DIARY - 8 OCTOBER 2003
HARVEY SHOOTS FAUX COWBOYS FOR TARGET PRACTICE
just blew in from the city/ though he can't sing he's sure pretty/ he
ain't seen a rodeo but he'll look good on video/ he grew up on Van Halen,
never heard of Willie or Waylon/ his roots don't go too far but he's gonna
be a star." - 'Cowboy For A Day' - Adam Harvey-Rod McCormack-Billy
born trucking troubadour Adam Harvey was spooked by clotheshorses on the
urban cowboy range he didn't get angry.
Harvey sharpened his spurs and wrote 'Cowboy For A Day' about the
posse of cyber chappies and chappettes cashing in on the most popular
Harvey's parody lampoons the armies of faux cowboys and cowgirls making
hit and run forays into the music.
"These people are flying the country banner and it's just bad
rock 'n roll," Harvey told Nu Country on the eve of his November
tour of Victoria to promote his fifth album 'Cowboy Dreams' (ABC-Universal).
don't know anything about country music. I was talking to a young country
singer in Brisbane. He said 'I love real country music like you do. I'm
going to do an album with Stewie French because he'll give me a country
album but he wants me to record a song by some bloke called Lefty Frizzell.
Who the hell's that?' I said he was Merle Haggard's inspiration. He said
'I love that Merle Haggard, he does Good Hearted Woman."
'The Hag' may not be flattered to be mistaken for Waylon & Willie
but Harvey, who has the country cred that rivals would kill for, is now
cutting a Frizzell song on all of his albums.
Adam, blessed with a booming baritone and roots country in his veins,
is the type of country singer fans and writers crave equally.
There's nothing contrived about the dry witted truckie who speaks his
mind without a trace of rancour or malice.
The real Harvey is what you see and hear - he delivers his stage patter
with the natural charm few can emulate.
He loves traditional country music but there's none of the jingoistic
Australiana of the facile flag wavers.
The singer confessed his label tried to stop him including 'Cowboy For
A Day' on his disc.
But not because the faux cowboy tag might fit some label mates.
"A lot of these kids just want to be famous, they don't care how,"
says Harvey, "they know nothing about country music. They think it's
going to be the easiest way. They see the door open and think they'll
cross over because they want to be the next Shania Twain. Country has
become like a Mattel factory and they keep churning out the Barbie Dolls."
Harvey, born in spud country at Leopold near Geelong, was reluctant to
name faux cowboys blowing in from cyber space and the suburbs.
"Mark O'Shea openly said he didn't like country music," Harvey
confessed, "he only knew one country song at Gympie talent quest
and had to do a rock song for his second number. His heart wasn't in it,
he is now overseas trying to get a boy band started. Just what the world
needs - another boy band. You can be what you like but don't try to tell
me it's country - and that you love country and you've always loved country
and you know all about it when you haven't got a clue. That's what the
song is about."
Harvey, 28 and father of two, enlisted Nashville stone country hit writer
Billy Yates to help him finish the song on one of his Music City sojourns
with producer and co-writer Rod McCormack.
Yates has released a couple of albums but is best known as a writer -
he penned the George Jones comeback hit 'Choices'
They also wrote Cajun flavoured 'Louisiana Rendezvous' with the co-writer
of 'The House That Jack Built' from previous album 'Working Overtime.'
"I love the Mavericks and wanted a Cajun song," says Harvey,
"so we started fiddling around. People go across the world for a
dream holiday so we wrote it without going to New Orleans."
Harvey grew up driving trucks but on American trips hooked up with songsmiths
diverse as comedic western swing maestro Cornell Hurd, Lubbock reared
Kimmie Rhodes, honky tonker David Lee Murphy and Jerry Salley.
"I hang out a lot with Jerry," revealed Harvey, "he's doing
a lot of writing with Catherine Britt. It looks like he's written the
title track of her new album. We wrote 'A Little More To It Than That'
and 'Little Cowboy Dreams' for this and 'Two Stepping Fool.'"
Harvey is honest about the benefits of writing with chart toppers.
