The Rockin' Guys - O​.​H. Lee

from by Turn Me On, Dead Man Recordings

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“Lee Harvey Was a Friend of Mine” was a novelty country song by Homer Henderson & the Dalworthington Garden Boys released in 1985. In keeping with their practice of brief, often single-word song titles, The Rockin’ Guys, working out of Conway, Arkansas, retitle their garage rock interpretation of this song “O.H. Lee”, which was a pseudonym Oswald used to rent a room in the Dallas boarding house where he was living at the time of the JFK assassination.

“Lee Harvey Was a Friend of Mine/O.H. Lee” is told from the perspective of a boy who lived across the street from Oswald. He denies Oswald’s role in the JFK assassination because he can’t reconcile this crime with his warm memories of Oswald (“He used to take me fishin’ all the time/He used to throw the ball to me when I was just a kid/They say he shot the President, I don’t think he did”). Asserting that the “backyard photos” were faked, the narrator only believes what he sees with his own eyes. In contrast to his doubts about Oswald’s role in the JFK assassination, he knows that Jack Ruby (“the biggest sleaze in town”) killed Oswald because he saw it broadcast live on television.

According to Danny Grace, The Rockin' Guys learned "Lee Harvey Was a Friend of Mine" from T. Tex Edwards. They played several shows with Edwards, who released his version of the song (retitled "Lee Harvey") with the Sickoids in 1990. The Rockin' Guys, however, add a verse about a love triangle involving Oswald, JFK and Marilyn Monroe to "Lee Harvey Was a Friend of Mine" that was not present in either the Homer Henderson or T. Tex Edwards versions. Jay Cotton, a Dallas artist, co-wrote the song with Henderson. The liner notes for One Hell Soundwich, an obscure LP that Cotton co-released with Gary Panter in 1990, are the only source for this verse. Jay Cotton writes, "I said to Phil Bennison one day, 'We should write a song about Lee Harvey,' and he sang back, 'They say he shot the president, I don't think he did.' Gold! And before you could say 'Enchanted Rifle' an Oak Cliff ballad was on the charts with a single bullet and the rest is white-trash music history. And for you conspiracy nuts, here's a verse I wrote that mysteriously disappeared. They say his naggin' Russian wife made him fall for Marilyn Monroe/When Marilyn came to Oak Cliff, to O.H. Lee she'd go/JFK stole her away/Lee Harvey flipped his lid/They say he shot the president, I don't think he did." Only the Rockin' Guys are true to Jay Cotton's original lyrics. All of the other cover versions of "Lee Harvey Was a Friend of Mine" (Laura Cantrell, Boris McCutcheon) follow Homer Henderson's recorded lyrics.

The Rockin' Guys occasionally did themed sets, with political assassinations being one of those themes. The Assassination EP, which was released in 1992, collects several songs about the assassinations of JFK and Martin Luther King. In addition to "Lee Harvey Was a Friend of Mine", the Rockin' Guys included garage rock interpretations of the JFK assassination songs "November 22, 1963" (retitled "November") by Destroy All Monsters and "He Was a Friend of Mine" (retitled "Friend") by the Byrds.



Lee Harvey was a friend of mine

I was born in Dallas in 1952
Lee Harvey moved across the street on Bentley Avenue
He used to throw the ball to me when I was just a kid
They say he shot the president
Well, I don't think he did
He was a friend of mine

He used to take me fishing all the time
He used to throw the ball to me when I was just a kid
They say he shot the president
Well, I don't think he did

I've seen the picture of him with the pamphlets and a gun
Shadows were pointin' every which-a-way
But there's just one sun
Someone faked that photo and snuck away and hid
They say he shot the president
Well, I don't think he did
He was a friend of mine

He used to take me fishing all the time
He used to throw the ball to me when I was just a kid
They say he shot the president
Well, I don't think he did

They say his naggin' Russian wife made him fall for Marilyn Monroe
When Marilyn came to Oak Cliff to O.H. Lee she'd go
JFK stole her away
Lee Harvey flipped his lid
They say he shot the president
Well, I don't think he did
He was a friend of mine

I seen it on the TV when Lee Harvey got gunned down
Murdered by Jack Ruby, the biggest sleaze in town
He stuck that gun into his ribs
And said, "Here's lookin' at you, kid"
Ruby killed Lee Harvey, TV proved he did
He was a friend of mine
A very good friend
All the time
Yes he did
Real good friend
All the time
Ball to me

They say he shot the president
I don't think he did

credits

from Conspiracy A​-​Go​-​Go, released November 1, 2013
written by Philip Edward Bennison (Homer Henderson) and Jay Cotton
originally released on The Assassination E.P. (1992)

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Turn Me On, Dead Man Recordings Washington, D.C.

Turn Me On, Dead Man is an internet radio station on radionomy.com playing garage, punk and psychedelia from the last five decades.

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