When David Lee Murphy describes his new album, he repeatedly returns to the same words: fun, rockin', rowdy, good-times. "For me, that's what music is all about," the veteran country-rocker says. "Whether I'm writing, recording, performing or listening to music, the whole experience for me is about enjoying yourself, getting away from the real world and having a good time."
His commitment to a good time is obvious throughout the new CD, Tryin' To Get There, the acclaimed rabble-rouser's first album since signing with Audium Records. On it, he takes up where he left off with such earlier hits as the rowdy anthem "Party Crowd," the stirring "Dust on the Bottle", the hooky "Every Time I Get Around You", and the soulful "Road You Leave Behind".
If anything, Murphy has raised the stakes: His raucous songs rock with more swagger, and his neon-lit honky tonk tunes show more wisdom and soul. "I’ve always been about edgy, blue-collar, working-class country that’s done with heart and soul," Murphy explains. "It’s rockin’, it’s fun and it’s real. It’s about what people do in their lives, especially when they’re in the mood to live it up a bit."
As usual, the tall dark-haired, blue-eyed singer sets his own musical direction. His independent, in your face, no holds barred attitude is right where the current country music pendelum is returning. Murphy says, "There’s a whole world of people out there who’ve always loved the rowdier side of country music. They’ll respond to your music if it’s hard-hitting and honest."
His new album certainly speaks to those kinds of fans. "I might be a little loco, baby, but a little bit crazy’s all right," he sings with a wink and a grin in "Loco." That same spirit runs through such red-dirt stompers as "I Like It Already," "Same Ol’ Same Ol’," "She Always Said" and "Mama’s Last" - all of which are about colorful characters who indeed are a little loco.
"There’s no denying that this is a rockin’ party record," Murphy says with no apologies. "They’re just wide open songs for all those beer-drinkin’, hell-raisin’ kind of country fans. I make music for all those folks inside and outside the city limits who like to let their hair down on the weekend." I want folks to come to a show and have a good time. For me, it's not a great show unless people loosen up and get a little crazy."
That sentiment, of being a little crazy to keep from going insane, is something Murphy shared with Waylon Jennings, one of the singer’s heroes, mentors and friends. Murphy and Jennings co-wrote the title cut, "Tryin’ To Get There," which shows off the singer’s soulful side. "I’ve learned along the way that we’re all looking for the same thing," Murphy sings, "And I’m trying to get there the best I can."
He’s understandably proud to feature one of their collaborations on his first album since Jennings’ untimely death. "I have a lot of respect for guys like Waylon, Johnny Cash and Johnny Paycheck - so many of those guys that we’ve lost in recent years," Murphy says. "Waylon had a huge impact on me, and being able to write songs with one of my heroes and to get to know him was a real big deal. That song is real special to me."
Another theme running through the album is the presence of women who stand up for themselves - women who go for what they want and don't take any gruff. "I like strong women," Murphy explains. "I just like women, period. I like smart women. I like women who are independent. I always have. A lot of the female characters in my songs are a little bit sassy and I like that. A lot of the women in my life are that way too."
He also got the chance to make a record with a lot of ol’ musician friends backing him in the studio. "I love these guys because they’re not afraid to lean on it and hit it hard," Murphy says. "I like for the players in the studio to play like they’re a little bit pissed off. Sometimes in Nashville the sessions don’t sound very aggressive. But the players I had all know me and my music and they weren’t shy about letting it fly. That’s why the record sounds so rockin’."
Similarly, Murphy’s lets his personality show in his vocals. "I just sing it the way I feel it," he notes. "I don’t worry so much about whether the pitch is perfect. It’s just gotta feel good. It also makes a difference if you write what you sing, because the language is your own. You write in your own meter and in the rhythm that works naturally for you, and I think that makes the song work better." Murphy wrote or co-wrote all twelve songs on the record.
Meanwhile, Murphy has stayed successful as a songwriter in recent years. Hank Williams Jr., Brooks & Dunn, Chris LeDoux, Montgomery Gentry, Trick Pony, Aaron Tippin and a host of others have recorded his songs. "I knew I was gonna make another record someday, so I’ve been holding back songs that I felt would work best for me and that would stand the test of time," Murphy says. "I’ve taken the time to write and record the record I wanted to make. And now I’m chompin’ at the bit to get back out there and play these songs live."
The timing certainly is right, and fans no doubt will raise a glass and toast his return. "I wanted this to be a record that, when people hear it, they wanna turn it up loud," he says. "I want them to try and blow the speakers out of their cars. I want them to put this record on when they’re in the mood to party. That’s when I know I’ve succeeded.
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