He Said was lucky to have spent twenty-five years on Earth with his Grandpa Hlavaty, who passed away in the summer of 2008 of a brain hemorrhage. The man was arguably one of the biggest musical influences in He Said's life. The intrepid and stealthy Grandpa Gonzalez is kicking the around the country somewhere on a sweet motorcycle or driving through the Midwest in his gigantic RV and his chihuahua with Grandma Ana watching a movie in the back.
Seeing that He Said is one-half Hispanic and Czech, he got a crazy mish-mash of accordions and classic country growing up visiting houses in Corpus Christi and the Hlavaty place in Pearland. Meaning that growing up, Hank Williams Sr. and Dwight Yoakam got plenty of spins next to the Nirvana and Devo at home with the parents. It explains way too much and not nearly enough.
George Strait, "The Best Day"
When Grandpa Hlavaty died, He Said was put in charge of the funeral preparations along with all the other children, being the oldest grandkid. This meant picking out a casket, the clothes, and the funeral presentation which includes a slideshow with music on it. He Said used Johnny Cash's "We'll Meet Again," Bob Wills' "Right Or Wrong" and this George Strait song for the soundtrack to pictures of Ben Hlavaty as a sailor, a husband, a father, a grandfather and even a great-grandfather.
To this day, whenever He Said visits the gravesite, we make sure this Strait song is playing as we drive into the cemetery and when we leave.
Charlie Rich, "Behind Closed Doors"
In 2003, Grandma and Grandpa Hlavaty celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a big party out in Alvin at a banquet hall, and as the oldest grandson He Said was given the job of DJ for the evening. The task of sifting through the tunes that the guests of honor wanted to hear was not an easy one, as there were lists and lists to cull through.
Grandpa Hlavaty picked this one out for the slow dance with Grandma, nearly bowling over the crowd with its coy sexuality. Charlie Rich was a smooth dude, and this is one of his most suggestive songs, but He Said will forever have the image of those two loving people dancing to that song by themselves engrained in his memory.
John Anderson, "Seminole Wind"
When we were 11, Grandpa Hlavaty took us on a short day trip to our family's hometown of El Campo to fix some pipes at one of his rent houses. We remember waking up super early at the grandparents' house and driving in the dark down Highway 59, listening to prime early-'90s radio country. Garth Brooks, Strait, Brooks & Dunn and this John Anderson ode to conservation filled our ears all morning long, as the morning jocks filled us in on the John Wayne Bobbitt case.
Ernest Tubb, "Two Glasses Joe"
In the same time span we lost Grandpa Hlavaty we went through a rough break-up with a girl out in Pearland, and so a lot of the music we were sifting through of his bled into this new cataclysm, especially that of Tubb. In fact, somewhere in the Hlavaty house there is a pair of boots that Ernest Tubb autographed for our grandfather out a beer hall around Houston.
It was funny how the tunes he listened to while playing online card games or talking to chicks around the world ended up fueling drunken nights around town chain-smoking and worrying about just one girl. Above all the guy taught He Said that it's not always chivalrous to get stepped on, which will be stuck like a faded KLOL sticker on our brain for life.
Freddy Fender, "Before The Next Teardrop Falls"
Whenever we visited Corpus Christi to see Grandpa Gonzalez, we always drove around town with him looking at the sites. Everytime we passed a certain house on Ocean Drive, he always pointed out where Freddy Fender lived. It was a huge house right on what is Corpus' version of the Seawall in Galveston, and was purported to have an underground James Bond-style boat dock that went out into the bay.
When we were five years old that sounded really cool as did this song, and it sort of made us imagine Fender as one part suave Hispanic rock star and also intercoastal man of mystery, fighting crime and bedding chicks in that big house of his.