Friday, September 15, 2017


I stole part of the above title from a comment on a great Harry Dean performance of the classic Jim Reeves song "He'll Have to Go"  at his 80th birthday party.The audio is not so great on it.

But the audio is pretty dang good on a wide variety of other Harry Dean Stanton Band tunes available on youtube. My favorite is this version of LOVE POTION #9. Looks like some Hollywood studio pros backing him, especially the trumpet player. I'd love to know who he is, as his playing sounds very familiar. In any event, the trumpet solo starting at about 1:35 is just absolutely awesome.

That day that always comes for all of us arrived for Harry Dean Stanton. Living to 91 is a damn great thing, particularly when you remained active in your art until it was your time to go.

I wrote some eight years ago about Harry Dean and my great admiration for him HERE and told some of my stories about chasing him all over Hollywood. To keep up with Harry's gigs in those pre-internet days, friends would send me the gig pages from the Los Angeles Chronicle and I subscribed to a magazine called Music Connection for a number of years, which covered the music scene in general in LA.

Ah, Harry Dean, you brought so many of us so much pleasure with your acting and your  singing and your art. 

Although I am a musician, I'm not an actor, yet the fact that Harry Dean's acting career really didn't take off big time until he was 58 years old, after decades of character actor roles, gives me hope that I'll shoot off into the stratosphere SOON on my future ventures, since I'm nearing that age.

Harry Dean kept a low profile personal life. Off the top  of my head, I recall that at some point after moving to LA, he and Jack Nicholson roomed together for several years, in a remote house in one of the beautiful canyons and hills overlooking Hollywood. You can't tell me those guys didn't have some fun in that house!

He served our country in the U.S. Navy as a cook and was in the Battle of Okinawa. Do you think that experience was what drove Harry to acting? Even as a cook, men you've gotten to know disappeared and died. You saw the disfigured. Maybe that was what led him to leave his studies in Kentucky and head to Pasadena to study acting, as did other of his day that were WWII and Korean War vets.

Harry was 7 years older than my late mom and dad. He took a chance. A big chance. While my parents successfully pursued the American Dream, guys like Harry were still doing character parts.

When El Fisho Jr. was much younger, in elementary school, like his dad he developed an interest in U.S. military history. We watched Kelley's Heroes many many many many times, an extremely safe movie nowadays and hardly violent at all. Heavy on dialog. It captivated me as a child when it was on T.V. 

I made a point to indicate who Harry Dean was and tell him of some of my fascination with his acting and his music. Over the years, he's seen several movies and shows with Harry Dean, but he's not the fan I am. My wife is a big fan, but again, apart from a few good friends spread throughout The Great State of Texas and a few other places, there are few I've met that share my fascination with Harry Dean.

It is said Harry's passing was peaceful. I've been in that same hospital that he passed in many times for various medical testing.

I'll always remember seeing him play music. As great as his acting abilities, he always touched a subtle nerve in the music he played. Go to YouTube and do a search on his name. I've provided a few links about, and Love Potion #9 remains a big favorite. I'll get it going on the phone bluetoothing to the car stereo driving down the road and hitting repeat a few times. I really need to find out who that trumpet player was as I'd like to hear some more of his stuff.

I'll write some more soon about Harry Dean. He made the world a better place. He made me laugh and feel different feelings and his music levitated me to a joy that certain bands do. He has charisma in his musical delivery.

I'll close with one of my favorite clips from the movie Repo Man,
where Harry Dean is schooling his protege Emilio Estavez on the CODE OF THE REPO MAN It's so hard to believe this clip was from a movie that released 33 years ago. Man, it just seems like yesterday we rented that on VHS and cracked up. It was one of those outstanding movies of that time, along with Paris, Texas and Taxi Driver and so many great masterpieces.


An ordinary person spends his life avoiding tense situations. A repo man spends his life getting into tense situations.

Bud: [doing speed with Otto] Never broke into a car, never hotwired a car. Never broke into a truck. 'I shall not cause harm to any vehicle nor the personal contents thereof, nor through inaction let the personal contents thereof come to harm' It's what I call the Repo Code, kid!
 Don't forget it--etch it in your brain. Not many people got a code to live by anymore.

To some, Repo Man might not be on the level of more dramatic movies. There is all kinds of stuff going on in Repo man, with Emilio stuck in a highly dysfunctional family and  as a former punk rocker, just looking for his place in life.

I hope your spirit is happy and free, Harry Dean.

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