Nancy Sinatra is once again spending her summer givin’ the people what they want! A new CD “California Girl”. It’s a great new album with a California theme full of unreleased tracks from Nancy’s archives of the 60’s and 70’s, and also a handful of fresh newly recorded personal favorites of Nancy’s! I once again had a great time talking music and stuff with Nancy.
SE-Hey Nancy …
NS- That’s a me!
SE- I’ve been spinnin’ your new “California Girl” CD, I dig it!
NS- I’m glad!
SE- Great opening track, great ending track, and everything in the middle is nice too! It’s a nice little package.
NS- I’m glad you like it, I think it’s good too. It’s one of the few things that I can say that about, that I’m really proud of.
SE- Just the whole groove of the first track makes you wanna hear all the rest! And maybe it’s because I have a good ear for it, but I can kind of tell which are the newer recorded tracks and which are from the past that I have never heard before. Have they never been released?
NS- Well, the first track was part of a single that nobody ever heard in the very late 60’s or maybe even 1970, I don’t know.
SE- It does have that groovy kind of 1970-71 feel to it. Who produced that one?
NS- That was Billy Strange. I’m trying to think of the tracks next in line …is “San Fernando Valley” that was never released, it was done early on. “California Girls” was never released, and then we put Brian Wilson on .. so it’s like a new record. “99 miles From L.A.” is brand new, and I think it’s one of the best things on the album, I’m real happy with that one.
SE- Why is it that the never released stuff on the album was never released before?
NS- Well, that’s a good question. It’s probably because I was in transit between Reprise and RCA… the stuff just got shelved, and all the masters did revert to me after a time and … when we revisited everything I have my sound guy … Keith Barrows and, we bought a pro tools setup and we went to the studio to listen to everything and check out all the unreleased material … all the tapes that were stagnating and disintegrating. And over the past year we have managed to put all of my recorded stuff on CD. And there are twelve more CD’s that could come out with stuff that people haven’t heard. So there’s a lot of stuff there. And … not that anybody’s interested in it, and I certainly don’t have a label but …at least I have I have preserved it all now and I’m not worried about it dying. And if nobody else but my children ever hears it … then that’ll be okay too because… it makes me feel good because it’s a bigger body of work than most people know. And…
SE- It’s time for the Nancy box set, hmm?
NS- Well, Bear Family is doing a box set of mine but probably only the 60’s stuff. Although, they were talking about doing a second one that would include the other things. I’m putting together a package to send to them … I’m afraid to send these anywhere because they might turn up … you know… I just found out that I’ve got a new bootleg out in Germany of my Greatest Hits, and there’s one on the charts in Norway that is a bootleg! So, it’s very depressing.
SE- Thanks to home CD burners… you can put out anything you want now.
SE- By anyone you want.
NS- Yeah. And it’s really very depressing because your work goes out and you’re not getting paid, and it’s not fair.
SE- I recently found on the internet this Nancy Sinatra 1973 Vegas concert on video.
NS- Oh really?
SE- Yeah, it only said that it was a tape of a documentary…
NS- Oh, that’s the Lee Hazelwood show that he put together I think.
SE- I see.
NS- “Nancy And Lee In Las Vegas” yeah.
SE- You never know what you’ll find on Ebay, I’ll tell ya.
NS- Yeah, I know.
SE- Before we go on, how’s your mom doing?
NS- She’s doing okay, thank you.
SE- That’s good to hear. I was thinking the other day… that lady should get the lifetime achievement award for raising you three …
SE- To be on the straight and narrow and not just think of yourselves as the children of a superstar, you know what I mean? Because none of you ever came off like you thought that way.
NS- Well, the world thinks that way for us.
SE- Well, let em’ think what they want!
SE- (Laughing) But as far as how I’ve seen you guy’s… Tina, Frank jr. and yourself… you never come off performing or during an interview like “I’m Frank’s child!”
NS- No, that’s because we were lucky enough to be born into the family, you know, that doesn’t mean we have anything to brag about.
SE- Right. But as you know a lot of celebrities kids have used that, and you guy’s didn’t. Each one of you have your own individual personalities and no matter what the public expects … it’s always different.
