Gurf Morlix – Blaze Foley’s 113th Wet Dream [Rootball Records]

“He’s only gone crazy once. Decided to stay.” – Townes Van Zandt about Blaze Foley

For Gurf Morlix to create a tribute album for his Austin running buddy and fellow singer-songwriter, the late, great Blaze Foley, was a tricky endevour. Foley wrote songs with such singular originality edging toward cloying sentimentality and corny humor and instead delivering songs of heart-wrenching honesty and dry wit. Once hear Foley do a Foley song you can’t really imagine anyone else doing it.

Not that it hasn’t been tried before. Foley’s songs have been covered by John Prine (Clay Pigeons) and Merle Haggard (If I Could Only Fly.) And Foley has inspired others as as the subject of Austin contemporaries Townes Van Zandt’s “Blaze’s Blues” and Lucinda Williams’ “Drunken Angel.”

Foley’s legacy is ready-made for mythology. He used to jokingly claim to be the illegitimate son of Red Foley and Blaze Starr, to be a news broadcaster from Cincinnati and to have once tried to break into Caspar Weinberger’s house to “see what was on his VCR.” These whoppers are like a seeping breach between a rich source of song-craft inspiration and a need to recreate himself.

In truth Blaze Foley. Born in Marfa Texas (setting for the films Giant and There Will Be Blood and currently a thriving creative community) in l949. He performed in a family gospel act called the Fuller Family with his mother and sisters. He eventually landed in Austin, a city that prides itself on non-conformity, and with his duct-taped boots and clothing, sense of humor and stark, brutally honest songs, stood out.

Gurf Morlix is an Americana music pioneer. A New york native in1981 he moved to Los Angeles where he met a kindred spirit Lucinda Williams. He went on to lead her band for 11 years (1985 to 1996) singing, and playing guitar, and eventually producing her albums. His latter role as producer of Williams’ pinnacle Car Wheels On A Gravel Road led to their acrimonious split. Morlix then went on to play either guitar, bass, mandolin, dobro, pedal steel guitar, lap steel, banjo, piano, harmonica, and a variety of other instruments for and/or produce a literal who’s-who in the the Americana/rock field – Warren Zevon, Mary Gauthier, Robert Earl Keen, Slaid Cleaves, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Buddy and Julie Miller, Tom Russell, Guy Clark, Emmylou Harris, Michelle Shocked, Jimmy LaFave, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock, Mojo Nixon, Jim Lauderdale, Jerry Lee Lewis, Peter Case, Bob Neuwirth, Don Walser, Jon Langford, Steve Earle, Harry Dean Stanton, Charlie Sexton, The Plimsouls, Victoria Williams, James McMurtry, Flaco Jimenez, Rosanne Cash, David Byrne, Kevin Welch, John Prine, Dave Alvin and many more. Impressed yet?

Blaze Foley’s 113th Wet Dream is 15 Foley originals that display the dark-to-light shadings of the man’s talent. Displaying a sense of humor and song-craft Roger Miller would envy on the cuts Baby Can I Crawl Back To You, Big Cheeseburgers and Good French Fries and No Goodwill Stores in Waikiki and the unvarnished melancholy and longing of If I Could Only Fly (featuring renowned Texas singer/songwriter Kimmie Rhodes on backing vocals) and Cold, Cold World that would make his buddy Townes Van Zandt weep. Some of the songs – Oh Darlin’ and Rainbows and Ridges combine elements of both.

Morlix ‘s arrangements and delivery are straightforward and top notch playing adds just the right amount of adornment. Aside from the excellent musicianship Morlix, unlike Steve Earle’s 2009 tribute to his mentor Townes Van Zandt, appears to have no urge to put his personal stamp on the songs.

Morlix was there on that cold February day in Austin when they put Blaze Foley in the ground as a result of being on the business end of a 22-caliber rifle. He was not content to let his songs be buried with him.

This CD is released in conjunction with the documentary film, Blaze Foley: Duct Tape Messiah, which has been 12 years in the making.

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