If you happen to pass trough Meridian, Mississippi and are interested in country music be sure to stop at the Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Museum. It’s not easy to find, so be sure to take your time. But when you get there you will be rewarded by a nice little museum with wonderful staff. Not too many people come by, it’s nothing fancy, very down to earth and the whole place breathes the spirit of a long forgotten past. They have many music sheets, lyrics and letters on display, some furniture and one of Jimmie Rodgers’ guitars. In front of the museum there’s a steam engine, because Jimmie Rodgers used to work as brakeman for the railroad. That’s why he got his moniker «The Singing Brakeman». Meridian is Jimmie Rodgers birthplace and also the place were he was laid to rest.
Jimmie Rodgers (1897-1933) had a short but huge career. His early death was caused by tuberculosis. His music unifies influences from folk, country and blues and he tells stories of sadness, loneliness and unfulfilled romance. Still today his songs sound fresh and timeless.
To most people Lee Hazlewood will always be the one who wrote and produced “These Boots Are Made For Walking” for Nancy Sinatra and sang timeless duets such as “Some Velvet Morning» and «Summer Wine” with her.
But Lee Hazlewood was not just Nancy Sinatra’s sidekick. He had a career before and after he worked with Nancy. Before Lee Hazlewood met Nancy Sinatra, he had made a lot of money as a producer and songwriter for Duane Eddy and others. From time to time he released his own records with mostly self-penned songs, but he wasn’t very successful. After his successful Sinatra stint that lasted from 1966 until 1968 he again started releasing his own records. But they mostly went unnoticed by the public. Lee Hazlewood’s last record was released in 2006.
On “Strung Out On Something New: The Reprise Recordings” Rhino-Handmade reissued a limited edition of hard to find material that has been out of print for a long time. The two disc set consists mainly of songs from the Reprise LPs “The N.S.V.I.P.s” (Not So Very Important People)» (1965), “Friday’s Child” (1965) and “Love And Other Crimes” (1968). The collection gives a good impression of Hazlewood’s songwriting craft. He definitively knew how to tell a story. His lyrics are full of wit and melancholy.
“The N.S.V.I.P.s (Not So Very Important People)” has a strong Country and Folk flavor. Lee introduces every song with a short story, and he’s accompanied by acoustic guitars and string bass. “Friday’s Child” (also released as “Houston”) and “Love And Other Crimes” blend Country with a little bit of Blues and Folk-Rock.
Included in the collection are also some weaker songs that he produced and wrote for the teenage-market.
See also: Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood: The Forgotten CD