Hotter Than a Pepper Sprout!

It´s all a bit "Scooby Do", isn´t it?

I was listening to "Sundown" on my way back from work, which is one of my favourite songs ever. I was stuck in a bit of traffic with a bright, low sun blinding me and I cranked up the volume to windshield-cracking dimensions. The light and the sound bathed Hamburg´s notorious "sinful mile", the Reeperbahn, in a soothing, yet overexposed light. All traffic jams should be like this.

"Sundown" is just sonic perfection. Yes, Lee´s voice is crooning along, ridiculously low , almost laughable. When those strings, the Flügelhorn and the backing singers come in, its goosebump-city. But then Nancy takes this mental, slightly ascending orchestral break over the top with her effortless, nearly detached delivery of "Come on, come on, come on back to me". It MELTS me!

Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra: Sundown

I heard cover versions with great musicians and singers, but no-one could hold a spark to the way Nancy Sinatra delivers her part. By not doing anything in particular she owns those 2:40 minutes of pop-bliss for ever.

Lee wrote better, more accomplished and deeper songs, and "Sundown" feels more like a sketch, a basic rudiment of a song that was fleshed out in the studio. You can almost sense that they didn´t know what to do with it, so they coated it in a criminal overload of orchestral sugar.

Maybe that´s part of its magic! It´s just there. Like a sonic reflection of the sun in an oddly angled window adjacent to yours. You can only hear/see it, when everything falls into place for a few fleeting moments.

It seems that "Sundown" is not regarded as the masterpiece that I see in it. It rarely appears on the countless Nancy Sinatra compilations. As proof, there is only a very, very low-quality version on Youtube with a still of the "Jackson" Video. To be honest: I am actually glad about this. "Sundown" needs no visualisation. It´s my vision of the ultimate pop nirvana.


A.J. (hangten) said...

indeed a masterpiece, as is Velvet Morning.
tho i remain taken with Lee's "Trouble Is A Lonesome Town" ...can't resist that tumbleweed sound.

StellaVista said...

I can´t wait to listen to Lee (and Nancy) while driving through the Rocky Mountains in a few weeks time.

"Some Velvet Morning" is in a way a prototype mythical pop-song with a full Douglas Sierk-Drama at it´s core. Isn´t it?!
It hardly gets better than this and "Sand", although I tend to find the forced sexual innuendo in some lyrics to be a bit too easy. It was probably seen different back then.
I mean, "lightning flashed across the sky, the night he tought me how to fly"...can it get any more obvious?

Lee is one of the few that can get away with things like "The Nights" and "Jose" without making it corny.