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Nancy and Lee Week No 3: Sand

Young people often ask me, "Who was Lee Hazlewood?' and I usually tell them he was this enigmatic dude with a black moustache who recorded a series of semi-mystical singles with Nancy Sinatra and wrote and produced her most famous song, the number one hit "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'". But that only tells the half of it.

Hazlewood, a deejay became the producer of the young late fifties guitar maestro Duane Eddy who had a string of big hit singles on both sides of the Atlantic. If you listen to his records now, it's hard to understand how the fairly turgid country-influenced twangy guitar style of Duane was ever cutting edge for white US and UK youth and its equally turgid orchestration is indicative of how white music, post early Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and Buddy Holly, was badly in need of the adrenalin injection applied by the arrival of the Beatles. Which did the trick. It effectively put Hazlewood out of work until a friend persuaded him to "audition" for the role of Nancy Sinatra's producer. This was a poisoned chalice, as just about everyone in LA had had a go at it with scant success, and her dad was getting impatient. Frank told him he was glad he was on board, so Lee felt he couldn't back down.

As recalled by Lee in his 2004 interview with the Daily Telegraph's Andrew Perry:

"...."She'd been singing up here like this," he says, approximating Nancy's erstwhile high-pitched, girly keening, "but I wanted her down here where I could hear her right. We lowered her singing about two keys. I made her sound like a tough little broad. I wanted her to sing like a 16-year-old girl who screwed truck drivers. "She said, 'I can do that.' " ...."

Only in America - but you get the point, and it is this combination of world weariness and fresh innocence (perhaps helped by being the daughter of the most famous singer in the US) which gives strength to her vocal duets with Lee.

"Sand" is an antidote to loneliness and a great Nancy and Lee track: typically mystical, with Nancy singing yearningly, so sexy you can almost taste her wet lips and you feel like reaching for the lip salve, and Lee playing the role of roaming drifter, the Man with No Name. Except he has a name, a name he's taken for the night, or even maybe the name she's given him: "Sand". In that it becomes the name to both of them for their memory of that one night.

Like the sand one a beach at night, next to a campfire, golden, tanned, redolent of one-off holiday teen romance, salt in hair.

"Sand" she whispers urgently in the heat of passion.

For most of the song she is the innocent, he the seducer, but this is neatly turned around in the last line as Lee, looking back, perhaps from old age, remembers wistfully:

"She called me Sand".

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