Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Interest lies perhaps not in this dark song but what is written in ballpoint on the cover of the album I have. A thick line is drawn through the title on the back cover and in block capitals beside it is written "DON'T PLAY".
There is even a scratchy ballpoint scribble through the title on the record itself.
The other telling inscription on the cover is "4ZB" and an official sticker of "NZBC". Clearly the station manager at 4ZB radio -- one of the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation stations -- thought a song about a baby dying wasn't fit for public consumption back in the early Seventies.
On the other hand the jaunty and innocuous Back on the Road has the word "Good" and a little arrow pointing to it.
This long out of print album is an odd one, but most Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood albums were: they would veer between dark and mysterious (Some Velvet Morning) and the chipper (Jackson, and on this album Did You Ever in which the subject was never quite stated).
This album opens with a five minute "suite" Arkansas Coal (about a father/husband trapped in a mine), moves through the lightly-delic pop of Big Red Balloon (Nancy singing "you're nothing but an old fool" about the Lee character being a dreamer), the evocative Paris Summer, Down from Dover which opens side two, and it ends with a studio vamp and song conversation in which they promise to get things right next time.
That might have come as comfort to the programmer at 4ZB.
For more one-offs, oddities or songs with an interesting back-story see From the Vaults.