MARY REICHARD, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: cowboy music!
Michael Martin Murphy helped launch the Americana or Roots music movement with his 1990 album Cowboy Songs. But his influence over the genre began two decades earlier in Austin, Texas. A new exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville celebrates his contributions.
MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: On this week’s Listening In, host Warren Smith talks to Michael Martin Murphy about what influences him. Let’s listen now to an excerpt.
WARREN SMITH: You turn back to cowboy music, at least that was a part of the of the turn, and you said you sought out Roy Rogers. And he offered you some advice. So what was that advice that he gave you?
MICHAEL MARTIN MURPHY: Well, Roy told me two things. He said, first of all, if you want to be a singing cowboy, you have to live by the code that me and Gene and all the other guys live by in public. Even though some of them didn’t live by it in private. And he said at first, neither did I. He said but our public code was never do anything that would send a kid down the wrong trail. And I rolled my eyes and I said, boy, that’s just so corny. Then I went home that night and before I laid down my head on the pillow, I thought, you know what, if I challenged myself to never do anything that would send a kid down the wrong trail? That’s actually the most profound thing anybody’s ever told me. If every single day you got up and said today I’m not going to do anything that would damage a child. And so that was a big influence. The other thing he told me was if you want to be a singing cowboy, get yourself a good looking horse. Because when you get old and ugly, the kids will still like the horse.
So I also had throughout my life, this deep feeling that you need to do, even though it won’t save you, you need to do good things for humanity. You need to try to turn things around for people that come within your sphere of influence. I think again, Albert Sweitzer probably said it best. He said, it isn’t selfish to just keep it within your sphere of influence. You don’t have to save the whole world. You don’t have time. But whatever comes within your sphere of influence, you are responsible for.