Blaze Foley lived his life like the country songs he penned – boldly, too often questionably, and in the end, tragically.
From 1975 until his untimely death in 1989, the Duct Tape Messiah proselytized a last chance gospel of hopeless love and loveless hope.
Get to know Blaze Foley with these 15 Holler-picked essentials.
"He's got his head full of dreams / And a pocket full of sand / Brother that's the life of the Texas man"
The honky tonk-textured ‘Life of a Texas Man’ is a galloping cautionary tale. Seemingly semi-autobiographical, Blaze sings of a down-and-out dreamer, crafty by nature, but careless, as well.
"Been gettin' my supper in a bottle / Get my breakfast in a can / I think it's time that / I was getting over you"
From his posthumous album of lost Muscle Shoals recordings – which, naturally, in the epic of Blaze Foley were unearthed during a drug bust – ‘Getting Over You’ is a liquored-up break-up ballad in the Foley fashion, making a good timin’ tune out of agony.
"Win or draw no chance to lose / Picture cards can't picture you / But I can see you like you are / When I just close my eyes"
Lonesome strings and a distant voice flutter through ‘Picture Cards (Can’t Picture You)’, a tune you don’t know whether to cry or simply sway to. Both are acceptable.
"Today, I'm feeling bad and I know why / It's just you, it's just you / And I may not stay sober but I'll try / What can I do / What can I do?"
‘It’s Just You’ is a doozy. The ghostly cry of lap steel paired with Blaze’s despondent words echo in the chambers of the heart and vibrate the hollow spaces there.
"The miles don’t seem so many / Thinkin’ of your charms / And pleasures unlike any / Wrapped up in your arms"
Dark strums, wailing steel and stamping drums slowly scorch ‘Down Here Where I Am’, a lullaby that swirls with smoke and neon.
"Oh darlin', oh darlin' / Way over yonder I'm alone / And I need you, oh I need you / To come on home, come on home"
‘Oh Darlin’’ waltzes upon plucky strings and Blaze’s buff but buoyant baritone. His tone gives nothing away – defiant against the desperate words he sings – but his lyrics tell all.
"Cosmic doo doo, Cosmic giggle / Cosmic cuties sure can wiggle / Sit they asses on your face / Listen to the tubes"
What exactly is cosmic doo doo? Well, it’s nothing and it’s everything – a celestial slop of hot sex, good drugs and the same old songs. The sashaying tune two-steps past the bullshit in favor of the cosmic doo doo instead.
"Most folks think we're a little deranged / That's the way it is, probably never will change / We don't care 'cause you gotta be strange / When you're living in the words in the trees"
The punchy ‘Livin’ in the Woods in a Tree’ plays like a drunkard’s fairytale about a “kinky little woman with crazy hair” and the good life far away from the things that don’t matter.
"Moonlight bathes the woods around / Paradise that we have found / Here among the trees and things we love"
Almost like a continuation of ‘Livin’ in the Woods in a Tree’, ‘The Moonlight Song’ contently lopes along as Blaze lilts about his own little slice of Eden.
"They live their lives like others past / The winos drink, the pimps sell ass / Little girls 10 years ago / Are older now by 20"
The ominous ‘You’ll Get Yours Aplenty’ preaches of the dark realities of urban life, calling for social change, a cry that still echoes today. Like a poor man’s prophecy, Blaze’s tune predicts the fate of those who turn a blind eye.
"My luck's been bad, the telephone just kept my only dime"
In the out-of-luck song ‘Election Day’, Blaze’s distant baritone sounds caught in the rain. His persistent pleas become muddied bargains against a pattering of strings.
"Got home ‘bout daylight I think I been gone too long / Woke up at 11 and I saw you were gone / So I drank lots of coffee and wrote you this song / I wish I’d have been home with you"
Like a death march to the doghouse, ‘I Should Have Been Home (With You)’ is a regretful ballad about late nights and loved ones left waiting.
"I like to drink beer, hang out in bars / Don't like busses, and I don't like cars / Don't like president, don't like stars / Never had stitches, but I do got scars"
The shuffling ‘Big Cheeseburgers & Good French Fries’ is a bittersweet ode to the simple things. It could be because of his cavernous baritone, but even his good timin’ tunes are washed in an unplaceable sadness.
"If I could only fly, if I could only fly / I'd bid this place goodbye to come and be with you / But I can hardly stand, I got nowhere to run / Another sinking sun, another lonely night"
‘If I Could Only Fly’ tugs hard at the heart, its lyrics tear-staining the delicate melody, bleeding into Blaze’s faraway voice.
"I'm tired of running round / Looking for answers to questions that I already know / I could build me a castle of memories / Just to have somewhere to go"
There are very few ways to aptly describe ‘Clay Pigeons’ – how the song feels, how it wounds, but how it also wipes away the tears. The song is a hand slicing the rushing highway air. It’s the setting sun playing peek-a-boo through the trees. It’s tired eyes and a stranger’s knowing smile. It’s a hand to hold when the route is unfamiliar and home seems so far away.
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