|Single by Nancy Sinatra|
|from the album Sugar|
|Nancy Sinatra singles chronology|
"Sugar Town" is a song written by songwriter-producer Lee Hazlewood and first recorded by American singer Nancy Sinatra in 1966. As a single released under the Reprise label, it peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in December 1966, while reaching number one on the Easy Listening chart in January 1967. It became a gold record. The song was included on Nancy Sinatra's LP, Sugar, also released in 1966, and was featured in her 1967 TV special Movin' with Nancy, released on home video in 2000.
Critic Richie Unterberger describes "Sugar Town," Sinatra's second largest hit single, as "daintier" than the material for which she was known, with a "carefree" lyric backed by the "big hook" of a "circular happy-go-lucky pluck of a guitar" with "nicely muted horns and harpsichord" and "fetching double-tracking of Sinatra's voice on the slightly jazzy chorus." A highlight, Unterberger writes, is the fadeout, where she dispenses with the lyrics and softly “la-las” the melody.
Nonetheless, "'Sugar Town' was an LSD song if there ever was one,” Hazlewood recalled in an interview, pointing to the line "Now I just lay back and laugh at the sun." Hazlewood elaborated:
I was in a folk club in LA which had two levels. I could see these kids lining up sugar cubes and they had an eye-dropper and were putting something on them. I wasn’t a doper so I didn’t know what it was but I asked them. It was LSD and one of the kids said, 'You know, it’s kinda Sugar Town.' Nancy knew what the song was about because I told her, but luckily Reprise didn’t.
Gossip columnist Walter Winchell derided "Sugar Town" as having "the worst lyrics ever written in a top ten song." "Hey, I spent a lotta time writing a bad lyric like that! The words are as stupid as I could get ‘em," Hazlewood retorted. "I edit a lot, even the dumb songs. The dumb songs are the hardest to write. ["Sugar Town"] took me a while. I wanted the dumbest lyric ever written to a song, to a doper song." Hazlewood singled out his lyric "I never had a dog that liked me some" as being particularly inane.
Like other songs Hazlewood wrote, "Sugar Town" was deliberately enigmatic: directed to a young audience, yet outwardly tame enough to receive radio play (though he denied that he had ever used LSD, or regularly partaken in drugs in general). He explained, "You had to make the lyric dingy enough where the kids knew what you were talking about — and they did. Double entendre. But not much more if you wanted to get it played on the radio. We used to have lotsa of trouble with lyrics, but I think it’s fun to keep it hidden a little bit." "It was hard to put any other songs with 'Sugar Town'," Nancy remembers. "It was basically about LSD, but was not publicized as that. It was Lee's 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds'. It went against my image."
In popular culture
The song plays in its entirety over the opening scene of Better Call Saul's season 3 opener, "Mabel."