There’s more than one way to skin a cat, you know.

May 12, 2009

I find myself conflicted at the moment. It’s a thought I’ve been harboring for a while, but I always thought, “It’s just because you’re in a silly mood now, dear boy, listen to this in the proper light of day and it will all make sense.”

It hasn’t and I don’t think it ever will.

I’m ready to officially name another one of life’s great mysteries.

Why is it that Nancy Sinatra’s pop hits — post “Boots” and before the whole foreboding psychedelic stuff with Lee Hazelwood — make straight guys feel gay despite a run of arguably some of the sexiest album covers ever?

I just don’t get it.

Now, you can’t deny “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’.” Seriously. It’s pop perfection. Killer bassline, and a delivery that says, “Oooh, you screwed up dude. You had me, I’m the sh*t and now your smarter, less lippy friend is gonna be rockin’ this.” Plus it comes in a package bearing this artwork.

bootsRockin’, right? Totally. It’s the reason I bought Emma Bunton’s Free Me album. Great tunes, awesome packaging, can’t beat it. But actually, the rest of the Boots album is cack. So people started thinking the single might be something of a novelty, but what the hell — she looked good (if slightly lacking in rhythm) singing it on TV, and I’d imagine there must have been some kind of excitement in ogling Frank Sinatra’s daughter.

But then the general thought seemed to become, “Hmmm. There are a few different chords in ‘Boots.’ We can rearrange them, keep a strong bassline, and get another hit!” This is where the problem really starts. Where “Boots” verged on cheesiness, the tune was solid enough to give Nancy the benefit of the doubt and the album cover to this day forgives a lot of sins. But “How Does That Grab You, Darlin’?” verged on cheesiness and then stumbled right into it like a girl at a frat party who’s let the boys mix too many of her drinks.

Nancy Sinatra – How Does That Grab You, Darlin’?

As much as this song makes me feel like I’m in the midst of some European sailor bar’s playlist, I do really like the thought of Lee Hazlewood in the control room stroking his chin and nodding. And then sniggering his ass off that he got Frank Sinatra’s daughter to sing, “Don’t come looking for your pussycat, ‘cos I won’t be here no how.” And on a record for her father’s label to boot.

But perhaps knowing she could get caught pulling a fast one on the public, Nancy upped the sexy ante for the artwork and surpassed the Boots cover by showing just the right amount of skin for How Does That Grab You?



Then things got exponentially campier. Realizing “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'” could only be turned so many different sideways, Nancy’s tunesmiths knocked together something a bit different, although with a bubblegum hook and limited enough range to guarantee another innocently sexy delivery.

But “Sugar Town” takes you out of the European sailor’s bar and puts you right in Bruce Vilanch’s rec room.

Nancy Sinatra – Sugar Town

But with the music going in an ever more questionable direction, Nancy busted out the clevage for the Sugar artwork and basically gave listeners a Maxim cover 30-odd years before the magazine even existed.


Her left hand lets you know where things are going if the music should leave Vilanch’s rec room for more rainbow-colored pastures still, so it’s no surprise that Daddy stepped in at this point and did the “Somethin’ Stupid” duet with her. He probably had a word with Lee too — threatening a little bit of ring-a-ding-ding for that bozo if his daughter’s music direction didn’t take a sharp left turn. So, see, the out-there-ness of “Some Velvet Morning” really is explainable.

But for as bodacious as mid-1960s Nancy is, why do I feel so questionable for listening to those songs? It’s so alarming. They’re good enough to make me not want to remove them from my computer, but bad enough to make me pray my guests don’t scroll through the iTunes library and the next get together at my place.

And if there’s anymore question that Nancy is out to totally confuse every one of her male admirers, she waited almost 30 years AFTER the “Sugar” cover shot to pose for Playboy.

Morrissey’s one of her biggest fans. That’s the last I’m gonna say about it.

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