First printed in
Buddy Magazine, March 2016 issue.
For many of us die-hard Texans, especially those who made straight A in Texas History, there doesn’t seems to be any more to be learned. One Texan-by-choice, Alex Harvey, is showing through his art there’s still lots out there to be learned. Alex, whose family moved to Brownsville when he was just a little redneck, has been collecting Texas tales over the years, writing them down, and verifying them. Now, those tales and historical moments are in his book of the same name, “Texas 101,” and in songs recorded on his latest CD, also called Texas 101.
Harvey’s CD Release on Texas 101 is scheduled for Thursday, March 24, at Hank’s Texas Grill in McKinney.
You know Alexander Harvey, probably, mainly from the great hits he wrote and others recorded — “Delta Dawn” and “Reuben James” being among them. It promises to be a fun night, with western singer/songwriter Fritz Schultz opening, and with national rodeo bronc busting medal winner Hawkeye Henson singing along on some songs with Alex. And Alex is one who will stay after the show and talk with any and every songwriter out there about any and every aspect of songwriting.
The book “Texas 101” was published last year, and described on the front cover as being “What every non-native needs to know.” For instance, did you know that Conrad Hilton opened his first hotels in Texas, beginning in 1919? Or that the first sports broadcast came out of Texas, Thanksgiving Day 1919? Or that Vernon Dalhart, who sold 25 million copies of “The Prisoner’s Song” was originally an opera singer before he turned to ‘hillbilly’ music or that he died penniless, as he never collected many royalties for that song? That and more (as the late-night television news folks say) in the book… how Lyndon Johnson proposed to Lady Bird on their first date, which was over breakfast…
In 1986, The Texas Legislature adopted one of Alex Harvey’s songs, “No Place But Texas,” as the state’s official Sesquicentennial (150-year anniversary) song. “No place but Texas, would I ever own. No place but Texas, my home sweet home.”
This new CD is jam-packed with cowboy songs… no, not country songs… It’s another C&W — cowboy and western songs. “The Pecos (River) Is So Far Away,” about a cattle drive; “Goodbye to Montana,” about returning his best friend back to Texas for burial — ‘Put you beneath that pecan tree and hang your spurs for good.’; a quixotic love song, “Girl With Eyes Of Green,” about a young man who falls in love with a Boy’s Town girl in Mexico. And she, reciprocating, waits with her suitcase ready at the door, for him to return and marry her.
The list of iconic singers who have recorded Alex Harvey-penned songs goes well beyond Tanya Tucker and Kenny Rogers. The late Chris Ledoux covered Harvey’s “Five Dollar Fine For Whining.” Bette Midler recorded “Delta Dawn” simply because she loved it, The Glaser Brothers’ hit “Rings” was one of Harvey’s songs; Jimmy Buffet, Billy Ray Cyrus — the list goes on and on.
Kenny Rogers, who called Harvey up on stage last year when he was being installed into the Country Music Hall of Fame, said that Alex Harvey was the reason he (Rogers) was where he was today, because of “Reuben James” having been Rogers’ first hit as a country artist. Rogers went on to record 16 more Alex Harvey-written songs. Harvey has also acted in movies including “The Long Summer of George Adams” with James Garner.
Alex Harvey moved to Nashville sometime soon after the 1986 Texas Sesquicentennial celebration. But, he’s back home now, having purchased land in the Texas Hill Country, where he is already anticipating being surrounded by Texas Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes.