Nancy Sinatra has collaborated on tracks with Morrissey, Jon Spencer, Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker and Richard Hawley for To Nancy, With Love. The album pairs the Sixties icon with a generation of artists raised on her stylish pop.
The Morrissey collaboration, “Let Me Kiss You,” is being tipped for early release as a U.K. single. Morrissey, an encyclopedic Sinatra enthusiast, recorded the music and his vocal and sent it to Sinatra, who then added her own vocal. “A few of my songs have made it through the years,” says Sinatra, whose hits include “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,” “Some Velvet Morning” (with Lee Hazlewood) and “Somethin’ Stupid” (with father, Frank), “and most of the rest bit the dust. Except with Morrissey. He seems to know and love them all. And this song is very much a Nancy/Morrissey song. It’s gorgeous and beautiful and romantic and lovely.”
According to Sinatra, the lyrics aren’t typical of a Morrissey original . . . until the kicker, when he responds to an earlier line of “Close your eyes and think of someone you physically admire” with “You open your eyes and find someone you physically despise.” “If it weren’t for him singing and playing, you wouldn’t know,” she says, “until that line. The last line gives it away.”
Cocker contributed two new songs to the project and also plays guitar in a backing ensemble that includes former Smithereen Dennis Diken on drums, Sonic Youth’s Jim O’Rourke on bass, and Richard Hawley and Matt Azzarto on guitars. “Both of Jarvis’ songs are very Nancy,” Sinatra says. “We just had a ball recording them.”
Blues demolitionist Jon Spencer added vocals and guitar to “Ain’t No Easy Way,” a song Sinatra recorded a few years ago. And another song, “Boss Man,” is a collaboration with U.K. production team Reno, whose previous sampling of Sinatra’s music helped provide some of the initial inspiration for the record. “Boss Man” is also the likely companion to the “Let Me Kiss You” single.
“We’ve been lucky to find some wonderful, hip musicians who say that my music has somehow influenced them,” Sinatra says. “And these artists also mean something to me; I wouldn’t be doing their songs if I didn’t appreciate their work. I can’t think of anything more flattering than to have a young person say, ‘Your music really influenced me and my life.'”
That thought inspired the album’s handle, with the guest artist on each track completing the album’s title thought: To Nancy With Love, Morrissey; To Nancy With Love, Jarvis; and so forth, also making room for To Nancy With Love, Bono. The U2 singer contributed “Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad,” a tribute he initially penned for Sinatra’s late legendary father.
“Though Bono’s song was written for my dad, he sent it to me to include in this collection,” she says, “so in a way it’s still a ‘To Nancy.’ I get a little emotional when I sing it, for obvious reasons. It’s hard for me to get through the lyrics sometimes.”