Living in the Woods in a Tree:
Remembering Blaze Foley
Sybil Rosen

The University of North Texas Press 2008
#2 Lives of Musicians Series

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The dead have a long reach. And they can be patient. They wait till you are ready, and then they seep back into your heart and crack it open. They ooze out of the tissue where you’ve hidden them away and insist on being known again.

So begins Sybil Rosen's memoir of Texas music legend Blaze Foley, whose insistent ghost compelled her to retrace their steps together and make peace with a forgotten past. Living in the Woods in a Tree: Remembering Blaze Foley is Rosen's attempt to come to terms with Foley's mystique as the homeless "Duct Tape Messiah," and her reluctant role in the creation of his myth. Set into motion by the filming of the Austin-based documentary film Blaze Foley Inside, Rosen's journey - both past and present - offers a portrait of his earlier incarnation: the shy hippie musician who called himself Depty Dawg. The search for Depty's memory begins with her account of their druid-like idyll in a tree house without walls in the west Georgia pinewoods in the summer of 1975. Here Depty Dawg began to write songs and dream up the life and legend of Blaze Foley. The memoir revisits the lovers' adventuresome hitchhike to Austin, Texas, where they try unsuccessfully to jumpstart Blaze Foley's career, and follows them on to Chicago, where their parting inspired his best-loved lament, "If I Could Only Fly," later recorded by Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Kimmie Rhodes, and Joe Nichols. With the help of Austin musicians Gurf Morlix, Mandy Mercier, and Lost John Casner, Rosen explores her lost love's last decade in Texas, grappling with his tragic fate and her own grief and regret. Her tracing of his unending impact on her life navigates a lovers' roadmap along the permeable boundary between life and death. Using Blaze's song lyrics and letters to her as a compass, Rosen offers a glimpse of the healing that can reside in remembering love.

"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."
...Jim Caliguiri
The Austin Chronicle 10/31/08

"...a vividly evocative chronicle of late 1970s counterculture, and a poetic discourse on self-discovery, creativity, and love."
...Bliss
The Pasadena Weekly 12/11/08

"Rosen writes with the tenderness and heartache of a great country song."
...Nina Shengold
The Chronogram 4/09

Nominated for the 45th Georgia
Author of the Year Award (GAYA)
Creative Nonfiction Memoir