John Murry

John Murry

 Emeryville, California, USA

Southern ex-pat songwriter of hallucinatory fever dreams. Noisemaker. ----------------------------------- -----------------------------------


Tupelo, Mississippi native John Murry has been writing songs and making music virtually all his life. It’s just as well; what better way to spend your time in Mississippi, where all the truly great stories come from? His first steps onto the stage were at 18 years old as the singer, songwriter, and guitarist of The Dillingers in Memphis, Tennessee. Pitchfork's Stephen Deusner once wrote that “the Dillingers’ too-short career seemed to make a promise that they would blow our minds someday. Too bad the band didn’t stick around long enough to make good.”
Oh, but making good is so hard! And John Murry has kept on keeping on: Since the breakup of The Dillingers, John has been a sometime addition to the lineup of Memphis rock’n’roll heroes Lucero, and has participated in various other projects. That he was consoled and coddled as a baby for an afternoon by Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez while Marquez visited the hamlet of Oxford, Mississippi may or may not be true – in any case, it’s a good story, and that’s what counts in the South, where real life is doused in myth and, sometimes, vice versa (if this emphasis on mythology sounds overstated, let the skeptical reader be reminded of Quentin Compson, a fictional Southerner in Faulkner’s stories, who was given a commemorative plaque at the site of his fictional death by the Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts).
John has been writing and performing his own material for over a decade now. In fact, The Memphis Flyer's Chris Herrington once called John “the most idiosyncratic and erratic” of the city's singer/songwriters and Chris Davis, of Memphis Magazine, named him the city's best. He was known to almost pathologically form band's to perform his material, quickly refuse to play anything but covers, and then just as quickly disappear from the Memphis scene altogether. John’s qualities as a songwriter run in the family: He is William Faulkner’s second cousin. And, yes, John’s style is reminiscent of Faulkner’s --- but there are other literary inspirations, too: William Styron, Richard Wright, John Kennedy Toole, Philip Roth, Cervantes, Dostoyevsky, Kierkegaard, and Freud, just to name a few.
Evidence of these influences can be heard on 2006’s World Without End, a collection of original murder ballads John recorded with his friend Bob Frank (infamous for his self-titled 1972 Vanguard album) after John had moved to California. The record is dark, multilayered, and existentialist at heart, and thus it showcases both musicians’ heritage. Audiences were stunned, and critics were amazed: Rolling Stone’s David Fricke offers the following comparison: “With his low, hanging-judge drawl, Murry sounds as severe and modern as Leonard Cohen.” Granted, John sounds as severe as any number of tortured singers, but for John, it’s not an act he puts on for the sake of selling a song like so many successful indie musicians working today. It's real.
After an EP, a couple of tours, and another full-length record with Bob Frank (Brinkley, Ark., and Other Assorted Love Songs), John started working on his solo album – a project which seems to have had its own little plan to fuck with John. You see, the Odyssey it took to complete “The Graceless Age” makes Ulysses look like a princess in a sparkly gown. After a separation from his wife, John decided to ease the pain, at first with various pharmaceuticals and, later on, with heroin. John and his wife got back together, but heroin wouldn’t say goodbye, and John kept heeding His siren call and found sanctuary in the black pellets, the romanticized secrecy, and the religious beauty of it all.
Enough already, you say? – “No! More!” the record screamed, because that was when the shit really hit the fan and John and his wife’s house burned down on Thanksgiving morning, 2007. Utter defeat, unhappiness, more secrets, more heroin for John, some near-death experiences, more breakups, more reconciliations, even more breakups, and more conciliations ensued. John’s Odyssey even included a solitary retreat to Mexico and a temporary move back to his hometown of Tupelo, Mississippi, where he finally got clean. Southern roots are manifest in John’s songs, but they are neither uncritically loved nor bluntly scorned. Instead, John’s attitude is similar to (Faulkner’s character) Quentin’s compulsion to love the South: “I don't hate it he thought, […] I don't. I don't! I don't hate it! I don't hate it!” As ambivalent as his attitude toward it may be philosophically, the Southern heritage is the spirit that gave John Murry rise and, on a purely emotional level, he backs it wholeheartedly.
The solo album grew with every agonizing twist and gruesome turn in John’s life. Basic tracks were recorded over a period of two years in San Francisco, California at Tim Mooney’s Closer Recordings, with Mooney (of American Music Club fame) producing and a slew of familiar faces providing instrumentation for the songs: Michael Mullen on piano, Andrew Gerhan


As a member of Lucero:
-That Much Further West
With Bob Frank:
-World Without End
-Brinkley, Ark. & Other Assorted Love Songs
-The Graceless Age

Set List

8-10 Song. 45 minutes. 1 cover of Bobby Whitlock's "Thorntree In The Garden".