Book Review: Living in the Woods in a Tree: Remembering Blaze Foley
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Oct. 31, 2008
by Sybil Rosen
University of North Texas Press, 288 pp., $24.95
More famous dead than alive, Blaze Foley continues growing in legend. With Living in the Woods in a Tree, Sybil Rosen moves the story along in a way that's bewitching and remarkably down to earth. Rosen offers the rare point of view of being intimately involved with the man born Michael Fuller, describing their life together sharing a tree house in the Georgia woods during the counterculture of the mid-1970s. At the time, he was known as Depty Dawg, and the fabulous songwriter he became was still in gestation. Rosen writes of the times with such clarity and thoughtfulness that one can almost smell the red earth and glimpse the moon hovering over the roofless shack. For anyone curious about Foley's life or the piece of Texas music history he occupies, she fills lots of holes, even visiting Austin in the recent past to speak to cohorts like Gurf Morlix and Mandy Mercier. Yet her tale is as much about her journey through life as it is an encapsulation of the man whose songs have been sung by Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, and John Prine. Romantic without being cloying, Living in the Woods in a Tree is perhaps the most complete vision of the Duct Tape Messiah as we're likely to get, and Rosen portrays a complex, confounding subject with a simplicity and seductiveness that's all too rare.