NS- Thank you.
SE- I still need to read your sister’s book, everyone tells me what a great book it is.
NS- It’ll make you cry, it’s very sad at the end.
I’ve been told that it’s a little somewhat disturbing but it’s good to hear the truth first hand and not from someone who wasn’t there.
NS- Yes, it’s absolutely true, every bit of it. And there’s stuff that isn’t in there because the publisher was worried about lawsuits, about doctors being irresponsible and all of that … so, it’s very sad.
SE- There’s so many things I’d like to talk with you about…
NS- Go ahead, fire away.
SE- Speaking of “fire away“… During the war that’s going on now they have U.S.O. shows going on for the military, and during the Vietnam war you went over there to entertain the troops.
SE- What was your experience like … I’m talking about the things you witnessed, etc. People seem to think that today’s entertainers are just doing shows mainly for the publicity, but in the 60’s when you did shows in Vietnam the publicity wasn’t even a thought.
NS- You’re talking about the U.S.O. people?
NS- Oh, I don’t think that anybody goes into a war zone just to get their name in the newspaper. I mean that’s a very difficult thing to do.
SE- What would you think the troops are feeling today going by what you found them feeling in Vietnam?
NS- I don’t know,… in Vietnam it was completely different, the guys were there for at least a year… their tours lasted a year. I don’t know what goes on with this group now that’s fighting, I guess some of them in what we might call in country now are going through the same things, I don’t know. It was scary, and there was no front line in Vietnam at all. So there was no real safety in terms of where to go to get behind the lines. I was with a small group of people… there were only seven of us, and it made it easy for us to get around to smaller areas, and to get to the guys that really didn’t have any of the big shows.
SE- When the U.S.O. started putting shows together a few months ago, CNN, and AMC were showing film clips of the entertainers getting ready to do shows during the Vietnam war and you were shown being interviewed about the U.S.O. in 1967-68….
NS- I was?
SE- Yes, you were talking to the press alongside Johnny Rivers, and a few others.
NS- I’ve never seen anything of me in connection with Vietnam. We didn’t do publicity…. actually, we didn’t do any. I think they interviewed me once or twice in L.A. before I left out of I guess sheer interest in things like , what I was going to carry with me because it was a hard…. hard trip. The military said “pack what you can carry” so they were interested in stuff like that but I didn’t do a lot of press about it. And after I got home I couldn’t do any press because I couldn’t even talk about it for a long, long time… for years afterwards.
SE- For you to go over there… it’s not like you were plugging anything, or promoting a new record or anything…
NS- Oh no, God no. No I just felt that my whole generation was involved one way or the another… I mean they were either for it or against it, they were either there or they had gone to Canada, or getting married and having kids really fast. Everybody was committed one way or the other. People were hawks, and people were doves and people changed from being hawks to being doves, it was a very confusing time. I just knew that it was important to make them know… these poor people that were over there struggling with this horrible thing that they weren’t forgotten back home. So I went just because I wanted to go. And that’s not necessarily true either because I didn’t really want to go, but I thought it was necessary to go so I went. The people who put the Bob Hope Shows together then asked me to go with them and I asked the U.S.O. purposefully… I said “do you need me in a separate situation, or do you need me to go with Bob Hope?” because I knew that the Bob Hope show was already set, they didn’t necessarily need me but, when the U.S.O. guys told me that they need small groups of people because the Bob Hope show was like fifty or sixty people traveling and we ended up as seven. I mean it’s obvious that we didn’t need the big aircraft, we flew by helicopter and whatever we could get on, and a lot of the people that were scheduled to fly in a particular chopper or airplane made room for us so that we could move on to the next spot and do another show. It was teamwork, they knew how important it was to get part of home to as many people as possible. We lost count but I think we must have performed for like 250,000.00 people. I would have to check with my escort officer because we did have sort of a headcount here and there but … there were so many people.
SE- When you perform those songs you did for them, does your mind ever go back to that time, that trip, those people?
NS- Oh yes, I do the song “Home” in my show occasionally if there’s a spot that has video equipment, and “Home” is about that particular war.
