Friday, November 9, 2012

Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazelwood: Jackson

I was reminded by my brother this week about some of the duets that were recorded in the 1960s by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood. Hazelwood, who also served as Sinatra’s producer and sometime songwriter, was also responsible for her public makeover. At his suggestion, she dyed her hair platinum blond, began wearing false eyelashes and frosted lipstick, and began sporting mod clothing inspired by London stylists.

In 1967, Hazelwood went into the studio to rerecord “You Only Live Twice” with Nancy Sinatra recreating her vocal from the Bond soundtrack of the same name. While Hazelwood’s production was somewhat different from the motion picture version, it actually had some better characteristics. I remember seeing the movie in Atlantic City that summer and fell in love with the theme song. Being a sucker for Bond themes, I always regarded it as my favorite.

For the flipside, Reprise Records selected a duet by Sinatra and Hazelwood on the song “Jackson.” The song’s primary author was Billy Edd Wheeler who grew up about 40 miles from where I live. The songs coauthor and the person who was responsible for cleaning up the song was Brill Building icon Jerry Leiber. For this and several other compositions, Leiber used his wife’s name of Gaby Rodgers for crediting purposes. “Jackson” appeared on Nancy Sinatra's LP "Country My Way."

This single release was one of those rare occurrences where the “B” side outperformed the “A” side. This is highly unusual, as I don’t remember “Jackson” getting that much airplay, but I do remember hearing “You Only Live Twice.” The chart positions were surprising as “You Only Live Twice” made it to #44 while “Jackson” charted at #14.

Billboard’s unique algorithm not only charted sales and airplay, but also jukebox plays which may be the source of determining which side of the single charted higher. Typically, the “A” side is the hit. While “You Only Live Twice” failed to break into the Top 40, the record is still considered a double sided hit. A video, which is included below, also helped promote the song as well.

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