Tennessee band honors late Norwood man with touching song

Janice Harvey (Source: WAFB)
Janice Harvey (Source: WAFB)
Pirate play set in Nathan Harvey's backyard (Source: WAFB)
Pirate play set in Nathan Harvey's backyard (Source: WAFB)
The Hinckley Brothers perform in Nathan Harvey's backyard (Source: WAFB)
The Hinckley Brothers perform in Nathan Harvey's backyard (Source: WAFB)

NORWOOD, LA (WAFB) - There's something very special about the backyard of Nathan Harvey, tucked away in the tiny town of Norwood, Louisiana. Its magical, really.

"I think it's fabulous and maybe a little crazy," said Janice Harvey. "Who has a pirate ship in the backyard?"

And the pirate ship is only half of the story as the backyard is the kind of thing legends, or even songs, are written about - literally.

Nathan Harvey couldn't have been more proud of his wife and family. The couple had just welcomed their second child, Emmaline, into the world and they decided to take newborn pictures with the baby. Nathan, on his way to help out at his mother's nearby house, was a last minute addition to the photo shoot. On his way out of the door, Nathan stopped to pose for several artistic shots taken by the couple's cousin, a professional photographer.

"He took newborn pictures with our eight day old baby, he hugged me, and we said, 'I love you,'" Janice remembers. "We didn't do that every time he left. He was just going to his mom's. We didn't do that every time he left, but we did. It was his birthday, so we're going to have cake and ice cream when he came home. He drove away and never came back."

Captured in the black and white photo, Nathan clutching and kissing his new baby, he died of a sudden heart attack three hours after the photo was taken on his 40th birthday. Through tears, his wife recounts the day and the sudden loss. "When I look at those pictures, I see this man who was so alive and so in love with this baby and it's just seems cruel," she said.

"Do you know on that day that he died, our life became a cliché? And then you realize this is real. It is 'one moment at a time,' it is 'you don't know what you have until it's gone,' it is 'say I love you because it could be the last time you get to say it,'" said Janice.

Had it not been for a supportive family and the imagination of a 4-year-old, the story might have ended there. Nathan's daughter, Elizabeth, came up with a somewhat unusual request from a little girl. Shortly after his death, Janice wanted to do something special for their 4-year-old.

"When we first talked about the special gift her dad was getting her, he was just getting her a play set and then she's running around saying, 'I want a pirate ship, I want a pirate ship!' I said OK do you know what? I'm going to figure out a way for her daddy to give her a pirate ship," she said.

The distraught mom googled "pirate ship play set" and the magic started. Janice found a man in Tennessee that builds pirate ship play sets. Derek Hinckley mad the trip to Louisiana and learned of the tragedy that made his services necessary. Hinckley is also the lead singer for a band called the Hinckley Brothers and then collaborated to come up with a song aptly named The Backyard of Nathan Harvey. The song describes a man who works hard for his family and is taken away from them too soon.

Janice remembers the day she got the surprise song sent to her. "I'm listening and I realize this is a song about Nathan. This is about our story, this is a song about my children. I never had a clue," she said.

A few weeks ago, the Hinckley Brothers Band made the trip to Louisiana and put on a concert in the backyard of Nathan Harvey. The band also shot a video to go along with the song featuring the Harvey family.

"It's a ship, it's in our backyard, it's in Nathan's backyard. It's a special place you know, it's where he played with Elizabeth. It's where he planned to do so many things," Janice said. "If I want my kids to know their dad, this is where they need to be and that's why the title of the song, The Backyard of Nathan Harvey. It's a special place, and I'm inspired to make it more special because it's where he was and it's where he is."

To download the song on iTunes, click here. To watch the music video on YouTube, click here.

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