There’s not much in motion this morning per se. It’s stupid-o’clock in the morning and I’m nursing a stale airport lobby coffee and roaming the empty airport corridors just to keep awake. The current album I happen to also be listening to is the ‘That’s the Way Love Goes (the Final Recordings of Lefty Frizzell)’ album by country legend Lefty Frizzell. If things get any better I’m going to stab myself in the face with a plastic fork.
On the upside, William Orville “Lefty” Frizzell is an icon of the 1950’s era country music scene. His relaxed style of singing was an influence on later stars like Merl Haggard (who used Frizzell’s singing as the template for his own style), Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison and George Jones. He is now a member of the Country Hall of Fame. A prolific songwriter, Frizzell had four songs in the country Top 10 at the same time in 1951 – a feat that would not be repeated on any chart until the Beatles had 5 songs in the pop chart in 1964.
After two decades, Columbia Records dropped Lefty in 1972, a move that, according to all reports, hit the singer very hard. He signed with ABC by the end of the year, and, over the next two years cut 23 songs with producer Don Gant, enough material for two albums. This 1996 compilation offers a 16-track overview of those ABC recordings, including the six minor hits he had for the label. At the time, Frizzell had fallen on hard times; in addition to being dropped from his longtime home, he had descended into alcoholism and was divorcing his wife. As it turns out, such sorrow makes for great country music and the music he made for these ABC recordings was indeed great. What makes this music especially compelling is that it is indeed the work of an older Frizzell and all of the sorrow and loss is etched on his voice, giving this music depth even on numbers that don’t necessarily have it on their own.
In my opinion, there’s just something longing about Frizzell’s music. Songs like ‘I Love You a Thousand Ways‘ and ‘I Never Go Near Mirrors‘ simply make one long for home as I do this morning, making this the perfect way to start my long journey home this morning.
Now, if I could only some decent coffee…