SE- I’ve noticed that many performers are singing songs from that time, especially at the 9/11 tribute show. It’s like… nobody can really write a song today with the feeling that those songs from the late 60’s, early 70’s. Much like the songs on your new CD that were able to keep our minds off of the tragedy then, and are doing it today..
NS- The day after September 11, on the 12th I called the U.S.O. in Washington, I said “if you’re starting up anything please let me know, I want to be there!” And the guy said… I’ve since found out that he’s no longer there, but the guy said “we are not prepared to do anything yet but we’ll let you know as soon as we are!” I have a good band and I know that some of them would certainly volunteer to go. But I never heard back from him so I figured that they just wanted young people and not middle age or senior women, that the guy’s would probably more appreciate the young women. So, I just assumed that was the reason but I still don’t know why they didn’t call me back to ne honest. But I was still certainly ready to go. But anyway, yeah, the songs were certainly a part of that whole era, no doubt about it. And a lot of the music really took over from the stuff I was doing… a lot of the protest songs really took over.
SE- Well, back to the new album!
NS-(Laughs) It’s a fun little package, the bootleg that is out in Norway has … it’s actually a Swedish label… has a picture from the shoot that we did for the California album years and years ago which is now on (Laughs) the California album finally. But, I mean it just gets my goat because how did they get that picture? I know how they got it, I mean people sell things all the time.
SE- Oh yeah.
NS- But it bothers me because I had saved … it’s all orange and orange boots, and orange everything, and I had saved it for this collection and the fact that it’s out there (laughing) really bugs me!
SE- It’s like when The Beatles “Anthology” volumes came out?
SE- I was disappointed because I’d had all that stuff for years prior to it’s release! (Laughs) Everything is so accessible out there today.
NS- I was just arguing on our family site today … not really arguing, but I keep trying to explain the situation to these people who want these concerts and stuff … they want all the bootlegs and they want them all authorized, they want them all digitally restored and sounding like a million bucks, and they don’t understand (Laughing) what it involves and the expenses and all of that, they just think you wave a wand and it gets done!
SE- I think Frank Zappa was the only one who got sick of seeing hundreds of bootlegs out there so he cleaned up the tapes a little and released them all using the bootleggers cover art (Laughs) I mean what are the bootleggers gonna do, sue him?
NS- He probably owned all of the songs, in our position … mine and my brothers, and my dads,… we have to pay licensing fees, and musicians unions, and there’s a lot of expense involved. Bootleggers get away with murder! They don’t have to do any of that, or so they think. We did manage to bust the one guy and he copped a plea the other day, he pleaded guilty to one count of piracy. He’ll probably get probation but at least it’s a start. And the RIAA did it.
SE- You don’t hear too much about that happening.
NS- Because nobody’s as tenacious about it the way we are. We track the stuff, and the RIAA and the state of New Jersey went to this place in Atlantic City where the stuff was for sale. And they had a list of products that were illegal and they busted the guy. So, you know you have to really stay on it if you want to get anything done.
SE- Getting back to the stuff I asked you as to why some of the tracks were not released. Nowadays, I notice that during this new generation that most of the material that was never released by just about any artist from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, whatever… is really sought after by their fans now. It’s like they are not as much interested in the rehashing of the hits, they want all of the unreleased stuff thanks to today’s technology no matter what material it is, you know what I mean?
SE- Whatever an artist has that they haven’t put out, people will buy it!
NS- Well, maybe in the case of the big, big stars. In my case I have a handful of fans who will buy anything. But I can’t just make the products for a few people, it’s too expensive.
SE- I don’t think that you just have a handful, you’ve got a huge handful, and a good portion of them are mighty young!
NS- Yeah, isn’t that funny.
SE I’ve seen a lot of 17-21 year olds looking to buy whatever they can find of yours.
NS- Well, there’s a lot of stuff, and I’ve got all the stuff now, we even have color Xerox little pretend covers on them, they look very pretty, and they’re nice packaging, but I need a label. Hopefully this thing with Disney will work out and maybe Buena Vista will want to do other work, that would be great because they’re a fabulous company.
SE- Have you ever thought about doing basically the same thing that your father did which is start your own label?
NS- Many times, yes I have. There’s a Nancy label in Germany… I think the company there is called Hammer Music, there is that.
