More than 20 years ago, David Lee Murphy climbed the Billboard country charts with “Just Once” and soon found himself saddling up for fame with a series of plucky albums, such as Gettin’ Out the Good Stuff and We Can’t All Be Angels.
His Billboard country chart-topper “Dust on the Bottle,” may remain his personal favorite, but when all is said and done, Murphy says he just feels blessed to do what he loves.
The performer and other acclaimed Nashville songwriters join forces for The Songwriters, an auxiliary event during The Warburton Celebrity Golf Tournament, March 9 at JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa in Palm Desert. Expect the popular crooners (Murphy, Tim Nichols, Kelley Lovelace, and Deric Ruttan) to perform and share the stories behind some of their biggest hits. The tournament weekend, March 9–12, has raised millions of dollars locally to benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and it includes a number of different festivities for players and guests. The golf happens March 11-12.
Between songwriting and farming at his Tennessee enclave, Murphy, who spent time in and around Joshua Tree years ago shooting an album cover, talks up country music and more with Palm Springs Life.
PSL: Why was it important to you to be a part of this special night?
DLM: I’ve been hearing about this event for a couple of years. Gosh, St. Jude does such a great job for kids. Anytime you get to do anything — even in a small way — to help kids, it’s good.
PSL: When did you realize country music was your thing?
DLM: Somewhere between Elvis and The Beatles. I was a little, bitty kid when The Beatles, Elvis, and The Monkees came out. It was new and exciting and, really, all I wanted to do was listen to my records and play guitar. Do you remember the Bonnie and Clyde movie? “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” [by Flatt & Scruggs] was in that and I loved it. I remember buying Meet The Beatles! and Flatt & Scruggs Greatest Hits on the very same day.
David Lee Murphy: “I love to write songs. I write every day. Nashville is a really creative community.”
PSL: There’s a milestone right there. So tell me: what inspires you most about creating music?
DLM: I love to write songs. I write every day. Nashville is a really creative community. There’s a pocket of songwriters and we drink a ton of coffee; we BS for about an hour and then we start playing guitar and we come up with something. It’s really fun. My friends talk about that — how we get to write songs, hang out with our friends everyday, and come up with material that, hopefully, somebody can make a hit out of.
PSL: What are the key ingredients to a great country song?
DLM: Well, audiences’ tastes are cyclical. We were in a cycle of partyin’ in the back roads, drinking, and carrying on. Years ago, it was cheatin’ and divorce — everyday heartbreak things. But really, it’s about all kinds of things that happen in life.
PSL: Why do you think the masses love country music now, more than ever before?
DLM: Access. There’s many different ways to get music now. Years ago, there was a country station in a small town, but honestly, if it’s melodic and has a story to it, people can relate to it. There’s no formula to it, though. No song is the same.
PSL: Was your family big on music?
DLM: Yeah. Growing up in Middle America [Herrin, Illinois] before moving to Nashville when I was about 20, my mom played piano in the church. My dad sang at church. Like a lot of country artists, I got a lot of my influence early from church music until I was old enough to go start singing in bars.
PSL: And which one of your songs best epitomizes you? A song where you go, “Yeah, that’s me.”
DLM: Probably “Dust on the Bottle.” I wrote that while recording my first album and it was about things I did at the time. I still do some of those things, but…
PSL: Country music, in its own way, delivers its own kind of wisdom. So, what’s some of the best advice you’ve been given about life?
DLM: Never give up on what you believe in.
The Songwriters at The Warburton Celebrity Golf Tournament begins at 5:30 p.m., March 9, at JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa, 74855 Country Club Drive, Palm Desert. For more information, visit www.patrickwarburtongolf.com/songwriters-night.