Don Henry

 

Don Henry Around music-industry Nashville, Don Henry is known as a guy the other writers love to hear. He writes remarkable songs and he sings them with equally extraordinary tenderness, humor, and sincerity. And, although Don might argue otherwise, he's a damn good guitarist, too.

It was no surprise then that his debut CD was filled with catchy, memorable, and entertaining songs. This used to be a place called a neighborhood with picket fences made of wood Tire swings and daydreams grew wild in the backyard... Billboard's Ken Schlager chose it as one of 1991's Top Ten records. So did Larry McClain of BAM magazine. Rolling Stone liked "Wild in the Backyard" enough to profile its creator, Don Henry, in their "New Faces" column. Enthusiastic reviews appeared in Entertainment Weekly, Stereo Review, the Gavin Report, and several major daily newspapers. In Morgan Hill, California, 12-year-old Don would write lyrics to Jim Croce's melodies.

Years later his own songs would be recorded by Ray Charles, Conway Twitty, the Oak Ridge Boys, Gary Morris, Ray Kennedy, and Kathy Mattea, among others. For co-writing Kathy's critically acclaimed hit, "Where've You Been," Don and Jon Vezner earned a Grammy, as well as awards from the Academy of Country Music, the Country Music Association, and the Nashville Songwriters Association International. In fact, "Where've You Been" was the first song ever to be so honored. "As a child I had a phonograph real early--my father was a musician-- and I remember playing all those Sherman Brothers songs, all those Disney things: "The Jungle Book," "Mary Poppins."

That is what really taught me songwriting. All those early songs were so lyrical, and very musical." The discerning listener might also hear traces of some of the other songwriters Don admires--Randy Newman, Elton John and Bernie Taupin, The Beatles, Cat Stevens--but the music is uniquely Don Henry, a man who prefers the walk of life in a rainbow of Chuck Taylor All-Stars rather than cowboy boots. His songs are funny, whimsical, wry, bittersweet, and poignant--all at the appropriate times. Many of them play like little movies in the listener's mind. Take "Harley," for example: There was a motorcycle mama and her man with a wind-burnt tan and a Harley Roarin' through Bakersfield when her water broke They pulled into a hospital and for a little joke... They named him Harley Many of Don's songs have a strong yet subtle social consciousness. Sometimes it lurks beneath a mask of comedy ("White House Keys"), other times it's purely observational ("Into a Mall").

The stunning "Beautiful Fool" sincerely ponders the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King: To fight a fight without a fist, all human instinct puzzles this How dare you threaten our existence Mahatma Gandhi, Jesus Christ, history repeats itself so nice Consistently we are resistant... ...to Love Don's unique perspective is expressed in instantly memorable melodies and equally smart arrangements that appeal to listeners across musical borders, and across the nation. "Going out on the road is great. Performing is an opportunity to express yourself in a different way," says Don, who's won over audiences from coast to coast-- whether 25 people or 25,000. As Dirty Linen observed: "The crowd was won over by this guy and his guitar. Long may he write."

At Don's shows, you'll easily spot those who have yet to hear his songs; upon first experiencing them, the listener is often moved to laughter or tears. And everyone leaves humming, because Don Henry songs stay with you. Don has recently completed recording a long-awaited follow-up to "Wild in the Backyard," something more than a few people will be happy to hear. "Every time I play live, someone asks about the next record," he notes. "It's finally happening. I recorded it at home, with help from good friends like Ray Kennedy, Bill Lloyd, Pat Buchanan, Marshall Chapman, Gary Nicholson, Jim Hoke and Kim Richey" Tentatively titled "Flowers and Rockets" the fourteen songs that compose the album will not disappoint.

Don is an incredibly prolific writer and had more than 60 great new songs from which to choose. He's also a gifted producer, having shared those duties on his debut disc with Ray Kennedy as well as producing singer/songwriter Kenya Walker's debut album "Alligator Purse" In the last year, his songs have been cut by Kathy Mattea, Christy Sutherland, Lonestar, Rosie Flores and Bryan White.

 Bio|Reviews|Discography|Photos|Faves