LEFTY FRIZZELL An Article From Ulm The Complete Recordings Bear Family
Lefty Frail was one of the early popularizers of what we now know as the redneck end &country music and as important to the foundations of the genre as lames Brown was to soul. He wrote mg Performed songs that seemed to come from some some cheerful Internal unNerse where acceptance canceled out pain and remorse. Personally as eloquent and exuberant as some redneck Gully lImson, he exhewed poet, lyrics and saved the expressionism for his voice. As a sirger he had a certain way of phrasing and elongating syllablesthatwas pure H.S. hillbilly butfullyernbraced the nearoniversal basics of what it is to be life, as Johnny Cash would much later. His life, as recounted by brother David Fritteell—himsell a Top Ten helhauser with "You're the Reason God Ma. 010ahoma" and Gonna Hire a Wino to Decorate • Home"—wa a sharnbling ac.oc affair driven by twin desires to make music next money to efther buy his way into the next good time or out of the nett selkmgineered catastrophe. There was a bog string of massive htts like "If You've Got the Money, I've Got the Tirne," "I Love You a Thousand Ways" and "Agays Late with Your 100es," all of .1. topped Cou.ry Music charts. Like oftny born into hard times, Lefty neveI shook the habit hem. Forgose of you who don'tGo Dee This Bern Family Records product: heavy.p,
This bugged German cornpany neiger mucks nor pisses about. When the compilation end of the business reissues an art., they relentlessly shove in everything. in this glorious case, that means all sittgles A & B5 a. every track on every LP, EP, and 78. The liner notes ana comme.ary are typically ...Y. buggrY a. comprehensive. The sheer bulk of this set is imposing, con... as it does of hire. CDs and a 264-page hardbound book, Mother Davi• biography Love You a Thousand Ways: The WO Fd.MR story. The first nine discs reca lefty's quarter... recording car. the next three three consist of demos and the remaInder the ...oh mad by David. Plunging in, If.. 1, aboutRObotthe music already, either as originals or thong)) covers too many. count, 811of thorn br rne evocative of the Blue Ridge hills where I.e. much al my boyhood. Forget Number One hits—Joints like ne, Shave, Shower Ors SatuMatt," "Cigarettes 00 Coffee Blues," Im An Old, OM Man (Tryin' to Live While ea)" and "Loe Looks Good On ',Sou" are part of Southern folklore, with lyrics Me heard Quoted land mangled) in conversation III dozens of co.. He also covered oger of son., with his version (wig Johnny Bona) of "Sick. Sober and ,Qtly" standing as definitive rata long time and putting another wages. phrase into Southern English. L0ser brown tracks shine as well--"Then I'll Come Back to You" is deliberately oldtirney and as funny as one of Dan Hicks' parodies. "Marne is a brilliant hangover song, a redneck version of "One Bourbon, One cotch, One Beer complete with the flOOIllying..1. Lefty In the face. "Nobody Knows ut Me" b another cic song aboutklling onttheBgt.us path, his tme all the way to Hell. By Om late 50s, the influence of Etts Presley becarne apparent and continued to develop. "You're Hurnbuggin' Me" and "So What! Let It Rain" and "What You Gonna Do Leroyr are just the sort of oldtirne hankttonk smasher. Nick Tosches celebrated in Unsung Memos of Rook 'a' Polt while "That's Ail I Can Remember" 68 bonttchilling murder
ballad bleb Cave wisely 0oldati covering. "Heave. Plan" sounds suspiciously like something a rock 'IV rail TV wonderboy like Ricky Nelson mitgrve done. "lames River" is one of several cool passes at a Johnny Horton style ballad. "There's No Food in the House" is as bleak as it sour and refers to conditions namy today think gone from Ainerica bY the "New Frontier" of the 60s. On top of all mat'at subj. matter, Lefty explores what seems like every last variety .1 new, fresh, tumescent, contented, troubled, dying, dead, rotten, and forgotten bve that 11VOIVO notes and redneck E.. can encompass. Titles "Don't Stay Awair 1T111 Love Grows Cold)," "Pow Tomorrow's Will Never Cme," and The Marriage Bit" run a brutal emotional gamut. By the mid-60s, his music was becoming smoother and product. more elaborate. Listen to "The Old Gar., Gone for a worgy pass at sentimental Jim Reeves balladr or Habo's Pride" for Byrd.tyle co., comforty' When the Rooster Leaves ge Yard" includes Pet Sounds of the kind Brian Wilson wouldn't have resisted either. "Blind greet Singer" is beauty of 8 character sk.ch. Sensige and chewy and mournful all at once, it's his "Eleanor Rigby." "Three Cheers for the Good Guys" is a working class anthem gat Pointedly reaches across race and relittous IMes. the long rearview mirror of History, Lefty deserves serious props br never having recorded the kind of right-bent as.. pottical ballad as Msfigured the discographies of Merle Haggard and Charlie Daniels. He never got a straw full of ego wedged up his nose in the manner of ay. Jennings, or ever strayed horn his ...be origins. Fels. never lectured on am need for somebody else to die in Vietnam, or staged some bogus career second act reinventing himself as "outlaw comtry" or banded any movement, so he never dated himself or ware out welcome with ge notarlausly fickle country musb audience. Indeed, Lefty's response to the Sexual Revd.. was to record more cheating songs. Smart man. This is not to say gis gigantic set do0n1 reveal an arc—it's a graceful one you can hear narrated by brother Da. on Dixs 1320. For sheer novelty, I decided to listen to Me audio instead of read. and I'm glad I did, 0 ge narragn lends aremarkable rTe'llaCocMtetxotu'Of :11=1707nogldWen'eZnetic
ale hardbanded, harttdrinking worker and a funny and doting mom. David spins yams in the Southern manne, bringing in family anecdotes, family curses, feats of lawbreaking valor, stillborn siblings, and nasty story of Daddy being tortured in /ail and escaping'''. a chain garg Like my own lam dorm outh, the Frizzells sold the occasional jug of moonshine liquor during the Gr. Depression. You. "Sonny" co.] yodel like gm. Rodgers and was.. to sticking hls head in the family Victrola. Daddy turned into a bad-tempered souse and the obvious source of a lot of the fervor in be. In my tiny southwest Virginia town at get!a all that honkytank music Om boys made. The family and Me flash of sorrow from the adults was almost as was large and ciosettnit by adversity and youngSonny great as the one Elvis Presley would leave a couple inherited a propensity for brawling which was where of years later. Here he is back again, welcoming us "Lefty" came Mm. He was soon... with Mama to more hard firms.
Passing ge hat and her bubbly personality and total commitment to her sons were large family ass.. These were the World War II years, Hollywood was ▪ its peak ard Lefty loved the movie cowboy wok PopulaMed by Gene Alztry and Roy Rogers. That stuck, MA the desire... Roy Acuff songs braver didn't, so be started vaiting Ms own. Jilted romance rnade him want to get famos—to be someone. Lefty was soon touring and had his own.. radio MN, He also pleaded guilly in 1947 to stet., rape of an underage fan and got AK rnonths. He wrote Alice love son. and despairing letters from inside the walls. One was • Love You a Thousand Ways." Once out, he soon had to knock Daddy flat on his ass and somehow get out of the cycle of deadund lobs. bel.'rrer"bS'onan7 aorsZrahetrotreclad:°77H7 music was praised by Hank Williams and Lefty wound up playing his own so.. a producer. "If Youve Gage Money" was improvised from half an existing idea when Om Mg boys wanted an•uptempo number. Music Row was all over him in no time and a crooked Partner wound up with half his publishing rights and a huge cut of his booking Lefty had, as David keeps repeating no business sense at all. Someone else wound up record!. "You've Got the Mon.' and Lefty got nothing but starvation and discovering what were then being called "race records" while waiting br his own record to come out. Then came a fast rise to the top, with son. In Jukeboxes all over America and Ott menet. his last name coastg-coast. Colurnbla made bank bank on him and summers took rnost of hls earni., but he wound up on the Grand Ole Opry In late 1950 and endured every other travail people who only wan. to write and sing tier s. do. Womanizing and whIskydrinkIng became moaned shtick and he drank onstage. He forever bemoaned hls lack of education. He had to fight the usual music Industry re.ure use up artists and growthem away. He and Alice also had the kind of erg... over trivia that escalated into pulling guns. By Om midals, Lefty was on the Walk of Fame, rigd next to the spot now occupied by Michael Jackson. As pressure to get hM moulted, Lefty tumed to other writers, resulting in the eerie "Long Black Veil" he made immortal with distInctive phrasing and 1.81ernotIonal commitrne.. 001. words and memarles reveal a man learning somewhat dazedly about gttn eMleisso uolf alese rnumberswahnIdle b otaltiin.g .Into Me Moving back to peto Nmauschhv islea rn oere he s6gp en wdte hgel nhw Michigan" revived Ills career but by the late 605, he was still having to beat money out of guys. Alice turned to religion, but he remained a sinner. He new evil shit while touring Vietnam that haunted him roe Years and briefly came under Me, comparing Om experience to touring.. Hank Williams. Lefty broke with Columba and signed wnM1 ABC in the early 1970s, bathe label wanted albums and not singles. Despite sbwly drinking himself. death, he was haltingly making his way toward a recording comeback at about the same time as Me "outlaw country" moverne. he founded by example. As far as he was concerned, one Lefty bitten per Planet Earth was gulte enough. When he died 1,1975, not rnany were surprised but a lot of people grieved. At 47, he could have Med much iorger and would've Produced marvelous music up to wh.ever ierg deferred end he should have reached. I remember