Blaze Foley

The first few years that I attended SXSW in Austin, my friends and I always made a point to make a day trip to Waterloo Records. Whenever we'd depart, we'd all hop into our rental car and furiously dive into our overflowing bags. I can clearly remember one person saying, "Good god, I just spent $350". Another classic memory was San Francisco's own Jason Smoliak quickly unwrapping Richmond Fontaine's "Lost Son" and sliding it into the CD player as we headed for Club de Ville. About two songs in there was a chorus of "this is terrible". I still laugh every time I pass that clunker on my CD shelf. I bet Smoliak does as well.

The year 2000 was the one year that I went all-out at Waterloo. I recall first picking up The Magnetic Fields' "69 Love Songs" and then running around the store looking for anything that caught my eye. As I scoured the racks, I was caught by the music playing over the speakers. About three steps from the register, the cashier belted out, "Blaze Foley's 'Live at the Austin Outhouse'". A few minutes later the CD was part of my massive bag of CDs.

Now eight-plus years later, I've still only listened to this record two or three times. I recall enjoying it, but it ultimately began collecting dust amongst the other F's on my rack. Until about two weeks ago. I was riding on the bus and the song "Clay Pigeons" came on the iPod. Not knowing the artist, I ripped my iPod out of my bag to check the artist. Since that weekday morning, I've listened to "Live at the Austin Outhouse" five or six times. Tonight I listened to the entire record front-to-back. Blaze Foley's a mix of Merle Haggard, Townes Van Zandt and well, Townes Van Zandt.

As I sat listening to the music and storytelling, I began to wonder about this Blaze Foley guy. Outside of that March day in Austin, I have never once heard anyone mention his name. A little research revealed that Foley was born in 1949 and died at the age of 40 in 1989. His first record, the one that's playing right now, wasn't released until 1999. As I make it through my second listen, I'm incredibly interested in finding out more about this guy. Why did it take ten years after his death for this beautiful music to finally see the light of day? Was music simply a hobby for Foley? How long did it take him to grow that mountain beard?

I found a website that alludes to a documentary; however, I can't seem to find anything about its existence. This is going to be an interesting journey. Hopefully I'll find out more about this man. And hopefully it won't take me another eight years.


TXMuse said...

Used to go hear him in the Montrose section of Houston. I have a live recording of him from the 70's.