"Some Velvet Morning"
Cover of the 1967 US single
Single by Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood
from the album Movin' With Nancy
B-side"Oh, Lonesome Me"
ReleasedDecember 1967 (1967-12)
Recorded1967
GenrePsychedelic pop
Length3:39
LabelReprise
Songwriter(s)Lee Hazlewood[1]
Producer(s)Lee Hazlewood
Nancy Sinatra singles chronology
"Tony Rome"
(1967)
"Some Velvet Morning"
(1967)
"Things"
(1968)
Audio sample
"Some Velvet Morning"

"Some Velvet Morning" is a song written by Lee Hazlewood and originally recorded by Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra in late 1967. It first appeared on Sinatra's album Movin' with Nancy, the soundtrack to her 1967 television special of the same name, which also featured a performance of the song. It was subsequently released as a single before appearing on the 1968 album Nancy & Lee.[2]

Construction

The male part of the song is in 4/4 time signature whereas the female part is in 3/4. Hazlewood's voice is recorded with more reverberation than is Sinatra's, making it sound bi-dimensional.

The recording session

Nancy Sinatra after the makeover recommended by Hazlewood
Nancy Sinatra after the makeover recommended by Hazlewood

Nancy Sinatra's singing career received a boost in 1967 with the help of songwriter/producer/arranger Lee Hazlewood, who had been making records for ten years, notably with Duane Eddy. Hazlewood's collaboration with Sinatra began when her father Frank Sinatra asked Lee to help boost his daughter's career.[3]

In the fall of 1967, Nancy Sinatra joined Hazlewood at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles for a three-hour session. The recording was produced by Hazlewood and arranged by Billy Strange. According to one review, overdubbing was not used. Instead, the duo "recorded the entire song live with the band, the full orchestra and Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra singing all at the same time."[4]

Interpretation of the lyrics

Reviewers have offered a variety of interpretations of the song's lyrics. A British journalist said that "the puzzle of its lyrics and otherworldly beauty of its sound offering seemingly endless interpretations."[5]

Hazlewood's explanation was less definitive than that of some others, saying: "It’s not meant to mean so much. I’m not a druggie, so it was never to do with that." He also confirmed that he was inspired by Greek mythology: "I thought they were a lot better than all those fairy tales that came from Germany that had killings and knifings. There was only about seven lines about Phaedra. She had a sad middle, a sad end, and by the time she was 17 she was gone. She was a sad-assed broad, the saddest of all Greek goddesses. So bless her heart, she deserves some notoriety, so I’ll put her in a song."[6]

In 2003, London's The Daily Telegraph called the song "[O]ne of the strangest, druggiest, most darkly sexual songs ever written - ambitious, beautiful and unforgettable."[7] As with many psychedelic songs, its overall meaning is somewhat obscure. The lyrics consist of the male part describing a mysterious, powerful woman named Phaedra, who "gave [him] life … and ... made it end." The male part alternates with the female part, who identifies herself as Phaedra and speaks over ethereal, twinkling music about beautiful nature imagery and about the secrets held by an unknown collective "us." The rhythm shifts from 4/4 for the male parts to 3/4 for the female parts.[citation needed]

Chart performance

Although "Some Velvet Morning" is among the more famous duets that Hazlewood and Sinatra recorded, it is considered a departure from their usual fare, as it is decidedly less influenced by country and western music. The single peaked at #26 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1968,[8] and #36 in Canada.[9]

Legacy

Selective list of cover versions

The song has been covered many times, usually as a duet. Among other recordings:

References

  1. ^ "Original versions of Some Velvet Morning written by Lee Hazlewood | SecondHandSongs".
  2. ^ Elemental and enigmatic — the mystery of Some Velvet Morning
  3. ^ Elemental and enigmatic — the mystery of Some Velvet Morning
  4. ^ Some Velvet Morning, by Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra
  5. ^ Elemental and enigmatic — the mystery of Some Velvet Morning
  6. ^ Some Velvet Morning, by Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra
  7. ^ "50 Best Duets Ever: Some Velvet Morning, 1968" The Telegraph, 8 November 2003
  8. ^ DeRogatis, Jim (2003-12-01). Turn on your mind: four decades of great psychedelic rock. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 385. ISBN 978-0-634-05548-5.
  9. ^ "RPM Top 100 Singles - February 24, 1968" (PDF).
  10. ^ " The Telegraph, 8 November 2003
  11. ^ "Week 22: Lee Hazlewood, space cowboy/peculiar guy".
  12. ^ "200 Greatest Songs of the 1960s". Pitchfork.
  13. ^ 20 Greatest Duos of All Time
  14. ^ Elemental and enigmatic — the mystery of Some Velvet Morning
  15. ^ "RPM Top 100 Singles - June 9, 1969" (PDF).
  16. ^ "Listen to Danzig and Cherie Curie's cover "Some Velvet Morning"". 13 August 2013.