blaze foley: clay pigeons (secret seven)

in terms of song as summation, of man / myth, lucinda williams’ drunken angel nails it. buncha verses that get to the core of blaze foley and his fucked cosmology (but hell could have been written about van zandt or hank williams, steve earle or johnny cash in the depths of their respective artistic highs/personal voids). some kind of saviour singing the blues / a derelict in your duct tape shoes / your orphan clothes and long dark hair / looking like you didn’t care / drunken angel

it’s too easy to get bogged down in the quicksand of legend. too easy to get lazy with the whisky-sodden troubadour clichés. when you talk of the clown or the drinker or the fighter or the fucker, you ignore a) the man (it is a particularly masculine affect) and b) the music.

the psychic connections linking iconoclast and audience: how much of the image/person is created for them? how much is encouraged? that romantic / destructive lifestyle williams sings of: some threw roses at your feet / and watch you pass out on the street.

there’s complicity there.

it’s something america excels at, that no other western music / art form does quite as well. a particularly texas / tennessee praxis. the outlaw songwriter: part jesse james, part brendan behan, part salvador dali. draw the line from waylon jennings to kris kristofferson to gram parsons to james jackson toth.

van zandt describes him: one of the most spiritual cats i’ve ever met; an ace finger picker; a writer who never shirks the truth; never fails to rhyme; and one of the flashiest wits i’ve ever had to put up with.

he says: he’s only gone crazy once. decided to stay.

in a way blaze is like one of these 20’s blues singers. a fella that exists in a single washed-out photograph, in rumour and memory. through chance and misfortune only a fistful of songs recorded survive. someone who’s now, and seemingly always was, more story than flesh. someone who lived in a treehouse, counted newt gingrich among his fans, had master tapes confiscated by the fbi, died in a bar fight, whose grave was dug up by townes to retrieve a pawn shop ticket.

all of it’s true. none of it’s true.

the duct tape he was so obsessed by, a symbol, not just of clothes falling apart / held together but the man himself. an existence of bits, glued together.

he lived his life as a performance. no day job. no compromise. just music. and what music it was. clay pigeons collects a lifespans worth of studio, home and live cuts. stripped down. stripped bare. a voice that’s warm with age and ache. life, love, death, heartbreak, politics – lyrically the usual nashville affairs. listening to this record, there’s a cruelty, not in the songs themselves but in the fact they’re unheard, unloved, unwritten. when you hear the bar-room chatter, the barely listening conversation over his strum and words, it fucking kills me. alone. ignored. that moment on stage reflecting his life at large. more famous dead than he ever was alive. yeah, the story, the song, the singer, the writer, the life, the dude himself, inseparable.

secret seven

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