Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Lee Hazlewood's Mustache Rides Are Not Free


Lee Hazlewood “Trouble Is A Lonesome Town”
Lee Hazlewood “Some Velvet Morning”
Lee Hazlewood “Pray Them Bars Away”

by Mark Cappelletty

Lee Hazlewood and his fantastic mustache have left the building as Lee passed on this weekend after a long battle with cancer. Lee may be gone, but his ‘60’s-era mustache lives on.

Lee Hazlewood’s mustache isn’t a walrus ‘stache of the Sam Elliott and Wilford Brimley school, nor is it a sleazy porn rectangle favored by the likes of Harry Reems. It’s droopy, but not ridiculously so, and gives him a hangdog look that, coupled with his gruff, world-weary voice, makes him the kind of guy you can imagine hanging out at any seedy Hollywood bar, circa 1966, ordering multiple Rob Roys or Rusty Nails (manly drinks, both). It’s a black caterpillar of manliness up there with Burt Reynolds in his Smokey And The Bandit/Hooper period worn by Lee with pride in the early-to-mid ‘60s, well before dirty hippies gave facial hair a bad name.


Best known for writing “These Boots Were Made For Walking,” Lee was a noted songwriter and producer — responsible for many of Duane Eddy’s hits and the Dean Martin single “Houston” — before he teamed up with Nancy Sinatra in 1966. Nancy And Lee, an entire record of duets including classics like “Summer Wine” and “Some Velvet Morning,” followed in 1968. After recording The Cowboy And The Lady with Ann-Margret, Lee moved to Sweden and made a number of idiosyncratic records such as Requiem For An Almost Lady and the aptly-named Cowboy In Sweden, both reissued by Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley’s Smells Like Records in 1999. Lee recorded another record with Nancy Sinatra in the early ‘70’s, but the mustache was long gone by this point. As were the hits.


Lee soon became a hipster icon— his songs have been covered by Nick Cave, Luna’s Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips, Einstürzende Neubauten and even Megadeth, whose modified cover of “These Boots Were Made For Walking” was roundly criticized by Hazlewood, who called the band’s changes to his song “vile and offensive.” Dude, you’re either on Lee Hazlewood’s side or against it. Dave Mustaine — with his Alberto VO5 hair — couldn’t grow a mustache if he tried. Lee put out a couple of records in the last few years; his latest, Cake Or Death (named after an Eddie Izzard comedy bit), is now his last.

Lee Hazlewood, you’ll be missed. As will your mustache.



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