"We take over 30 or 40 ideas and match them up with the writers,"
says Adam "we might have David Lee Murphy for bar room songs and
party anthems 'She's Acting Crazy' and Jim McBride for the love ballads
like 'Call It Love.' We wanted a love song but not a cheesy one like those
boy bands with the baggy track suits who sing that baby treat you right
all the night stuff. I hate that, it's how the average bloke tells his
wife he loves her. It took us 8 months to finish the last frigging line
of that song. It was driving us mad. A day or so before we were about
to record I cracked a beer and thought I can't let this go. I wrote she
felt a kick today. I wanted to say she was pregnant without saying it."
Harvey and McCormack wrote with Ms Rhodes, Hurd and Timmy Campbell in
an Austin sojourn that peaked at a famed bar when he joined Chris Wall
on stage to perform a song he cut on 'Working Overtime.'
"I took the album to him and he played it over the P.A system and
he said 'we'll see if you're any good,'" Harvey revealed, "he
got me up to sing 'I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight.' It was amazing.
I sang with the bloke who wrote it at the Broken Spoke."
It flowed easy as his writing session with Ms Rhodes whose duets include
a swag with neighbour Willie Nelson.
"We sat out in yard and had a cup of tea as we wrote 'Nobody Knows,'
Harvey recalled, "she's a beautiful poet, it came really easy. It
was about growing up as kids, a dam with a tree growing in middle. She's
a real country girl, grew up near Lubbock. We could relate to old days,
at Leopold it was potato paddocks back then. It was about childhood secrets."
A novitiate was the third hand on 'She Don't Who It Yet' - a George Jones
"Timmy Campbell was a young kid hanging around Austin," says
Adam, "it was his first cut. I used to drink at the 'Dinosaur' in
Geelong. There was a barmaid called Delaney," Harvey confessed, "she
was going out with this other guy. I used to sit at the bar but never
told her how I felt. So now she knows it, there you go darling."
But the sting of this tale is in the tail.
"David Lee Murphy is a really cool guy, the bar room anthem king,"
Harvey revealed, "he doesn't like to write before 8 at night so we
went to this bar near his farm at Franklin.
"Smoky bar rooms suit me pretty good too. 'Acting A Little Crazy'
is a song about the missus cutting loose in the old days. When we finished
writing on bar stools he decided to drive home. I said 'you can't drive.'
He said 'I'll be alright' and we got in the car in the park where a cop
was checking the cars. He was right behind us when David never used his
blinker to pull out. I said 'man, there's a cop right behind us.' He put
his blinker on, pulled out and went down the wrong side of road. The cops
put the lights and sirens on and chased us. His first reaction in his
big old Bronco was to go up over the median strip. The cops pulled him
up and dragged him out of the car but this cop was a fan. He had a country
band of his own. David Lee promised he would go and sing with the cop's
band and hang out with him. He sat and bullshitted and got off after the
cop gave him a lecture. I just sat there, didn't say a word. I didn't
want to be there at all, you don't want any trouble in America. You just
don't get back into the country. They made David's wife come and pick
Harvey has hooked up with a vast variety on his overseas trips - many
worked but some didn't.
"When I was in Austin I wrote with Cornell Hurd who had a great sense
of humour," Harvey recalled, "I hadn't heard any of his songs
before but it worked fine. It's a bit of a hit and miss thing, we had
a yarn and talked. You have to bare your all. We tried to write with famous
songwriter Kostas but it didn't work. It was a bloody nightmare. You know
within half an hour if it's going to work. It was more an ego thing with
him. He had this idea of a song called Boom Boom Boomerang Heart won't
you came back to me but we knew it wouldn't work."
Hurd taught Harvey his novelty 'Genitalia Of A Fool' which Adam performs
live but it didn't make 'Cowboy Dreams' - not even as one of the obligatory
Harvey likes to balance radio friendly covers with stone country tunes
such as 'Love Bug,' penned by Curtis Wayne and Wayne Kemp and once a hit
for George Jones.
"It was exactly what we needed," Harvey confided.