SE- But I don’t mean just to put out your own stuff, because it would be nice to have somebody with talent knowledge to also sign good acts too.
NS- Absolutely, There are good performers like The Wonderments, and Eric Burdon’s live portion of our show at the Whisky last year was outstanding! And should be out on record, I mean, his original albums should be out there and their not. It’s just very sad.
SE- It’s almost like what you described to me once before about how your dad started Reprise to basically protect his friends and all of the great talent that he saw that wasn’t getting a chance because rock and roll was taking over. Right now, do you think that we’re in that same area where we’re kind of back to that same music business that we had when everything was “Teen Idols” and everything is formula, and you have to be 16 to be given a chance and show your stomach or forget it! It’s like, if you can’t see a picture of who’s singing… you can’t tell one from the other, it’s almost as though they have the same backing tracks and they just throw a different girl on it or something like that.
NS- Yeah, exactly. And who remembers the songs?
SE- Right. And they’re lucky if they’re given a follow up chance for a second record if the first album doesn’t match the sales of the other big seller. I thought it was pretty sad the way that Mariah Carey was treated, the way Mick Jagger’s been treated, David Bowie was dropped from his label. It’s getting kind of nuts!
NS- It is very sad, I don’t know what is to become of all of us, I really don’t. It’s also radios fault.
SE- I can’t figure what’s behind it. Except for the fact that we now have the formula puppets with the Britney’s, and the Christina’s, just like 1962 when we had the Bobby’s and the Frankie’s. No Chuck Berry, no Little Richard, no Elvis, and so on.
NS- What is that company called that cranks out these kids like little robots?
SE- Uh… isn’t it just one guy that’s doing it?
NS- Yes, it’s a guy, but there’s a name for the company… anyway, it’s like the old studio system, except that in this case … it seems as though they don’t try to nurture the individual talent as much as just to make them fit a cookie cutter.
SE- Yeah, if they fit the suit, they’re in!
NS- Yeah, But that’s okay, I mean they’re smart, they’re making money, they’re save at marketing and… what the heck! I wish I’d had somebody like that in my life in those days cause I would’ve done a lot more stuff and maybe had some money in the bank. It’s just different now. Madonna is really great at it, she did it right. And she had the talent to back it up, the brains and the talent going together was a winning combination. You can see something behind her eyes… when I look at some of these youngsters I don’t see anything behind the eyes, it’s like they’re wind up toys. And it worries me because I wonder what it’s like for them when they’re not that person on stage.
SE- And are we going to have what we had in the late 60’s and early 70’s, a lot of drug addicts and alcoholics that are so depressed that they don’t have a career anymore.
NS- I hope not.
SE- What would you say that comes to peoples minds when they hear the name Nancy Sinatra?
NS- They think of two things right off the bat, and most people think the two things … one is “Boots” and the other is Frank’s daughter
SE- I’ll have to chime in my own opinion and say that you didn’t get to “Boots” by just being Frank’s daughter.
NS- Thank you, a lot of people forget that.
SE- You were working hard before “Boots” in 1962-63?
NS- Yeah, 62 or 63, I don’t remember exactly, it was right after Reprise was started.
SE- You didn’t get a free ticket to ride though.
NS- No, but I fought awfully hard to even just get the respect of my peers which is really difficult, I can’t get their attention. They never took me seriously and they still don’t. They take Lee Hazelwood seriously, but not me. Because they don’t know that Lee did all of those songs with other people before we did them, they don’t take that into consideration. They don’t realize that there was a chemistry between the two of us that made it work, not just Lee. Because he didn’t make it work with Suzie , or Ann Margaret, he didn’t. Whereas with me we made it work. So, you know… I had to contribute something somewhere along the way.
SE- Now on the new album, one track that stood out for me was “California Man” You don’t see many people covering a Cheap Trick tune these days.
