Hardly a week goes by without a new biography or tell-all book coming out of Nashville.
In Canada, we are lucky if we see one per decade by a Canadian country music personality, and that's what helps make this R. Harlan Smith story such a welcome addition to our bookshelves. Hitch Your Wagon To A Star is the kind of read that once you flip open the cover, you are hooked, and the book stays in your hands until you reach the final page.
Smith has pretty much done-it-all, seen it all, and heard it all...and now he tells it all, with a genuinely mesmerizing account of his life from boyhood years on the family's Saskatchewan farm, to the hierarchy in Canadian country music scene with many interesting stops in between.
We also learn that Smith was much more than a country singer, songwriter and producer. His behind-the-scenes acumen as a businessman has been extraordinary, not the least of which was the creation of the Edmonton-based Royalty Records empire that includes a record label that has been home to almost every country artist from Western Canada...and beyond.
During his many years of involvement in the Canadian music business, R. Harlan was never viewed as a back-bencher...he was a leader, offering his progressive ideas, and just as quick to chastise the industry when it needed the voice of an ombudsman. The book goes into detail on such matters, some of which get revealed publicly for the first time.
Hitch Your Wagon To A Star (a term applied to R. Harlan Smith by his father) is more than a book about Smith's exploits in music. The pioneering country music maverick also relates touching stories about his childhood years (even confessing to being a diehard Toronto Maple Leafs fan); his ups-and-downs in finding employment, rubbing elbows with Canadian politicians and celebrities, and thoughts about environmental, political, and cultural issues at home and abroad.
For music fans (and for historical purposes), the book takes on an even greater import with the inclusion of a myriad of photos, and listings of Smith's career accomplishments. His music industry credentials as an executive and the numerous awards he has earned are quite stunning, and equally impressive is the list of his recordings: more than 60 single releases, 14 winning national chart numbers, and 15 albums. R. Harlan's production credits are numerous, too–including Joyce Smith, Chris Nielsen, Gary Fjellgaard, and Laura Vinson. It doesn't stop there. As a songwriter, he has penned hits for himself and many others, including Jimmy Arthur Ordge, Glory-Anne Carriere, Chris Nielsen, and Greg Paul.
Books authored by Canadian country music personalities are few and far between. R. Harlan Smith helps fill the void with his memoir, Hitch Your Wagon To A Star.