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Rock'N'Roll: Harry Dean Stanton

Are there similarities between acting and the music world?

It’s all performing arts. If you’re a singer, there’s no transition to being an actor. In fact you can take anybody off the street and make them a film actor.

Is it true you nearly became a singer?

I sang all the time in glee clubs, high school and then through college and even the navy. I was blessed with a good ear. As for my career, I just went with the flow of whatever was happening. Everything unfolds and nobody’s in charge.

You’ve just released the soundtrack to a documentary about you, Partly Fiction. Why the wait for a solo album?

I’d had opportunities before. I recorded with Ry Cooder on Paris, Texas for the theme song of the movie. I’ve also sung with George Jones, Kris Kristofferson and Joan Baez. And with Willie Nelson in a motel room in Hawaii for a couple of hours. Then there was Bob Dylan. He was a fascinating guy with a wonderful mind. A natural-born poet and artist.

Partly Fiction features various admirers, including Debbie Harry…

She wrote this great song about me, I Want That Man [1989], after she’d seen Paris, Texas. Here she was, one of the most beautiful, famous, talented singers in the world. And I just took it in my stride, I never tried to get in touch with her or anything. So finally she called me months afterw ards and asked me to come over. And we spent an evening together.

You mean socially?

Oh yeah [laughing]. It was very social. Rock’n’roll.

Rob Hughes
Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.