NS- That was Gilby Clarks idea. We were sitting around the studio in between takes of something or other, I don’t remember which one… maybe Hotel California, and he said, “you know that Roy Wood song that Cheap Trick did…” And I said “what is it? what is it? play it because I love the title” California Man, I said “you mean it’s a guy song?” Yeah, I’m a California Man. So I said, “well wait a minute, let’s turn it into a girls song.” So we did, and I flipped out over that thing! We did it in a couple of takes, and we did the vocal live. I was standing in the booth with the two engineers, and I mean… (Laughs) I never got into a vocal booth or anything, we did it right there with the sound of the booth and everything going into my mic. But it turned out (Laughs) so well, we said, “okay, so what.” it didn’t matter, it just came out really well! I’ve covered guy songs a lot in the past like “Run For Your Life” and stuff like that. It’s always fun I think for a girl to do a guy’s lyric.
SE- Yeah, it sounds good!
NS- It’s an old fashioned rocker, what the heck!
SE- It’s interesting to hear a guy sing “Boots”.
NS- You have to remember that Lee was performing it live when I got it.
SE- I’ve never heard a version of Lee doing it.
NS- I don’t think it was ever recorded. I have a tape that someone made for me of about fifteen or twenty different people covering “Boots” it’s really fun!
SE- I must tell you that “Boots” wasn’t the first record of yours that I heard when I was a kid, it was the great Dixieland songs on the “Sugar” album. That album had a great room sound to it also. That sound just cannot be duplicated anymore!
NS- No, it was the air. The air in the room, the ambiance… it’s very important and I miss it. But I think that’s part of why the California album works because we record it really the same way.
SE- Everyone tries to get that sound, they spend tons of money just trying to get that sound electronically and they can’t do it. Whenever I’ve put the phones on and listened to “Sugar” it’s like you’re there in the studio, it sounds so live!
NS- Yeah, part of it is that there’s a different spirit when everyone is working together, and also… you have to hear through your nose and your mouth, You hear things better when you hear with all your senses, I know that sounds odd but it’s true. How many times when you’re parallel parking for example. do you turn your radio volume down?
SE- (Laughs) You’re right .
NS- You know, to look behind you to pull the car into the spot, it just takes over your life when you can hear it through all the senses, it’s just an odd thing.
SE- I got that feeling that you were going for the live sound on the new tracks on “California Girl”. When I popped the disc in and surfed around the tracks I couldn’t really tell the vintage ones from the newly recorded ones because … for one thing, the pitch of your voice hasn’t changed at all, I mean, if anything it’s gotten technically better because you work it all the time. But young lady, I do know that you smoked for awhile…
NS- A very little while.
SE- And if I had known you then I would’ve told you to “Stop it!”
NS- That was only a couple of years because everybody else was doing it. We didn’t know then, you know?
SE- Yeah, and then later on all the ladies with the nice voices sounded like Popeye, but anyway…
SE- You really still sound like the girl in her twenties recording “Boots”.
NS- Oh, well… thanks. We really tried hard to make the album smooth acoustically. And part of that was to use the technical things that we used in the old days and not record with digital reverb and stuff but to use the analog stuff, and it’s much better.
SE- Did you do your own harmonies on some of those tracks?
NS- Yes, definitely. In the booklet… because other people ask that question, we have listed who does the background vocals on the songs.
SE- I could tell on “Cuando Calienta El Sol” that’s gotta be you doing back up’s.
NS- Yeah I did it, but my idea was to get a guy to sing it with me because the song is very sexy and the beach and the sun, your heart beating, and being close … it’s a passionate song and I thought it would make a perfect duet. So when I presented it to Disney I put a harmony part on, and with suggestions of people who could sing the duet with me but they said “no, no, no, leave it as it is!” So that’s what happened. That also was done live with me in the booth on a mic, my engineer also played bass on that so he’s live in the booth… the two of us in the booth. And then Derol Coraco the guitarist is in the studio because he was playing he was playing acoustic and we needed him to be protected with nothing leaking into his mic. So, instead of redoing the vocal we just left it because it seemed just fine, and warm, and there was no point. I did the harmony in the same spot in the booth (Laughs) in the control room. It was really basically more of a demo but they liked it the way it was.
SE- There was a song of yours that I thought your harmony gave the best vibe I’ve ever heard… I believe it was “Hook And Ladder”.
