The other day I was rummaging around in a dusty box buried in the back of a garage belonging to a record collector friend of mine. I stumbled across an old copy of the “Boots” album by Nancy Sinatra from 1966 that contains this worldwide monster hit famous for it’s sliding bass run that trademarks the song – “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’”.
That and several other “Boots” tracks were composed by the late Lee Hazelwood who came up with the suggestion for that bass line. A pop singer, song- writer and record producer, Hazelwood was best known for his work with guitarist Duane Eddy and making Nancy Sinatra into an instant star. He supposedly told the then 25 year old to sing “Boots” “like a 16 year old who’s been doing a 40 year old man, but it’s all over now” or words to that effect. But what about the rest of the album? I decided to reboot “Boots” and find out.
What “Boots” worth revisiting is not her voice, but the clever, almost over-the-top arrangements by guitarist Billy Strange of LA’s famous 60’s studio band, The Wrecking Crew. How could you not like the album’s hip bossa nova version of the Stone’s “As Tears Go By”???
Or the wonderful girl group-horn driven cover of the Knickerbocker’s hit “Lies” as knocked out by Sinatra
Hazelwood wrote several other songs on “Boots” including “So Long Babe” which became the second huge hit for Sinatra in 1967 and Billy Strange continued to arrange most of her albums from then on. Hazelwood continued his collaboration with Sinatra making several duet albums together, the last one in 2004. None of them came even close to the chart busting success of that first release. Perhaps it’s Nancy Sinatra’s hipster flat Sunset Strip drawl combined with Strange’s arrangements that makes 1966’s “Boots” more than just a curiosity from the past. The album has been remastered and is available on cd with extra tracks last issued on the Sundazed label.
Too bad John Lennon’s no longer in the house. I wonder what he’d say about this Sinatra cover of the Fab Four’s “Run For Your Life”? - Eric Berg
Learn more about The Wrecking Crew and read the book!