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You’ve undoubtedly seen Harry Dean Stanton in several of his more than 250 IMDb movie credits, including Paris, Texas, The Godfather Part II and Pretty in Pink, as well as such TV shows as HBO’s Big Love, where he played the cruel patriarch, but did you know he was also an accomplished musician?
No less then David Lynch, who directed him in Wild Heart, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and The Straight Story, said of Stanton’s music: “He has one of the most beautiful voices ever. He sings from the level of the soul. The way he sings the songs opens my heart and makes me cry.”
The many facets of the venerable character actor are explored in Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction, a critically acclaimed documentary directed by Sophie Huber that has been screened at more than 50 festivals, both internationally and in the U.S. (including its stateside premiere at SXSW in 2013). The movie documents the iconic actor in his intimate moments and features film clips, as well as Stanton performing his own aching renditions of country and folk songs. The film explores Stanton’s enigmatic outlook on his life, his hidden talents as a musician, and includes interviews with David Lynch, Wim Wenders, Sam Shepard, Deborah Harry and Kris Kristofferson.
PHOTOS: An Ode to ’60s Folk Music: The Making of ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’
The soundtrack album (recorded in Harry Dean’s living room) is being released today on Omnivore Recordings in CD, digital and LP formats (first pressing on limited-edition orange vinyl) . Stanton is accompanied by Jamie James on all tracks, with Don Was sitting in on several of them
The release contains both tracks from the Record Store Day 7” picture disc: a cover of the 1983 George Jones hit “Tennessee Whiskey” and a new version of “Canción Mixteca,” the Mexican folk song Stanton originally recorded with Ry Cooder for Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas (winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival). Other classic covers in the set include “Blue Bayou,” “Danny Boy” and “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” written by Stanton friend and film contributor Kristofferson. It also includes his version of the Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin’,” popularized by Harry Nilsson in the film Midnight Cowboy, and “Promised Land,” the Chuck Berry classic later covered by The Band, Elvis Presley and James Taylor, among others, which can be heard here.
STORY: Harry Dean Stanton, Great Character Actor and Character, on His Unusual Career (Video)
Director Hubor first met Stanton in the ’90s forming a longlasting friendship that culminated in her directing the documentary. “Years before I came up with the idea to make this portrait, I started recording songs with Harry Dean. There were hardly any recordings ever made with him, even though he had been invited by renowned musicians to record in their studios. I went up to his house with a microphone and a laptop and started recording songs with him there, where he felt most comfortable.”
The film, released theatrically late last year, can be downloaded on iTunes and purchased on DVD. The soundtrack is also available on iTunes.
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