17 Jan If I could only fly…
Have you ever seen a TV show called Tales From The Tour Bus? It’s a very odd sort of documentary series about country and western singers made by Mike Judge – the guy who did Beavis and Butthead way back when. We found it one winter’s night on HBO, thought it looked interesting enough to try out and ended up loving it – it’s utterly outrageous and bizarre, and many of the stories are completely over-the-top. They’re told ‘as remembered’ by roadies and fellow musicians, so they’re complete with all the extra embellishments and exaggerations you’d expect.
Mostly, the show tells tales of crazy, rock and roll misadventures, but the final episode was a little bit magic.
The final episode introduced me to Blaze Foley.
Blaze Foley (real name Michael Fuller), was an American country singer - although his music is more folky than country - who was deliciously, delightfully bonkers. A true misfit in every sense of the word. He never really ‘made it’ in the music biz (although a few of his songs were later covered by some big names), because his music just wouldn’t fit in any particular genre.
He would cover the tips of his cowboy boots and collars with duct tape, mocking the Urban Cowboy look, and even made an entire suit out of duct tape that he would wear around town. He became known as the Duct Tape Messiah! When he died, his love of the tape was so legendary that his friends covered his coffin with it.
He wrote some really sweet, unusual songs about his life – including this lovely one about the year he spent living in a treehouse with his girlfriend, this one about his distaste for the President (which could have been written about Trump), and this one about Girl Scout Cookies, which my cynical mind assumed was a euphemism, but on further listenings seems to be genuinely about how much he likes cookies.
This song, though, is probably his most famous, and it makes me cry almost every time I hear it. It’s full of so much emotion. It’s been covered by several people and they make it sound ordinary, which is odd, but I think some songs are inextricably linked with the person who made them. It’s the combination of the person and the song that makes the magic – I can’t imagine Case of You by Joni Mitchell done by anyone else, for example. It would just sound wrong.
Foley also made amazing, quirky, colourful art with marker pens on old bits of cardboard, which unfortunately, is really hard to find online! I’m hoping someone will discover it and make it into a book eventually. I did find this YouTube video which gives you a vague idea – but do check out the film below - the animations over the credits at the beginning are all made from Foley’s artwork.
It’s hard to convey why Foley touched my heart so deeply, but I suppose I know a kindred spirit when I see one! I urge you to watch the film below and see for yourself. He was so kind, and lovely, and odd, and unapologetically himself. He had a sort of charming innocence about him as well.
He said once, "I don’t wanna be no star. I wanna be a legend. Stars burn out. Legends last for ever." He was never really a star, certainly not in his lifetime, but he is most definitely a legend.
Lars and I both fell in love with him instantly, and as soon as the Tour Bus episode was over, we searched to see if we could find out more about this wonderful man. Lo and behold, someone made a little film about him, which you can see below. Do watch it, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
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