REVIEW: Michael Martin Murphey’s “Austinology: Alleys of Austin” is Bare-Bones Country Western Dose of History


Austinology, is a collection of Michael Martin Murphey’s songwriting perspective on the early ’70s Austin music scene.  The album features songs with Willie Nelson, Steve Earle, Amy Grant, Lyle Lovett, Randy Rogers, Kelly Willis, Bruce Robison, Gary P. Nunn, and the Last Bandoleros; Jerry Jeff Walker, DJango Walker, Bob Livingston, and more.

Inspired by the recent project “Outlaws and Armadillos” at in Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame — Murphey was interviewed for its accompanying film — Murphey decided to honor Austin music history in his own way too. Back in the 70’s, music in Austin was stripped down, bare bones country western music, usually on an acoustic instrument or two. There were a few clubs, and things were also really starting to pick up around the  early ’70s.

Murphey and co-producer Chris Harris chose songs for this album, Murphey’s songs, that were from the era of 1968-1975, a time when a lot of musicians moved to to Nashville community, among them Willie Nelson, and things were beginning to thrive and grow. It’s mainly his own songs, with a couple by Jerry Jeff Walker, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson too.

The songs are produced with a hushed style on clear toned acoustic guitars and vocals, with piano prominently present. The album maintains an overall air of nostalgic consistency.  Murphey’s “Wildfire,” the ubiquitous country-western standard, lays the foundation for the style of the rest of the collection.  “Alleys of Austin,”  South Canadian River Song,”  “Geronimo’s Cadillac,”  and we’re off down memory lane, not only with Murphey’s catalog, but in the early Austin style too — soft rock, piano, acoustic guitar numbers telling detailed  lyrical stories.  “Texas Trilogy” — “Daybreak,”  “Train Ride,” and “Bosque County” again evoke a moodiness and exemplary songwriting.

The collection highlights the now renowned Texas songwriting style, and the nostaliga for its good songwriting that plays in our collective unconsciousnesses.

We’re already looking forward to volume 2! Find his album, here:

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