Duct Tape Messiah

December 8, 2007

I never heard of Blaze Foley until Lucinda Williams‘ 1998 release, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. After strolling through the CD the first few times, I was drawn to the song Drunken Angel. It was a song of both admiration and disappointment, a mournful song about a losing a friend that seemed to have been lost long before his death.

Sun came up it was another day
And the sun went down you were blown away
Why’d you let go of your guitar
Why’d you ever let it go that far
Drunken Angel

Some kind of savior singing the blues
A derelict in your duct tape shoes
Your orphan clothes and your long dark hair
Looking like you didn’t care
Drunken Angel

It wasn’t until the 1999 release of Live At the Austin Outhouse that we actually got to hear his voice and music. This was 10 years after he was shot to death, at the age of 39, trying to protect a friend from his abusive son. The recording was completed only a month before. There was one vinyl release, self titled, during his life. It’s not available, and I’ve read that the master is lost.

blaze03l.jpg

His given name was Michael David Fuller, although he took Blaze Foley as a stage name. It was the name by which he was known. He grew up in West Texas where his music took root in a family gospel ensemble.

He made his way to Austin to hone his skills as a singer-songwriter, where some would have called him eccentric at best. He was a fighter for the people, although homeless himself. He is said to have moved in and out of the homes of friends, landing wherever he could find shelter including the Austin Outhouse where the cassette recording was made.

Originally, proceeds from its release were designated for the homeless, however they were used for his burial. Monies from the 1999 reissue are going to the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless. He was said to have very few belongings, and what he had was held together with duct tape, in particular, his attire. Blaze was well known at that time, only in the songwriter circles of Austin. Townes Van Zandt remembered his friend in the song Blaze’s Blues.

There are 15 cuts on Live At the Austin Outhouse including If I Could Only Fly, which was recorded by Merle Haggard, and Election Day by Lyle Lovett. My favorite is Clay Pigeons. Every time I heard this song, I thought of John Prine. I even trolled his CD’s looking for it, but it wasn’t there. I was thrilled when he included it on his most recent CD. And it is just like I imagined it.

Blaze Foley’s music is described as honest, irreverent and political, yet at times soft, gentle, and inspiring. I have found all of these things to be true.

A Walking Contradiction: The Legend of Blaze Foley
Blaze Foley’s Front Door
On the 2005 Release: Wanted More Dead than Alive

Recordings:
Live At the Austin Outhouse (Lost Art Records) 1999
Oval Room (Lost Art Records) 2004, (Munic/Indigo) 2005
Wanted More Dead Than Alive (Waddell Hollow Records) 2005
Blaze Foley and the Beaver Valley Boys (Lost Art Records) 2006

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: