"Growin' up's been tough on me/ I don't know what I wanna be/ I hope the good Lord understands/ there's times I need a helping hand/ cause I'll take the long way to find the short way around." - Tryin' To Get There - David Lee Murphy-Waylon Jennings.

When David Lee Murphy last toured Australia with Lee Kernaghan in 2003 he was reeling from the death of his mentor Waylon Jennings.

The gregarious chart topper had written four songs with the legendary outlaw four years before he died at 64 on February 13, 2002.

Jennings was a major influence on Murphy whose rocking country won him a young audience here and in the U.S.

But the songs lay in limbo while Murphy tried to land a new record deal to follow his MCA era.

Murphy finally signed with indie label Koch - his album was belatedly released here by Sydney label Vital after Shock also showed interest.

"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," Murphy told Nu Country TV.

The Jennings-Murphy sessions produced four songs including Tryin' To Get There - the title track of Murphy's new album, his first in seven years.

Murphy produced the disc with his prolific co-writer Kim Tribble and plans a return tour of Australia in 2006.

The Herrin, Illinois, born singer had a long hiatus, cushioned by writing a brace of hits for other artists, after his third album We Can't All Be Angels in 1997.

"Waylon was one of my major inspirations long before I first went to Nashville in 1983," Murphy revealed.

"Working with Waylon is still my career highlight. We got together and wrote four songs together. Tryin' To Get There has a spiritual theme, about trying to get to a higher place in life. I'm honoured I had the opportunity to write with Waylon. He came to the studio. When he walked in his presence lifted the entire session."


The late singer was also at the studio when Murphy recorded another of their songs Things I Need To Do Today.

"After I cut it I came out of the studio and Waylon was on the phone to George Jones telling him to come down to the studio and hear it," Murphy recalled.

"It was just a classic moment hearing that. It's in the can now for a future project."

So what happened to the other two songs?

Waylon Jennings & Jessi Colter

"The other two songs have Waylon's voice so I gave them to Jessi (former singing spouse and widow Jessi Colter)," Murphy said.

"She will decide what to do with them. I can't wait for people to hear them."

Murphy is also a big fan of the couple's son Shooter whose debut solo disc Put The O Back In Country won rave reviews in the U.S. but hasn't been launched here yet.

"I really like Shooter, I loved his video," says Murphy.

"I've known Shooter since he was a young kid."

Ironically Murphy's comeback hit Loco - his first #5 smash for six years and one of seven co-writes with Tribble on his album - has shades of Jennings.

"Loco has got that mentality of Waylon's I've Always Been Crazy, It Stops Me From Going Insane," Murphy confessed.

"It's real up-tempo - a fun party record. Loco means crazy in the south west."


"I never knew my daddy/ But everybody says my brother looks like him/ and my brother he's in prison/ and I doubt he'll be gettin' out again/ but I watch it from the cradle/ though mama tried to hide the truth from me/ she did all that she was able/ and Lord I guess the rest is history." - Mama's Last - David Lee Murphy-Kim Tribble.

Also on the album is Mama's Last that he road tested on his Australian tour with Lee Kernaghan after they wrote Wild Side Of Life for Lee's eighth disc Electric Rodeo.

"Yes, it's also got that good time Waylon, Willie, Merle and Johnny Paycheck feel," Murphy said.

"Like Good Hearted Woman and I'm The Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised."

Murphy, 46 and father of three, is keen to ensure his music has longevity.

"Every time I make a record, I make a record that I hope people are going to be listening to 10 years later," Murphy said.

"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."


"Well, it's either Charlie Rich or Bill Monroe/ but it might be Hank or Elvis, friend I really don't know/ the young news reporter frowned as he turned and walked out/ but all the regulars knew what he was askin' about/ strange things happen here when it's late at night/ when we pull down the shades and we turn out the lights." - Ghost In The Juke Box - David Lee Murphy.

Murphy draws from the rich history of past heroes for Ghost In The Juke Box.

"The idea just popped into my head about guys sitting around after they shut the bar and pulled plug on juke box and it suddenly comes to life," Murphy explained.

"It's no particular bar, just a haunted juke box with songs by old country stars who have gone. I have a sentimental attachment about going back to the past. I tip my hat as they're the ones I've learned from."

Murphy also featured fellow Australian tourist Lee Roy Parnell - one time member of singing Texan crime novelist Kinky Friedman's Texas Jewboys - on slide guitar on Begging For Affection and Inspiration.

"We toured together a couple years ago for the first time with John Berry," Murphy said.
"He's a distant relative of Bob Wills and cousin of Robert Earl Keen."

The disc features two bonus tracks - alternate cuts of Inspiration and Loco.


Murphy, who has a degree in speech communication and journalism, broke in 1994 when his song Just Once graced the movie 8 Seconds, in which Luke Perry played rodeo champion Lane Frost.

Rocking country hits such as Dust On The Bottle, Party Crowd and Out With a Bang won him widespread airplay and fans.

