Lucinda Williams, “Drunken Angel”

Written by November 8th, 2010 at 7:00 am

“Drunken Angel,” which appears on the album Car Wheels On A Gravel Road, recounts the story of Blaze Foley, an Austin songwriter and general roustabout who was shot to death in 1989 while allegedly trying to defend a friend from said friend’s violent son. A songwriter whose work often dealt with the bleak side of life, Foley has become something of a cult figure since his death. He was also buddies with Townes Van Zandt, who wrote a song about him called “Blaze’s Blues.” Merle Haggard recorded the Foley song “If I Could Only Fly” on his 2000 album of the same name.

Williams, a former Austin resident, was an acquaintance of Foley’s and also a champion of his music. “A derelict with duct-taped shoes” Foley was indeed. He enjoyed a long love affair with the silver tape, even going so far as to fashion an entire suit out of the substance. He was once dubbed the Duct-Tape Messiah, and his friends wrapped his coffin in it prior to his burial.

As is often the case, Williams pulls no punches with her lyrics, taking Foley to task for letting his demons overtake his art. Blaze claimed he never had a real job, and was known to sleep on pool tables and friend’s couches. Though the lyrics are at times biting, there are constant references to Foley’s messianic status among his fans. “Drunken Angel” is a vivid portrait of a “beautiful loser.”

“Drunken Angel”

Sun came up it was another day
And the sun went down you were blown away
Why’d you let go of your guitar
Why’d you ever let it go that far
Drunken Angel

Could’ve held on to that long smooth neck
Let your hand remember every fret
Fingers touching each shiny string
But you let go of everything
Drunken Angel
Drunken Angel
You’re on the other side
Drunken Angel
You’re on the other side

Followers would cling to you
Hang around just to meet you
Some threw roses at your feet
And watch you pass out on the street
Drunken Angel

Feed you and pay off all your debts
Kiss your brow taste your sweat
Write about your soul your guts
Criticize you and wish you luck
Drunken Angel
Drunken Angel
You’re on the other side
Drunken Angel
You’re on the other side

Some kind of savior singing the blues
A derelict in your duct tape shoes
Your orphan clothes and your long dark hair
Looking like you didn’t care
Drunken Angel

Blood spilled out from the hole in your heart
Over the strings of your guitar
The worn down places in the wood
That once made you feel so good
Drunken Angel
Drunken Angel
You’re on the other side
Drunken Angel
You’re on the other side

  • Christine Flores-Cozza

    I was expecting disappointment in the reading of this but you nailed it. The only thing you missed was that Blaze also liked to sleep in BFI brand dumpsters … BFI Blaze Foley Inside! hahahaha…

  • http://www.blazefoleymovie.com Kevin Triplett

    I enjoyed this posting as well. Blaze slept on (and under) pool tables, in friends cars and on friends couches but personally I think the BFI joke was just a joke. Great joke, though. He also told at least one person that BFI stood for Blaze Foley Institute, with a branch behind every 7-11. Thanks for sharing, Caine!

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