AS soon as Henry Garza was old enough to perch an acoustic guitar on his leg, he was strumming and singing songs of old Mexico and new Texas. His father was Enrique Garza, who for years played roadhouses, fairgrounds and theaters in a conjunto band called the Falcones. All three of his sons joined him on stage, and Henry might have been the best songwriter in the family. On a dusty Austin afternoon a few years ago, he and his father were sitting in a van they used for touring; the elder Garza began to feel his way around the chords and concept of a new song. He called it "Nashville," but young Henry had a different notion and persuaded his father to change the compass point.
"It was a song about going somewhere and making a new life, a better life, but for me, that place wasn't Nashville," said Henry, who now plays with his two brothers in Los Lonely Boys. "Nashville was for my father and his time; for me, I wanted to go to Hollywood. Where they made movies and music and you could be a star."
They were in an RV park on the outskirts of town and, looking out the van's windows, the younger Garza stared at the roadside neon and quickly found the words to a simple tune about a familiar quest:
I'm calling up my Cheri
Tell her that I'm gonna leave
Cause I'm movin' on to Hollywood you see
It's always been a lifelong dream
For my family to see me
On that silver screen
And I know I can't go wrong
Cause I finally found my song
The song was on Los Lonely Boys' eponymous breakthrough album, and of all the tracks on it, "Hollywood" is the one that is the least polished in production and closest to the campfire acoustics of the Garza family tradition.
Many of the entries in the songbook of Hollywood dreams have a dark edge -- they speak of exploitation or compromise or simple failure. Not this one. Los Lonely Boys have found commercial success, and while critics shrug their music off as too confectionary, Henry Garza said it was the years of working the road and the familiar chords of a childhood dream that made his "Hollywood" so sunny. "Hey, it's the place to be. I was right. We've been blessed."
-- Geoff Boucher