Before he was getting excellent reviews for his starring role in Blaze, Ben Dickey was really nervous. His indie music career had hit a wall, and he was working as a chef in Philadelphia when his friend Ethan Hawke suggested he star in a film about Blaze Foley, the outlaw singer who wrote classics like “If I Could Only Fly” before he was shot dead at age 39 in 1989. Hawke and Dickey had hatched the plan for during a drunken New Years Eve party. ” “I said, ‘It’d be a lot of work. . . . Would you do it?’ ” Hawke says. “He replied, ‘Fuck, yeah.’ The electricity went through my back — I’m really supposed to do this.’ ”
But after agreeing, Dickey had a lot of work to do. He confided in his co-star Alia Shawkat, best known for her roles on Arrested Development and Search Party, who would play Foley’s wife Sybil Rosen.”She said I had to use [the nerves],” Dickey says. He wrote an original song: “Sybil’s Lullaby,” in just 20 minutes at Hawke’s house on an old Martin guitar. “I [wrote it] for our Sybil & Blaze. To surround us like a halo. So we could sing it, share it. It means a lot to me.” The song appears on the film’s soundtrack.
The duo performed the song at the film’s premiere at Sundance in January, where the cast including Hawke, Charlie Sexton and Hurray For the Riff Raff’s Alynda Segarra all performed. “It was wonderful & joyful,” Dickey says. “I love Alia and I love her voice … singing at Sundance with her was being back in that warmth, that lovely energy. It was magical.”