ADAM HARVEY BEATS FINAL FACTORY WHISTLE
“Port Henry road leads to a factory, my old man worked every day/ he always dreamed of playing football, fate didn't see it quite that way/ and he'd say ‘son make the most of every chance that comes and goes/ don't be sitting on the side line when the final whistle blows.'” - Do The Best You Can - Adam Harvey-Clint Crighton.
Adam Harvey's dad Len was on the verge of a rugby career when disaster struck 50 year ago in Queensland .
“He hated the short drive every morning from Leopold to Moolap to the factory near Geelong . He spent almost his life in that aluminium factory at Alcoa and he hated every day of it.”
But, like his son who worked as a truckie to make ends meet in his youth, it was not Len's career of choice.
“He played for Norths - the Red Devils - who are the feeder club for a lot of the NRL Clubs so it was Rugby League,” Adam revealed.
“He was doing really well and he got a contract to go and play for New Zealand . Before he left he and his mates had a big party to celebrate and he was on a motor bike and his mate ran over him on a street in Crib Island which is where Brisbane Airport is now. It cracked his knee cap in half and his leg was broken in a couple of places. So he took the job as a rigger at Alcoa and had trouble with his knee all his life. Despite the pain he hung in there and retired in his early sixties.”
Harvey credits his father's faith, ethos and paternal advice as his career catalyst.
“He used to say to me when I started playing guitar in country music and going in talent quests ‘you follow this music thing and see how far it will take you,'” Harvey confessed.
“And he said “you don't want to be like me and dread every morning when that alarm goes off at 5 o'clock and you've got to get up and do something you hate.' It stuck in my head. I thought it would be good to include a little football speech in the song.”
Ironically, Adam's song also proved to be timely therapy for his mentor.
“Dad has been very sick, we nearly lost him, he was in a coma for eight weeks,” Harvey explained.
“He has had a helluva lot of trouble with cancer. I sent a tape of the song down to my mum. It was lovely, she took the little stereo into the hospital and played it for him and he had a little cry.”
Family have long been a strong focus of the music of Harvey with his wife Kathy, daughter Leylah and son Conway all prominent - especially on his new album.
MY HOME AND FAMILY
“When I hear country music/ it takes me right back to my family home/ sitting by dad's radio/ trying to play them songs on my own.” - My Home And Family - Adam Harvey-Colin Crichton.
Tom T gave Adam a souvenir rug after the visitor sang his version of Hall classic Old Dogs, Children & Watermelon Wine at the family home.
But it was a young Wagga raised singer-songwriter Colin Crighton - not Hall - who rhymed jacaranda with veranda in the new song.
“Tom T Hall wrote I'll Be With You When The Jacaranda Blooms on one his Australian tours but it was a mate of mine rhymed jacaranda with veranda on My Home And Family ,” Harvey confessed.
“I was writing that song and didn't have that line in there. There's this young bloke called Colin Crighton who comes from Wagga. I have known him for years. He spent a lot of time in America . He said ‘I'm not really a country writer but I want to write with you.' He's a young guy and has these great ideas and angles and lines and we wrote a stack of songs together for this album. He's a really talented young bloke and I really enjoyed it.”
SHEL SILVERSTEIN AND BOBBY BARE
“If the wind stopped blowing, then the land would be dry/ and your boat wouldn't sail and, son, your kite couldn't fly/ and the grass would see your trouble and she'd tell the wind/ and the wind would start blowing again.” - What If - Shel Silverstein.
“It's a beautiful memory I'll never forget to get in that studio and sing with her. She has piano lessons every week and singing. She really loves music. I was really hoping she and Conway would get a real job but they might both end up in the music industry. My wife Kathy heard that song on the local radio here and said ‘wouldn't that be a great duet?' I said ‘yeah - with Leylah.' I played it to Leylah and said yeah, how much are you paying?' She reckons I'm holding her back now.”
But it was son Conway, now 13 and named after the late Conway Twitty, who inspired My Little Boy .
“I was sitting here in the office and he was heading off on his first day of high school and he's nearly six foot tall and nearly as tall as me,” Adam recalled.
“He just walked out the door to catch the bus and I thought where has that time gone? I got teary and started writing the song and finished it in 15 minutes. I sang it to my wife Kathy and she cried and sang it to my producer Graham Thompson and he cried. I was in the studio recording while Duncan was filming a video and I could see behind his camera and he had tears pouring down his face.”
But don't call Harvey 's hombres sooks - you might have to answer to Conway.
“He does gym a couple of days a week, boxing and basketball and loves his DJ work,” Harvey revealed.
“He loves electronic music.”
COLIN BUCHANAN MERE MALES
“Jeans don't pick themselves up when you leave them on the floor/ mud don't pick itself when you walk it through the door/ my birthday's on the same day that it's always been before/ and sending flowers your wife is not against the law.” - Mere Males - Adam Harvey-Colin Buchanan.
Harvey was so moved by the suffering of female family friends he revamped the Buddy Brock-Kim Williams penned 1999 Sammy Kershaw hit She Don't Know She's Beautiful as a theme song for the McGrath Foundation.
“I've had a lot of songs over the years for blokes, the beer drinking songs, but I've got involved in the McGrath Foundation and a very dear friend of ours Jan had a double mastectomy,” Harvey explained.
Harvey lightened the mood of his album with the bluegrass fuelled domestic ditty Mere Male - penned with Colin Buchanan.
“I wrote that one with Colin Buchanan. I'm a real hands-on bloke around the home. Kathy works a couple of days a week. I love to cook for us. I do the washing. I'm still getting growled at - because I don't do it right. I still wash the towels in with the darks. She says I know why you are doing it – you are waiting for me to say never wash again – leave it for me. There was on old magazine New Idea . Was a column Mere Male . Wrote that in half an hour.”
‘Kids' and his duet with McAlister Kemp on One Full Bottle Of Rum .
“I wrote it earlier this year with Clint Crighton as well. I never imagined it as a duet. You know how you have those friends you only see once every six months. I have people saying you only write songs about beer – you never write songs about rum.
When we finished the song I thought McAlister Kemp great blokes - perfect for it.”
“You're looking at a man who's proud/ you're looking at a man who's found where he wants to be/ where he's meant to be/ family life is alright with me.” - Family Life - Adam Harvey-Clint Crichton.
But his fitting finale was You Are On My Mind - inspired by both parents.
“My mum used to always whinge and moan about my dad and then when Dad was in that coma and didn't look like he was going to survive I went down there to Geelong to see them both,” Harvey recalled.
“I realised that was all bluff and bravado. Talking to my mum I realised she really was at a loss and really wondering what she was going to do without her life partner. It really began to dawn on her that she might be on her own and lost her soul-mate. I thought there's a song in that.”
So it was a natural bookend for an even dozen songs kicked off by the title track entrée.
Harvey 's national tour includes a return visit to Warrnambool - due west of his former home at Terang on Highway 1.
“My sister in-law has the nursery at Allansford - Pearson's Nursery ,” says Harvey .
“She sold one in Warrnambool.”
But Harvey has no plans for international travel - with one exception.
“We're touring in October and November, then it's quiet over Christmas before Tamworth,” Harvey explained.
“We have dates booked for April and May. I don't have the desire to pack up the family and move to America . I'm very fortunate. I've got the best job in the world here. I make enough money to pay the bills. We do these cruises on cruise ships, we've done about seven of those. I get to take the kids all over the world - it's basically a paid holiday for the whole family.”
But there will be one small interruption before Christmas.
“Yes, December 21 is the date for the Big 40 - it's going to come around and I'll make the most of it,” Harvey joked.
Family Life (Sony) was released on August 22.