Inquiring Minds

Michael Martin Murphey: Cowboys & Bluegrass

When last we left Texas singer-songwriter and rancher Michael Martin Murphey, he was explaining how he went against the country-music grain of the late '80s by recording the improbably successful album of traditional trail songs and ballads, Cowboy Songs. Here he tells us how he continued exploring cowboy music's connection with other kinds of American folk music in the latest extension of his Cowboy Songs project, Buckaroo Blue Grass, which is up to three volumes now.

Rocks Off: On the surface, anyway, it seems like bluegrass and cowboy music would be on the opposite ends of the country-and-western spectrum.

Michael Martin Murphey: You know, you're 100 percent correct on modern music, if you look at what's happening in country music now. But if you go to the 19th century, you'll find that the melodies have a common root. Most of the Westerners were people who moved west, and where did they come from? They came from Appalachia, they came from the South.

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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray