More than thirty years after their last collaboration, Nancy Sinatra and songwriter Lee Hazlewood have teamed up for an album of new material.
"I was teasing Lee," Sinatra says. "'The only chart hits you ever had were with me.' I was really driving him crazy."
Her playful goading worked. Recorded in Nashville this past winter with the help of arranger Billy Strange, the as-yet-untitled set reunites a team that produced a string of Top Forty hits in the mid- and late Sixties that made Sinatra an icon. "It is still definitely Nancy and Lee," she says. "We don't sound like anyone else."
Sinatra had success overseas with her early-Sixties records, but didn't score any hits at home until she joined with Hazlewood and Strange in 1966. Their first release, "These Boots Are Made for Walking," went to Number One that year and was followed by chartbusters including Sinatra's solo performances on "Lightning's Girl" and "Sugar Town," as well as her duets with Hazlewood on "Summer Wine" and "Some Velvet Morning."
The key to those records' success, Sinatra says, was the juxtaposition of her persona as a tough ingenue and Hazlewood's sexy, enigmatic lyrics. Though both are considerably older now -- Sinatra is sixty-two and Hazlewood is seventy-three -- they were still able to generate some of the original heat.
"In the old days people used to wonder, 'Are they doing it?'" Sinatra says. "Now I doubt that that would enter their minds, but on the other hand the material still lends itself to that kind of thinking. You can close your eyes and listen to a song and paint your own vivid picture of what's going on."
Since they parted ways, both Sinatra and Hazlewood have enjoyed enthusiastic cult followings. After a twenty-year layoff during which she was a full-time mom, Sinatra re-emerged in 1995 with the album One More Time and a controversial pictorial in Playboy. Since then, she has released a series of compilation albums featuring rare tracks and had her entire Sixties catalog reissued on Sundazed Records.
Hazlewood has also seen a renewed interest in his work. A few years back, Sonic Youth's Steve Shelley reissued a series of albums Hazlewood recorded in the Seventies while living in Sweden, as well as a new album, Farmisht, Flatulence, Origami, ARF!!! and Me on his Smells Like Records. Last year saw the three albums Hazlewood recorded for MGM in the Sixties re-released on a double CD.
Sinatra's reunion with Hazlewood isn't the only new work she's got in the can. She also lends her vocals to a track called "Boss Man" by the British electronic act Reno. "They're fans of mine and they sampled a couple of songs from the Woman album," she says. "Of anything I've been working on, that has the best chance of doing something, particularly because it's the U.K., and it's got a sound I've never done before."