So was 'A Little Unfair' written by Hank Cochran and Edward Howard and
cut by the late Lefty Frizzell.
"I had a version of Lefty singing it," says Harvey, "the
intro throws you out which makes it a challenge and good song to do."
"When Lonely Met Love", is a radio song penned by - Tim Nicholls
and Pam Tillis's second ex husband Bob Dipiero.
The characters include a bloke with dog named Bob and girl with cat named
Killer and dog named Bob.
Another crowd pleaser is 'Hush' - an offcut of sorts of Tom T Hall's 'Harper
Valley PTA,' a hit for latter day Christian singer Jeannie C Riley.
It was written by young Turk Craig Morgan - a plankee from Atlantic Records,
Nashville, at the time CEO, expatriate Australasian Barry Coburn, went
down with the ship - and veterans Bill Anderson and Buddy Cannon.
"It's a drinking and cheating song never recorded before," says
Harvey, "I got an old demo of it. It's a bit controversial. It's
what is happening in every street in every town - the gossip. Everybody
knows what's going on but we try to pretend we don't."
Well, could it be Terang where Adam and his wife Kathy lived before heading
north to the NSW Central Coast?
"It's more likely on the central coast than Terang unless it's at
the retirement village there," quipped the singer.
Harvey has become a prolific writer since on his overseas trips and at
"When we're in Nashville we write every day," says Harvey, "that
was one of many songs pitched to us. The majority of stuff you get pitched
is crap because they want to keep the best stuff for their big acts. They
give us all this Brooks & Dunn stuff. They think they're giving us
country music but it's not, it's a waste of time. I love to listen to
the Bob McDill stuff, I told this young publisher. He said he didn't know
him. His songs probably paid for publishing company building."
One of McDill's happy clients Don Williams is making his third Australian
tour late this year.
"His albums are coming out on ABC," Harvey revealed, "part
of the deal is he has to do a duet with me. 'The Shake Of A Hand' from
previous album 'Working Overtime' was a Don Williams style song."
Harvey has a batch of original songs he plans to pitch to international
"I have about 10 songs lying around," says Harvey.
"Rod has signed with BMG Publishing but you have to know the producer
or artist to get cuts. George Strait, before he cuts, visits Dean Dillon.
I have a couple of songs on local singer Daniel Thompson's western swing
album produced by Stewie French. I also had a song on hold for Slim Dusty
trucking album but he fell ill. Jimmy Little is also keen on another of
Harvey, like many peers, has used his status to become involved in volunteer
The former truckie chose 'Convoy For Kids' which started in 1991.
Truckies pay a set amount to join convoys for kids shows - Harvey has
gone one step further by performing free concerts for children with cancer.
"I chose Convoy For Kids because I used to drive trucks and because
I've got two healthy kids," says Harvey, "they made me the patron
saint of that, the ambassador. It's better when you find a charity right
down your alley. I've got the best job in the world doing what I'm doing.
I reckon it doesn't hurt to do a few good deeds. Every couple of months
I do a concert, about 6 to 8 a year. Caterpillar - William Adams in Melbourne
pay for PA hire and air fares so every cent goes straight to the charity."
'Cowboy Dreams' was released in May before his East Coast and Van Diemens
Adam returns for a November tour with Beccy Cole.
October Eastbank Centre, Shepparton Vic ph: (03) 5832 9511
Wednesday 29th October Ballarat Multiplex, Ballarat Vic ph: (03) 5331
Thursday 30th October Hamilton Performing Arts Centre, Hamilton Vic ph:
(03) 5573 0429
Friday 31st October Horsham Town Hall, Horsham Vic ph: (03) 5381 2202
Saturday 1st November Geelong Costa Hall, Geelong Vic ph: (03) 5225 1200
Sunday 2nd November Warrnambool PAC, Warrnambool Vic ph: (03) 5561 5233
For further information:
Cranium Management (Adam Harvey) ph: (02) 9660 6444
Allied Artists (Beccy Cole) ph: (02) 9712 3300 www.beccycole.com
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