NS- I think I did harmony on the whoa, whoa’s not on the lyric. The hardest harmony on this album and the counterpoint stuff was “Saturday In The Park” that was a tough song for me to get all of those lines in there by myself, and different harmonies. Whereas Brian came in and did six part harmony immediately with no problem! (Laughs) He’s amazing.
SE It’s good to hear you freshen up some songs that people are a little familiar with and can easily warm up to and sing along with.
NS- I think some will be new to people. I doubt that anybody’s really heard “San Fernando Valley” unless their Bing Crosby fans.
SE- I got comfortable with the album right away, and I’m a musical snob, so whenever I put on a disc I immediately look for the clunker, or a song that doesn’t sound right.
NS- The clunker for me turned out not to be as bad a clunker so I won’t tell you what it is, but we did find another vocal take on it that we used. The one that we had been working with was to me a clunker, had no real personality. But eventually we found another vocal track in there… in the master tape so we were able to switch which made me very happy! I was going to do a new vocal on it but we really didn’t want to take anymore time because it was an expensive project this.
SE- On the new tracks, did you use musicians that you’ve always worked with?
NS- The one steady thread through this whole collection is Don Randi. Don was on all the old stuff and he’s on all the new stuff. But the drummer on the new stuff Clem Burke of Blondie. And then there’s Gilby Clark and Derol Coraco on guitar. I thought about getting the old crew back together… the wrecking crew but then I decided, no, I needed something fresh feel wise. And I’ve always wanted to work with Clem, and he gave me what I was looking for. He’s brilliant, he’s just brilliant. So is Hal Blaine, Hal’s on all of those other tracks. Hal Blaine reads the music and Clem Burke makes it up in his head. And I guess that’s really the only difference because both of them are just brilliant!
SE- Hal Blaine plays on just about all of your early records.
NS- I adore him! I absolutely adore him! He’s a lovely man. We’ve known each other since 1959 or 1960. I hope he feels good about the new album.
SE- I could’ve sworn that I heard the Hal Blaine style on the new CD.
NS- They’re all him! Every one of them, except for the new tracks.
SE- What record hasn’t he played on?
NS- I don’t know!
NS- I have no idea! I mean he’s worked with everybody I know.
SE- Most drummers steal so much from him and don’t even know it.
NS- By osmosis. You can’t help it. We worked together a lot in the past few years, in shows… we had fun.
SE- Oh, he played with you at your show at the Whisky last year.
NS- Yeah, oh yeah. We went to Ventura, to the Ventura Theater together… that was a great show! What a fabulous place to work acoustically.
SE Before we go, I wanted to talk Elvis with you a little. The film “Speedway” that was just about the only time a co-star had their song included on the soundtrack album.
NS- Well, I guess they felt it was time. I think… since Ann Margaret there hadn’t been anybody who was really an important… if you want to use that word… personality in the films with him. And I think that they wanted to take advantage of that because I had some hit records going. So, they had Lee write a song for me to do in the movie, so they put it on there. I only got to do one line in a song with Elvis which made me sad, I would loved to have done another song or two with him but … that’s the way it goes.
SE- I hope that someday they re-release the movie and include the out takes and scenes that were not used.
NS- Well we have funny out takes because we used to laugh so hard! I doubt that they ever printed any of that stuff.
SE Fun making that movie?
NS- Yeah, it was great. I got there in the dark …. because in the MGM makeup room they do the whole thing, the hair, the makeup, everything. Got there in the dark, and went home in the dark, but other than that I never saw daylight for the weeks that I was on the movie except on the weekends, but it was a great experience.
SE- Do you ever tune into some of the other films you were in when they show the pristine quality versions on AMC?
NS- No I don’t… I did tape “The Last Of The Secret Agents” because that’s not out from Paramount and they should put that out because that’s a very cute film.
SE- It’s very funny.
NS- I did see Marty Allen and Steve Rossi in December in Las Vegas, it was good to see them again. They came to my brothers show when I was there, really fun to see them.
SE- Thanks so much for your time.
NS- So I guess I’ll be seeing you up there.
SE- At Bimbo’s!
NS- On the 29th of June.
SE- I’ll be there! Always a great show at Bimbo’s!
NS- Yeah, it should be fun! Well, take care.
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