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David Lee Murphy is still trying to get there

By Jeffrey B. Remz, May 2004

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"I just wanted to pull over and park for awhile," he says. "I was wondering if what I was doing musically was what they wanted. It might need to come back around to me. I think that's kind of what's happening now. I think what I was doing was falling out of favor. I wasn't going to do something that wasn't me naturally. I just kind of hung out."

But eventually Murphy apparently figured it was time to get back in the race.

"My desire was to be with a smaller indie type label because I felt to have the creative control that I wanted to be able to do what I wanted to artistically, I was going to have to be with one of the indies," he says.

"That seemed to be the wave of the future in Nashville. I had talked with Nick Hunter for several years about doing this and never did. I also wanted a song to go to radio because I felt I had hit songs still, and I felt I could get a song on the radio. They were still playing 'Dust' 500 and 600 times a week. Same with 'Party Crowd.' I was still getting airplay. I wanted to have a single, and I wanted to have it come from a smaller label. The team of people that we have over there is really great. It's exciting and it's fun. Everybody is focused. We're having a ball."

In recording "Tryin' to Get There," Murphy says he wanted to make a record that would stand the test of time.

"Every time I make a record, I make a record that (I hope) people are going to be listening to 10 years later, (that) they are going to say this sounds as good now as it did 10 years ago. I always want to make music that stands the test of the time. I have heroes like Waylon and Willie, and I still listen to those records, and they still sound great to me. Those are the records that I still want to listen to. It's not the sound, the recording. It's the vibe. It's the mood it puts you into. I want to make records that put you into a certain type of mood and make you feel good and make you want to party and forget about the stuff in your life that you might want to forget about temporarily."

Murphy says he used the same approach for his MCA albums. "But fortunately when I made my records at MCA, I had a really long rope to do whatever I wanted to do. I had a lot of liberty, and I always have fortunately, to be able to pick whatever songs I wanted to record and record them how I wanted to record them."

And the Waylon vibe remains quite obvious here thanks to the inclusion of one of the last songs that Waylon wrote, the title track.

Murphy says he met Jennings for the first time at an awards show, maybe the TNN Music City Awards about eight years ago. "I was backstage and was standing there with my wife and Waylon walked up and looked at me and looked at my wife and looked at me and said, 'You definitely got the better end of this deal. We burst up laughing."

The two met again at a Nashville radio station. "I was a huge Waylon fan," Murphy says. "I was asking him about his earlier records and guitar parts and production things. I know all those Waylon records backwards and forwards. I was asking him about different things in the records and songs just from the point of someone who loved his songs because I grew up on them. We hit it off."

"We decided to get write together after a couple of weeks. We wrote together off and on for a couple of years."

The title track was written about five years ago.

"I started writing at my house which is outside of Nashville. I went over and got the idea. He said, "hoss I really like that. We ended up finishing that song at his house."

"We actually wrote four songs together and recorded all four songs...He was going to sing 'Tryin'.' We cut that in his key, but he had sung the other two songs. It was getting late in the day, and Waylon was not really feeling good that day. He took off, and said, 'you might (be) singing that other song.'...I sang the song. I had done a scratch vocal on it...I ended up singing the final vocal on 'Trying''. He was like, 'man, I really like the way you're singing that'."

"The other two sound like vintage Waylon. Something's going to happen with them," says Murphy, indicating that his widow, Jessi Colter, will release the music.

One of the most interesting songs on the new disc story-wise is "Ghost in the Jukebox." A reporter comes to a bar to investigate reports of a mysterious jukebox. "In reality all the regulars are protecting this jukebox," says Murphy. "What they do is sit down and have a cold beer and close the door and play their hillbilly favorites. I just like the whole story. And it feels really good too."

Murphy seems to be also, based on how life has been with the new album and single.

"We're having fun and just excited and happy and loco."

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