One of Austin's most fabled lost souls, songwriter Blaze Foley (1949-1989) is best known for composing "If I Could Only Fly," which has been recorded all the way from the indiest of the indie, all the way up into the Top 40, covered by artists such as Merle Haggard and Joe Nichols. By all accounts, Foley was a singular, eccentric presence on the Austin scene -- a fast friend of Townes Van Zandt and many others, he refused to work a day job and had no fixed address. Foley was a constant presence in Austin's music community until his untimely death in 1989, when he was shot and killed by the son of a friend, in the middle of a domestic dispute. A sad story, but he left behind some great and often challenging music. Here's a quick look at his work...
Blaze Foley/Various Artists "If I Could Only Fly: A Tribute To Blaze Foley" (Bongo Beat, 2006)
Merle Haggard, Gurf Morlix, Kimmie Rhodes, Willie Nelson, Calvin Russell and Texana Dames and numerous others join in this tribute to Texas songwriter Blaze Foley. This 4-disc set also includes a bunch of performances by Foley, often along with various pals and cohorts... The fourth disc is a concert DVD, including several duets with Townes Van Zandt.
Blaze Foley "Live At The Austin Outhouse" (Lost Art, 1999)
Nice stuff. This album is drawn from a live show recorded weeks before his death, in one of his favorite haunts, the Austin Outhouse. It's a striking performance, ranging widely in emotional tone and musical strength. Foley opens the show with "Oh Darlin'," a windswept acoustic tune with gorgeous guitar work. It's followed by "Clay Pigeons," a jovial but penetrating ode to the beauty of unglamorous people -- the song is nakedly imitative of John Prine's plainspoken style, and it is only fitting that Prine himself recorded the song in '05... These two tunes are the height of professionalism on this album, and the set gets choppier and folkier as it goes along, less concise, yet also more personal and immediate. This unevenness, the creative tradeoff between songcraft and emotional directness, may have been emblematic of Foley's career: he dropped out in order to be a full-time musician, but he excelled and his personality shone through when he was at his most ragged. All in all, this is a wonderful introduction to his work, giving a strong sense of his various strengths. Recommended!
Blaze Foley "Oval Room" (Lost Art, 2004)
Blaze Foley "Inside" (Deep South, 2005)
Blaze Foley "Cold, Cold World" (Lost Art, 2006)
Blaze Foley "Wanted More Dead Than Alive" (Lost Art, 2006)
Hick Music Index