The Legacy and Legend of J.C. Harwell
Courtesy of Gypsy Falcon Biographer and J.C. Harwell Historian, S.D. Henderson.
In every civilized culture, there exists an archetype; the warrior poet philosopher king… In Texas, there is J.C. Harwell. Is he real? If he’s real, why haven’t I heard of him? If he’s a legend, why haven’t I been told? Has anyone seen him…
Texas has never been short of folk heroes, never lacked for epic figures to eclipse those of us shackled to this plane. In the cynical world of music journalism, critics scoff at the possibility that the most legendary figure in music since Hank Williams could have existed and wrote some of the most transcendent works not only in music, but in all of western thought. Perhaps it’s simply a defense mechanism. Unwilling to be viewed as ignorant of what ought to be obvious, they pretend that he never existed.
J.C. Harwell was indeed born in Texas. Naturally reclusive and pugnacious, somewhat given to alternating descents into substance abuse and the criminal justice system, he’s an inaccessible legend. His predisposition for solitude, and protracted legal battles with former managers and business partners keep him on the fringes of society, and beyond the miopic view of the industrial music machines of Nashville and New York. In the soul dead pulp mills of pop country, Harwell is known only in fragments and wisps of chance revealations. He is the secret genius so enigmatic that few even remember his name.
There are legends in Texas Music; indisputable influences on the very fabric of the American experience. Bob Wills, Guy Clark, Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Stevie Ray Vaughn each hold revered positions hard earned in the pantheon of greatness. Somehow the Harwellian thread that weaves everything together has been lost in the process and through the unyielding march of time.
Yes, it’s true that you can’t purchase any of the Gypsy Falcon’s work on iTunes. It’s also true that no existing master recordings from the Gypsy Falcon discography have been unearthed in recent memory. No, nothing will spring to mind when you try to hum one of his haunting melodies. But when you hear a lyric that pierces your soul from any one of the newer artists on the landscape today, it is likely that J.C. Harwell once wrote something almost like that but more transcendant and ethereal.
Unlike the epic heroes of ancient Greece, the very real possibility exists that someday you may experience the opportunity to see the J.C. Harwell and the Gypsy Falcons at a venue near you. And should you be one of those fortunate enough to see the day, do not miss a chance to be one of the first to buy a copy of their long awaited masterpiece, due in stores this fall after a thirteen year silence. A highly placed source with close ties to the Gypsy Falcon inner circle has confirmed that J.C. Harwell is finalizing the sound engineering and cover artwork for the release of El Fenix Rising.
So, if you’ve never heard, and can’t believe… just because you’re not on the tip of the spear , less educated and sophisticated regarding independent music legends and folklore than your friends, doesn’t mean you can’t pretend you’ve listened for ages.