Oklahoma, son of an oilman, he started his music career as a DJ while he was serving in Korea in the 50s.   He was one of the first DJs in the world to recognize the potential of a young singer named Elvis Presley.   When he started working with Nancy, he encouraged her to drop her saccharine virgin image and sing like a young woman sweet, but a bit jaded with a wink and a knowing look.  Part of the success of their act was that they had a sexual chemistry in their music and stage presence... Lee with a deep, rugged voice and she with a sweet, ethereal voice, they represented the extremes of traditional tough masculinity and sweet, soft femininity.   
While he had his brush with the spotlight, he mainly preferred to work off the center stage.  His off-beat quirkiness, and unexpected pairing of country music with leftist social circles and idealism, kept many in Hollywood from wanting to work with him.  Throughout the 60s and beyond he worked on films, music production, collaborated with various performers, and did a few touring stints.  In 2005, he was diagnosed with liver cancer and died in 2007.   
You can watch a Lee Hazlewood video playlist here.


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