Lee Harvey Oswald Was a Friend of Homer Henderson
By Kevin Curtin, Fri., Nov. 22, 2013
Homer Henderson's assassin ode "Lee Harvey Was a Friend of Mine" stands alone in Lone Star lore. The sympathetic tune recounts a childhood friendship with the alleged JFK gunman: "Lee Harvey was a friend of mine. 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, but I don't think he did."
The track first appeared on a 1985 vinyl 7-inch by Homer Henderson & the Dalworthington Garden Boys. The bandleader, then based in Dallas, co-wrote the tune with friend Jay Cotton.
"I think we wrote most of it while we were driving around drinking Slurpees and smoking weed," chuckles Henderson. "We'd pass by Oswald's house, the Texas Theatre, and Marsalis Avenue in Oak Cliff, where Jack Ruby had lived. Thirty years ago people didn't give a damn about it, but we knew all those places."
Though he considers the song something of a cheap shot, it's stood the test of time, having been covered by T. Tex Edwards, the Asylum Street Spankers, Laura Cantrell, and even Oswald's old girlfriend, Judyth Vary Baker, author of the recent book Me & Lee: How I Came to Know, Love, and Lose Lee Harvey Oswald. Baker's atonal version alters the lyrics to support her claim that Oswald was a secret agent trying to prevent JFK's assassination.
Henderson, 62, now mostly a one-man-band in Austin, returns to Dallas on Saturday to celebrate the release of Norton Record's Tragic Songs From the Grassy Knoll, on which his anthem appears. He'll be at Top Ten Records, where Dallas policeman J.D. Tippit used the phone just minutes before he was gunned down by Oswald. In the evening, Henderson and Cramps drummer Miriam Linna lead an afterparty at a popular South Dallas bar called ... Lee Harvey's.