Finger Pickin' Good
June 28, 2011 11:04 PM   Subscribe

Jimmy Murphy was a great country musician who has had less recognition than this MeFi'r feels is justified. Some of his songs are irreverent (but with precedence). Others a bit poignant, if in his signature upbeat kind of way. The man cooks. "When you get salvation you'll know it by it's tone"
posted by Jibuzaemon (7 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
You wanted a hit, but maybe we don't do hits.

Oops. Never mind.
posted by JLovebomb at 12:10 AM on June 29, 2011

("When you get salvation you'll know it by its tone", sorry, sorry, can't stop myself...)
posted by Mooseli at 2:56 AM on June 29, 2011

The rockabilly talent pool was amazingly broad but shallow. Jimmy Murphy is one of dozens of excellent mid-level country guys who went on to play excellent mid-level rockabilly -- in Murphy's case, of the novelty variety. He wasn't one of the sexy guys, either in persona or song (you could have piled a two-foot pompadour on the guy and not erased that friendly grin), nor was he an innovator like Charley Feathers or notable wild man like Sonny Burgess. I wouldn't say Murphy was underappreciated. It's just that the genre artists who are most remembered are those that transcend their genre -- and from Murphy's generation of rockabilly recording artists, that boiled down to Elvis, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee -- and a little later, Buddy Holly. The Beatles began as an excellent rockabilly outfit, but we never would have heard of them if they hadn't poked their nose out of the tent, and explored the larger world of music.
posted by Faze at 4:16 AM on June 29, 2011

These are really interesting—thanks for posting. Both in the solo guitar work and in the lyrics there's an outlook on the blues that's closer to the source than the slightly posed stance of the better-known rockabilly singers. The imagery in the gospel piece is very unusual, and again is getting more from black music than from country gospel.
posted by texorama at 4:39 AM on June 29, 2011

I think you're being a bit hard on Murphy, Faze. Yeah, he worked squarely within his genre, but so did a lot of other musicians (and other kinds of artists) I love. Murphy isn't one of my favorites, but he was very good. If he were a punk band, he'd be The Vandals.

The usual term for a member of MetaFilter is MeFite, not MeFi'r.
posted by Kattullus at 5:42 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I like Jimmy Murphy, I'm really glad you made a post on him. And he's from my hometown! Birmin'ham repreZENT!

On "Big Mama Blues", gotta love when he goes for that falsetto on "blow a fyu-uuuuuuse" (very Hank Williams, who was working that similar vein right at the same time). Also the so-fast-it's-falling-all-over-itself guitar work on that one, too, it's fun stuff.

But, have to say, whereas Tommy Johnson's Big Fat Mama (one of my all-time favorites of Johnson's, and one that I've covered many times with my roots/Americana band here in Tokyo) also celebrates, well, big women, that's pretty much where the similarity begins and ends. Still, heck, any chance to link to such a jewel of the Delta tradition should be taken, so kudos, anyway! By the way, Johnson's lyric from that tune ("meat shakin' on her bone") was grabbed by Bob Dylan and used to very good effect in his tune "Tough Mama" from his album with The Band, Planet Waves.

BTW, Murphy's "blow a fuse" line shows up in this little number, Sweet Sweet Lips, which has really dopey, throwaway lyrics, but the way he pronounces "bay-bay" is kinda priceless. And note: it is exactly the same piece, in the same key and with the same instrumentation as Put Some Meat on Them Bones. Probably from the same session.

One thing I'm not so crazy about with Jimmy Murphy is that so much of his vocal phrasing is sort of awkward. Unlike so many of the black blues musicians he clearly listened to and was inspired by, his lines often come out sort of askew, not sitting in the rhythm and the arrangement in a really natural or soulful way. He needed work on his phrasing, for sure.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:57 AM on June 29, 2011

he needed work on his phrasing, for sure

You're right about that, flap. I say nothing bad about the man for what he was, but he would have been a lame rapper.
posted by Faze at 7:58 AM on June 29, 2011

« Older Written or photographic proof of the existence of...   |   Busted! Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments