Harry Dean Stanton

Harry Dean Stanton

Harry Dean Stanton

Partly Fiction

Omnivore Recordings

A character actor is generally described as one who portrays “unusual or eccentric” characters. In over 250 movies dating back to 1956, Harry Dean Stanton has pretty much defined the term. From early work such as Cool Hand Luke or In the Heat of the Night to classics such as Repo Man, Wise Blood and his masterpiece, Paris, Texas, Stanton has become famous for… well, being Harry Dean Stanton. His low-key delivery, use of space and silence, as well as having “an entire movie in his face” have made him one of the most beloved talents in film.

Now we can add singer to his resume. Although he’s been known throughout his career for music (he performs “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” in Cool Hand Luke) this soundtrack to the oddly compelling documentary of Stanton Partly Fiction is his first musical release, and he brings all the mystery and wonder of his filmed appearances to play with these 12 cuts. Backed up by Jamie James on guitar, and accompanying himself on harmonica, this record, recorded on a laptop in Stanton’s living room, is every bit as unique and heartwarming (in his own weird way) as his films.

His song selection is heavy on weepers- from Orbison’s “Blue Bayou” and George Jones’ “She Thinks I Still Care” to “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”, Stanton’s unadorned voice seems made to sing these songs, and in much the same way as his roles in movies seemingly couldn’t be done by any other actor. “Everybody’s Talkin'” (with Harry’s aside of “this is a song about heroin”) is letter perfect, as is his take on “Danny Boy”, that strips the well-worn song of all trappings of histrionics that generally plague it and replaces it with a sort of resigned emotional plea. In the movie he relates growing up singing Mexican folk music for his mother, and his “Cancion Mixteca” is warm and heartfelt, even if you can’t understand a word, and in fact, Stanton sings better in Spanish than he does English.

Harry Dean Stanton was the inspiration in part for Kris Kristofferson’s “The Pilgrim”- See him wasted on the sidewalk in his jacket and his jeans/Wearin’ yesterday’s misfortunes like a smile, and as Partly Fiction shows, he is one of our greatest character actors- only the character he plays is Harry Dean Stanton. God bless him, and may he sing forever.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Comin’ At Ya!
    Comin’ At Ya!

    The Blu-ray reissue of Comin’ At Ya, a 1981 3D Spaghetti Western movie falls flat.

  • Bobby Rush
    Bobby Rush

    Chicken Heads: A 50-Year History of Bobby Rush ( Omnivore Recordings). Review by James Mann.

  • Geezër

    Geezër brought their old-school show all the way from their Miami rest home, and Julius C. Lacking thinks they were quite spry.

  • Bully

    Bully greets Orlando with apathy and anger toward one of its theme parks. Jen Cray smiles and thinks, “Man, this band would have fit in well in the nineties!”

  • Luther Dickinson
    Luther Dickinson

    Blues & Ballads: A Folksinger’s Songbook: Volumes I & II (New West Records). Review by James Mann.

  • The Pop Group
    The Pop Group

    For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder. Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Conway

    Big Talk EP (Self-Released). Review by Jen Cray.

  • Freakwater

    Scheherazade (Bloodshot Records). Review by James Mann.

  • The Haymarket Squares
    The Haymarket Squares

    Light It Up. Review by Carl F Gauze.

  • Ani DiFranco
    Ani DiFranco

    Years pass, and so do our legends, but one constant remains: there are always artists living and breathing that are worth your time and attention. Ani DiFranco is a major one, according to Jen Cray and a whole legion of fans.

From the Archives