BLAZE FOLEY: THE MUSIC YOU MIGHTA MADE

“There’s kind of two Blazes. A lot of people saw one or the other. There was the wild one. . . . And then there was the gentle, loving, caring one. I got to know both.” ~ Townes Van Zandt

Over the years of doing ninebullets, I’ve had the occasional emailer ask me if I’d ever heard of Blaze Foley. One was even so kind as to email me a collection of Blaze’s songs. These emails were the first I’d ever heard of the man, but it’s been in the back of my mind to write about him ever since I got those songs.

Blaze Foley was born in Arkansas but grew up in Texas settling on Austin as his home in his adult life. Even for a city known for it’s characters, Blaze seems to have been in a class all his own. Once, in an effort to mock the “Urban Cowboy” fad and their silver-tipped cowboy boots, he started putting duct tape on the tips of his boots. This obsession kept growing until he’d made a complete suit from duct tape that he would wear around. When they buried him, his friends even covered his entire casket with duct tape.

At the age of 39, Foley was murdered while attempting to help his friend Concho January defend himself from his violent son, Carey. Despite having written hundreds of songs and recorded numerous albums at the time of his death, none of Blaze’s music had ever been released. One album’s masters were seized by the DEA when the executive producer was caught in a drug bust. Another album’s masters were stolen when the station wagon Blaze was living in was broken into, and another album, “Wanted More Dead Than Alive”, was believed lost until an old friend found some master tapes while cleaning out his car some years after Blaze’s death.  Despite having a small but rabid fanbase that included such luminaries as Gurf Morlix and Townes Van Zandt, it would take some 10 years after his death before a Blaze album would see the light of day. The late nineties/naughts have given us a small Blaze Foley revival of sorts, with 4 albums being released (with a fifth on the way), an equal amount of tribute albums, and two documentaries about the man who never saw his music leave the bars he played in. A number of his songs have become hits for other artists, including Merle Haggard’s cover of “If I Could Fly”, Lyle Lovette’s cover of “Election Day”, and John Prine’s cover of “Clay Pigeons” off his 2005 Grammy Award winning album, Fair and Square.

There are plenty of other sites out there that can offer you a much more complete and better written account of Blaze’s life. I was only hoping to introduce you to / raise some interest in this lost gem. When I listen to his music, I can’t help but to think how appropriately titled Gurf Morlix’s tribute to Blaze from his 2009 album Last Exit To Happyland was with “Music You Mighta Made.”

Blaze Foley – Cold, Cold World
Blaze Foley – Big Cheeseburgers & Good French Fries
Blaze Foley – Darlin’
Blaze Foley – Officer Norris
Blaze Foley – Gettin’ Over You

Gurf Morlix – Music You Might Have Made

Lyle Lovette – Election Day
Merle Haggard – If I Could Fly
John Prine – Clay Pigeons

11 thoughts on “BLAZE FOLEY: THE MUSIC YOU MIGHTA MADE”

  1. thx for introducing me to this great music! I love it and I think I have to buy those albums real soon 🙂 thx

  2. The greatest of all Lucinda Williams songs – “Drunken Angel” (my fave, at least) is about Foley’s life and, specifically, his death…beautiful song.

  3. Great stuff. You always come up with the goods. I think there’s a video of Blaze and Townes together on youtube…

  4. Thx for a great post. I read a bit about Blaze a while back, and was fascinated. Great to listen to the songs you have posted. Keep up the good work.

  5. Blaze’s music has started to catch on, and rightfully so. He was such a soulful, in-tune writer…the real deal.

  6. After finishing a mural of Austin locals Rusty Wier and Mickey Basinger on the wall there, I spent an evening with Blaze at T’s Tin Shed outside of Austin the day that Elizabeth Cotten died. After eulogizing her eloquently, he sang Freight Train, picked like she did it, and made us all cry. He and Mickey had several tunes worked out and i got to sit in. A riveting high point. It was irrefutable, even clad as he was in taped and stapled together clothing, that a monumental musical soul was blessing us. “If I Could Only Fly”, “Deep In The West”, “Oval Room”, “Sin City”, “Loretta”, “If I Needed You”and, hauntingly, “Farther Along” were among the songs loosed to the ethers that night. I still have the duct tape rose that he made for me. I kept it in the case of my 65 Guild until I realized that it was precious. It’s hidden. I take it out sometimes. Lucinda Williams’ “Drunken Angel” makes me cry, but it doesn’t paint the articulate, laser-sharp mind Blaze lived in or the innate refinement he had. He was a born gentleman. What a loss. To Blaze.

Comments are closed.