He gets a kick out of it, and takes pride in always putting that extra kick into his music. That’s exactly why David Lee Murphy has become one of country music’s leading entertainers, as well as the host of perhaps the most devoted party crowd in all music history.
For David, just enough is never enough. Since the singer/songwriter made his debut in 1995 with such hits as “Dust On The Bottle,” “Just Once” and the phenomenal “Party Crowd,” pushing the envelope with his music has continually allowed him to sign it, seal it and deliver it with an all-out bang!
The bang blasts on as the small-town Illinois native turns out his third MCA album, We Can’t All Be Angels. With even more razor-sharp instrumental licks, hooking lyrics and a cooking vocal performance, the Angels project spits out a bit more fire and brimstone. For this Tennessee farm boy who admits to loving his quiet time at home, the louder response he gets from his fans and audiences, the better he likes it. Undoubtedly, this one’s a screamer.
“Everybody wants their album to be successful from a commercial aspect,” David tells country.com. “I hate to sound like one of those crazy artists, but I’m a crazy artist,” he laughs. “I paint the picture and put it out there and then move on to the next one. This record is a different sound for for Nashville. It’s really wide open and the production is really crisp and rockin’. But it’s undeniably heart-and-soul country.
“We pretty much go for a certain sound on every album,” continues the December CMT Showcase Artist. “On the first album, Out With A Bang, we had a sound in mind. On the second album, Gettin’ Out The Good Stuff, I wanted to have kind of a variation of the first album. On this one, I wanted to create just a whole different tone, sonically. I just wanted a different sounding record. It still sounds like me — there’s no doubt about that. I just wanted songs that have their own sound and identity. When you hear We Can’t All Be Angels, you’ll relate its sound to those songs. So it’s just real uptempo and has got real distinctive two-part harmony kind of like of an Everly Brothers/Beatle-ish quality.
David’s knack for creating such drama and detail in his music is quite similar to that of a painter. With a full-force of heart, soul and a brilliant mental scheme, he thoroughly walks through the entire project, from beginning to end, long before he actually records the album. While the end result is hopefully crossing over a successful commercial threshold, the blueprint phase of the project is where David paints his prettiest.
“You have to hear what you want in your head before you can go in there and just make a record — unless you can just go in there and make it and it sounds like whatever you come up with. But I hear it in my head the way I want. So whenever I go into the studio, the challenge is to translate that onto tape. And I really do spend the most of my time creating something,” he explains. “Unlike a lot of other people, I really do spend that time in the studio. I start with writing the songs. Then I work on the arrangements. Then I go into the studio and make the record. I get with the players and make sure we’ve got all the right parts — the right guitar parts and the right keyboard parts. Then I spend a lot of time mixing the record to where it’s mixed how I think it should be sounding sonically. So I’m in there until it’s done and really having some impact on what’s going on. Fortunately, I work with a producer like Tony Brown, who really lets me have a long rope in the studio. With that association, it’s taught me a whole lot about making records. It’s always exciting and fun for me. There’s just a lot of enjoyment in making those records, and I’m real proud of the fact that they all have a real signature sound.”
David’s signature is one that country fans read over and over again — an unyielding devotion that truly exploded with the release of his rip-roar-and-rowdy “Party Crowd” number. Quite like Garth Brook’s “Friends In Low Places,” Johnny Paycheck’s “Take This Job And Shove It,” Hank Jr.’s “All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down,” or even Loretta Lynn’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough To Take My Man,” David’s “Party Crowd” has become a scorching country anthem.
“That’s one of the best feelings you could ever imagine,” admits David. “It’s just a real satisfying feeling to know that you’ve written a song that that many people can relate to and that many people want to sing with you when you play it out there. For an artist and creative person, that’s what it’s all about to me. Sometimes people lose track of that, but the whole thing is about music and making people feel good. That’s the bottom line.”
David’s “Party Crowd” in the Nashville area is so huge that recently the singer and an area radio station put the song to the test. The event took place just outside Music City where thousands gathered for a heavily-promoted sing-along contest. David also showed up for the party, which raised money for a local charity, to sign copies of his new We Can’t All Be Angels disc and to help select winners from the “Party Crowd” sing-along contest. The winners were flown that very night to David’s Orlando concert, just one of 44 stops during his current Crown Royal Untamed & True concert, which also features Mark Chesnutt and Gary Allan.
Making such songs come to life for the one-time struggling songwriter and demo singer has long been a tremendous thrill for David. Today, however, there’s a bit more frill in the thrill.
“The process is exactly the same, to tell you the truth,” David explains. “The only difference is now instead of putting a song down on a tape that you send to other people for them to cut on their album, it’s for my own. But the process is still the same as when I used to do demos. Instead of a demo tape, it’s actually my record. The big challenge of it is when you can take that music that you hear in your head and put it down on tape.”
Another challenge for the country star, whose career schedule has continued to grow over the years, is making time for family and home. It’s as important to David as writing a great country song and watching it come to life. With a wife and three sons (ages 10, 4 and 11 weeks), life is also about simply getting away from both the big cities and big lights. For David, green acres is the place to be — his secluded farm just outside Nashville.
“I’m an outdoorsy kind of person and an outside-the-city-limits kind of guy anyway” he admits. “That’s just the way I’ve always been. I grew up in a real little bitty town in Southern Illinois — about a three-hour drive north of Nashville. That’s the type place I feel most comfortable. I feel most comfortable in a rural kind of setting. Living the life that I lead, I gotta have a place to go hide out. And that’s my hide-out. That’s where I go to get away. So it’s like pulling teeth to get me to town. I got pigs to feed and stuff like that,” he jokes. “No, I’m just teasing, that pig is brand new.
“My favorite thing to do on the farm is to actually do nothing,” he continues. “I like to just sit out there and not do a thing. But if I do have to work, I like to bush-hog on my tractor because that doesn’t take a lot of physical labor,” he laughs. “I like to do the least laborous things that I can possibly do. It’s just always nice for me to be out of town and out in the country. I guess it’s a mental thing.”
David hopes to get his fill of the “mental thing” this holiday season. Although he’s just kicked off a major tour, released a brand new album, and is watching his latest hit, “Just Don’t Wait Around Til She’s Leavin’,” dart up the charts, some quality home time already seems picture-perfect.
“I guess when I think about Christmas, I always think about being a little kid back in Southern Illinois with all my family — all the aunts, uncles and grandpas,” he ponders. “All those people are just about gone now. So my ideal Christmas would to be able to spend a Christmas with all those people again. But this is going to be a special Christmas for us because we’ve got a new baby. So another ideal Christmas is going to be spending time out at my farm with the family, by the fireplace, with a turkey in the oven and all the Christmas tree lights on.”
Of course, the pig rests quietly on the floor beneath David’s feet near the fireplace.
“That pig probably already realizes that he’s gonna end up over a grill some day,” he chuckles.