Michael Martin Murphey & Ryan Murphey: Road Beyond The View
By Helen Hutchins
In 1973, famed singer/songwriter Michael Martin Murphey invited his 3-year-old son, Ryan to the stage with him and his friend, Willie Nelson, at the Abbot Reunion in Austin. Three years later when Ryan was 6, he joined his dad for a taping of Austin City Limits.
He was in the studio at Caribou Ranch in Colorado for the landmark recording of Blue Sky Night (which yielded top pop hits “Wildfire” and “Carolina In The Pines”). By the time Ryan was 17, he was performing and the two even shared a radio hit, “Talking To The Wrong Man.” Ryan went on to be his father’s lead guitarist of choice, and even produced the and Michael’ s subsequent albums.
But the newest release, Road Beyond The View, is their ﬁrst truly collaborative record. “For the ﬁrst time in my career, I decided to make an album that is a full collaboration with Music with the release of Cowboy Songs, and another artist – my son Ryan Murphey,” says became the number-one selling artist of Michael. “We wrote, arranged, produced and Cowboy Music since Marty Robbins. He then performed all of the songs together. The result focused on the world of bluegrass, again is something different than either of us have topping the charts and earning a Grammy done before, yet it contains all the things with nomination to boot. Along the way, Michael which we’ve experimented.” played music with symphonies, cutting-edge.
Michael’s first album, Geronimo’s Cadillac was Jazz ensembles, Country, Folk and Bluegrass given a rave review in Rolling Stone for his greats - and even performed in churches like eclectic songwriting style: 50 years later he’s still Holy Angels in Kansas, where he made a live one the most eclectic singer-songwriters out album with an expert pipe-organist.there. Michael Martin Murphey has never lost his Michael’s long-time production and passion for exploring and pushing the songwriting partnership with Ryan has been boundaries. In the 70s, when pioneering the enhanced by Ryan’s position as the head Texas Music Scene centered in Austin with teacher of the Guitar program, AP Literature friends Jerry Jeff Walker, and Composition at the prestigious Nashville Jimmy Buffet, Townes School of the Arts. Together, the father and Van Zandt, Guy Clark son collaboration finds them returning to and Willie Nelson, he New Mexican and Southwestern topped the pop charts dreamscapes they have known and lived, with hits like lyric and vocals set against complex acoustic and electric guitar work. “It’s country, it’s jazz, it’s pop, classical and folk,” Michael says. “It’s a little bit of all of those things. When I was in high school, I was a big jazz fan, but I was also a Bluegrass fan. I was a classical music aﬁcionado, but also a hillbilly and cowboy music fanatic. I drove my parents crazy with folk and ﬂamenco, Charles Ives and Johnny Cash! I still love genre-jumping!”
“I have always been inspired by the pastiche approach that my dad takes to songwriting,” Ryan adds. “I have never seen music come together and are my favorite examples of how our American quilt lives on.”
In a sense, Road Beyond The View represents a full circle turn for the Murpheys. “When he was 6, I taught Ryan to play guitar,” laughs Michael. “I decided it was time for me to start taking more guitar lessons. So I went online with Ryan by way of Zoom and FaceTime and he painstakingly gave me Classical and Jazz guitar lessons.That led to the making of the Road Beyond the View album together.”
The Murpheys, who consider New Mexico a second home, found inspiration in the Abstract Impressionism mixed with Realism, Abstract Impressionism, Imagist and Surrealism from Santa Fe. Taos and Southwestern artists.The cover features a painting from noted Taos artist Ed Sandoval, and the Murpheys were inspired by the work of New Mexico icon Georgia O’Keefe.
The title track, in particular, has many references to O’Keefe’s work. “I’ve had a lifelong obsession with New Mexico’s artists,” says Michael. “My own songwriting style is actually an experimental mixture of Abstract Expressionism, Surrealism and Imagist Poetry.
“Road Beyond The View,” the title track, contains the central idea of the collection, Michael explains. “As human beings we are all on an risky, adventurous journey. No matter how much we plan, we encounter the unexpected along the way. The way we deal with that is the measure of our lives, the thrill of living is being open to what is around the bend that may be surprising – even shocking.
“What is encountered is sometimes inscrutable,” he continues.“Georgia O’Keefe’s arresting images in her paintings present an ineffable beauty beyond all understanding- making her a renegade. Design lives on in the skeleton where life once hung on the bones. The bones themselves have a kind of eternal life. The story told is multi-faceted, many-sided and open to interpretation.”
Finally, says Michael, “I’m going to keep making music and experimenting with sounds and lyrics based on the unexpected; I have no idea where all of this will lead. Every day, I pray ‘God, lead me, but surprise me!’ This Road Beyond the View album is meant to be a theme song for a philosophy of living.”