We’ve lost one of the legends. At the age of 67, Ronnie James Dio passed away after a 6-month battle with stomach cancer. Though he wrote some evil and dark lyrics throughout his career, he was always known for being a truly caring and nice human being.
Throw some devil’s horns in the air tonight in honor of Dio.
David A. Cobb has been running Houston Calling on donewaiting.com since March 2003, almost as long as the site has been up. Since starting his column of the Houston music scene, David has become a man about town, truly knowing what’s up in his city.
I’ve always felt that we weren’t doing David justice having him be another blog on the bloated and confusing donewaiting.com site… so after some talking and domain buying, David has set up shop on his own site… Please point your bookmarks to houstoncalling.net.
Good luck, David. You’ll always be in our hearts…. At this rate you’ll be the mayor of Houston in about 8 months.
Lee Hazlewood was the ultimate dude’s dude. Uncompromising, stylish, a ladies-man and a loner, he was one of the last cowboys and one of the first beatniks. Poised with a nasally baritone full of wit and darkness but firstly an ingenious songwriter, Hazlewood was the man behind not only some of the greatest American pop hits of the last fifty years, but also some of its strangest and unlikely concept albums. When I learned of his passing this past weekend after a long bout with cancer I became deeply saddened and was instantly taken back to the memories I’ve had with Lee’s songs as the soundtrack.
If I were to create my own personal list of the greatest songs ever, Lee Hazlewood would make it twice in the top ten. “These Boots are Made For Walking” has been a favorite since childhood and has only gotten better with a proper understanding of Hazlewood’s life. The fact that he, a thick-mustached, reefer-smoking loner wrote the song with Frank Sinatra’s daughter in mind (not to mention that he infamously asked that she sing it “like a 16-year old girl who fucks truck drivers”) made it just perfect. It was his only #1 hit. “Some Velvet Morning”, though, is Hazlewood’s true masterpiece and probably my favorite song in the history of pop music, a psychedelic anti-pop duet (again with Sinatra), drenched in his trademark echo and woozy from the Man vs. Phaedra dialogue, that somehow managed to reach #26 in the Hot 100 back in early ’68.
Despite these brief moments of success and a slew of other minor hits, Hazlewood managed to stay well below the radar throughout his career.
By the 90’s Hazlewood had gained a whole new cult following thanks in part to Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley, who began reissuing Lee’s records on his Smells Like imprint. At least that’s when my friends and I (and surely countless others) really began digging into the mysterious world of records like Cowboy In Sweden, an album recorded while he left the U.S. for Europe so that his son could avoid the draft, and Requiem for an Almost Lady, where Hazlewood introduces each song with a brief glimpse of its theme. Each and every record he did had its own unique charm and no-bullshit attitude. Not bad for an Oklahoman boy (b. 1929) who considered retiring from music in 1964.
Hazlewood was the original psychedelic cowboy. His music and spirit will undoubtedly continue to affect those who look a little left-of-center for inspiration. R.I.P. Lee.
A spin-off of Miami Ink starring Kat Von D, LA Ink is set to premiere this Tuesday night on TLC. If you miss the 10pm showing, the premiere will be rebroadcast at 11pm.
Here’s a sneak preview …
My interest in the show lies solely in the fact that one of the artists that makes up the cast – Kim Saigh – used to be a very good friend of mine. Many stories could be told about hanging out together at the Akron Agora, Flash Gordon’s, Peabody’s, etc., etc., in Cleveland watching the up-and-coming hair metal bands of the time (and all the local bands hoping to make it big … The Fashion Police, Outta the Blue, Fatal Charm) but I’ll save those stories for another day. Continue reading →
Finally, a way for me to legitimately write about Comic Con….
Neil Young’s concept album, “Greendale”, is going to be published as a graphic novel by my favorite comic company, DC Vertigo. Newsarama interviews “Greendale” comic writer Josh Dysart about the project. A highlight:
NRAMA: Is Neil Young directly or indirectly involved with this project? Do you have his endorsement?
JD: Absolutely. He is directly involved. I pitched him my take. We got notes back from him. I even met his whole family-his son and daughter, his wife, and of course, the man himself. (Crosby, Stills and Nash were also there, but now I’m just namedropping… heh). He’s a wonderful, wonderful person-when I met him it felt like he’d been in my life forever; which, through his music, I guess he has.
NRAMA: Will there be characters from Young’s album/ film involved in your project?
JD: Yup, characters and situations but there’s a story-telling element in the Greendale art book that didn’t really make it into the film or the album. So, that’s what I’ve focused on for the graphic novel. We’re not just stringing the stories from the album together. It will be very different from the previous incarnations of the material. A little bit traditional Vertigo, a little bit Dysart, a whole lot Greendale.