Those lean years gave Murphy "the opportunity to learn to make records" so that when he finally did get a record deal with MCA he had a lot of creative control. Many new singers don't have a well-defined artistic identity, and as a result they get bossed around by their producers and label executives, at least for their first few albums. Right from the start, however, "Tony Brown had the confidence to give me a real long rope," Murphy says. "It's a luxury when he says bring me 10 songs," instead of specifying which songs to cut.
Thus, when you listen to a David Lee Murphy album, what you hear is the real deal. He's not some record-company's creation, or an attempt to mimic Garth Brooks or Tim McGraw. He's just performing his own brand of country music, the way he always has.
He's been touring with the Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year Brooks & Dunn since January and says they've been "good people to work with." In fact, as he talks on the phone from a venue in Florida, Kix Brooks has just been in, "goofin' around," even though in just a few hours 12,000 fans will be in the audience for the night's show. Quite a change for a guy who was playing bars and couldn't get his songs cut just a few years ago.
He's taking full advantage of being on such a high-profile tour, though. "Our show is wide-open from start to finish." Except for "100 Years Too Late" and his most recent number-one hit "The Road You Leave Behind," he performs his 40-minute set with "the pedal to the metal."
Like Brooks & Dunn, Murphy is an avid racing fan. Although he doesn't drive his own car, like Brooks & Dunn, he loves to watch NASCAR and even sponsored a car last year. "We started out at Daytona sponsorin' Joe Rutman. We actually went out with a bang," he says with a laugh. Since his car failed to qualify, Rutman suggested that they talk to Jeff Purvis, who needed a sponsor.
"We worked out a deal and sponsored Jeff and stuck with it for the whole year," Murphy says. "We had a good time and are looking forward to doing it again. It's just a big hobby."
Murphy is also looking forward to writing after coming off the road in November. He's "got a bunch of material ready to go for the new album," but he'd like to have a few more songs to choose from. He doesn't offer many hints about what will be on the new album, to be released in late 1997, except to say that it won't be a serious departure from what he's done in the past.
Thus, Murphy's been giving his fans what they want for the past two years now, and he shows no sign of changing. "I'm just an artist," he says. "I just write songs and sing them. It's not an act." No, Murphy is definitely not an act. He's genuine, genuine redneck!"