Album art for Blaze Foley's 1999 live album, recorded just weeks before his death. Blaze Foley’s brown ponytail shimmered on top of a white scarf. A green and gold hair tie held it taut and “C” shaped. Sybil Rosen, who received the ponytail from Blaze in 1977, sat on her couch to my left. We were at “Waller,” a drafty, spacious home hidden by tall pines on the Chattahoochee River, just outside of Whitesburg, Georgia. During the ’70s and ’80s, long before it belonged to Rosen, Waller was a hot-spot for musicians, artists, and hippies. I set the scarf and ponytail on my lap. It felt fresh despite being cut off for 38 years. “I just didn’t get it,” Rosen said, describing when, in ’77, they had moved together from Austin to Chicago. “If you look at some of the pictures from that period, his hair went from being this long to this long.” She showed the distance between her two hands. “The reason he cut it was for me to find it. It really is a part of him. He came back in March and he had written ‘If I Could Only Fly.’ Then he came back in April and that’s when he gave me his ponytail.” In 1987, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard covered “If I Could Only Fly” on their sophomore duet record Seashores of Old Mexico, a swerving, Malibu Rum country album. Nelson received Foley’s demo tape from his daughter Lana. On the track, he jump-starts the song in smooth fashion and Haggard closes. This represented a major success for Foley. His nose had been to the pavement for so long; now, the man had... Sign In to Keep Reading
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