But in his pre-fame days artists diverse as Reba McEntire, Doug Stone and Maines Bros - the Lubbock band featuring Lloyd Maines - were among the first to cut his songs.

Murphy returned home after his first Nashville foray in 1979 and earned a degree in speech therapy.

"Journalism was my minor, I learned to write tight and cram a lot into a small space," Murphy recalled.

"I was writing with Dobie Gray back in the early eighties when we had a song cut by The Maines Bros. Lloyd's daughter is that little girl in the Dixie Chicks. We also wrote 100 Years Too Late which I recorded."

But it wasn't all vino and vittles for the singer who did his time in the beer and wine mines at night while working diverse day jobs.

"I did everything from cutting grass to going out on the road to sell merchandise," he added.

"I lived below the poverty line for a decade. One of my first gigs was opening for Steve Earle at The Bluebird Café."

Murphy's embryonic band Blue Tick Hounds included Warren Haynes who played with Allman Bros and Govt Mule.

The singer blazed a trail by writing all tunes on debut disc Out With A Bang (1994), Getting Out The Good Stuff (1996) and We Can't All Be Angels (1997).

Famed Elvis Presley and Emmylou Harris Hot Band pianist Tony Brown produced all three albums with Murphy assistant producer on the third.

Murphy has also penned a brace of hits for artists diverse as Hank Williams Jr, Trick Pony, James Otto, Aaron Tippin, Montgomery Gentry and the late Chris LeDoux.

Murphy also graced the Black Dog movie soundtrack and a song he penned for Andy Griggs featured in TV show Sabrina The Teenage Witch.

And the singer strengthened his Australian links with songs written with the Adams - Harvey and Brand - Kernaghan, Melinda Schneider and Tamara Stewart.


Renowned for his song Genuine Rednecks, he also connected with fellow Illinois born belle and latter day star Gretchen Wilson.

Murphy utilised the talents of the Redneck Woman in her pre fame era when she sang demo tapes.

"She's an incredible singer," Murphy said.

"She sang demos for me about two years ago. She sang songs I had written for Trick Pony. Heidi (Newfield) had a throat problem and couldn't sing the songs. So we got Gretchen to sing those. One is on their new album."

Murphy has also been busy writing with other peers for a diverse range of projects.

"I have written recently with Casey Beathard, Rivers Rutherford and Ira and Heidi from Trick Pony," Murphy revealed.

"One of our songs just got cut but I can't tell you any more as I don't want to jinx it."


"Well they took me home in the back of a Checker cab/ after somebody took a chair across the back of my head/ my mama said bring him on in." - Why Can't People Just Get Along. - David Lee Murphy-Minnie Pearl.

History is littered with singers who have toiled long and hard to write songs about Hank Williams.

But Murphy landed his chance from a good old girl - late octogenarian comedienne and singer Minnie Pearl.

Pearl, who died at 83 in 1996, had vivid memories of Hank who met his maker at 29 in 1953.

"We were backstage at Opryland at the Ralph Emery Show and Minnie started telling me stories about Hank Williams, Bill Monroe and Roy Acuff," Murphy revealed.

"She told us a story about Hank when he get into a fight one night in Nashville and was hit over the head with a chair and taken home to his mama. The punch line was if I got into trouble there is no-one I'd rather have standing over me than mama with a broken bottle.

Hank says 'mama I hope you're not mad about me coming home like this.' She said 'man we're going to go back and kick that guy's arse.' Minnie was a character, she just loved to tell stuff like that to surprise you, get a rise out of you."

The Murphy-Pearl song Why Can't People Just Get Along was on his debut disc Out With A Bang whose million plus sales were fuelled by hell raising tunes Dust On The Bottle, Party Crowd, Just Once and High Weeds And Rust.


Life imitated art when Murphy indulged in liquid research to write with Adam Harvey and producer Rod McCormack.

The cops were called to the scene of the rhyme - a bar near Murphy's farm outside the historic Civil War township of Franklin in Cheatham County, Tennessee.

They took the keys to the honky tonk hero's Bronco and called his wife to drive him home.

"We research our subjects fairly substantially at times," Murphy revealed of a honky tonk session that produced Acting A Little Crazy for Harvey's fifth album Cowboy Dreams.

"Some folks in the bar recognised me and called the cop who was also a country musician. He was coming down to meet me. But we didn't know that and decided to leave."

Murphy and his Aussie guests were pulling out of the car park when the flash of blue lights and wailing sirens ended their trip.

"They wouldn't let me drive home and called my wife," Murphy confessed.

"It was a pretty interesting night, Rod and Adam were cracking up over it. It was a special moment between Adam and me. It was quite comical. The cops were quoting my songs Party Crowd and Out With A Bang."

Murphy was much luckier than peers Terri Clark, Deana Carter and Mindy McCready who were busted for drunk driving so he agreed to a guest spot with the cop's band.

Murphy plans to return here in 2006 for a national tour and songwriting sojourn.
"I'm really keen to come back," Murphy said.

"I think I'm too late for Gympie this year but I'm ready to return to catch up with all my writing partners and fans. We're talking about a tour in 2006."

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