Murrah Is A Stellar Songwriter And Savvy Businessman
2006 CMA Close Up News Service / Country Music Association, Inc.
songwriter Roger Murrah has had a momentous year. He was
inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, he scored
yet another Top 10 hit and he celebrated 15 years as the
President of Murrah Music Corporation, one of Nashville's most
successful independent song publishers.
has written or co-written hits that boosted the careers of
dozens of acts including "A Bridge That Just Won't
Burn" (Conway Twitty); "Don't Rock The Jukebox"
(Alan Jackson); "We're In This Love Together" (Al
Jarreau); "Rough And Rowdy Days" (Waylon Jennings);
"Stranger Things Have Happened" (Ronnie Milsap);
"This Crazy Love" (The Oak Ridge Boys); "Southern
Rains" (Mel Tillis); "Where Corn Don't Grow"
(Travis Tritt); "It's A Little Too Late" (Tanya
Tucker); "Life's Highway" (Steve Wariner); and
"Only Love" (Wynonna). Murrah's songwriting credits
also include three No. 1 hits for Alabama: "High
Cotton," "Southern Star" and "I'm In A Hurry
(And Don't Know Why)."
is still an active composer, but he spends much of his time
overseeing his company's business operations and editing the
work of songwriters who are signed to Murrah Music.
songwriters are highly creative, strictly right-brain
people," Murrah said. "I'm one of those rare, weird
birds who enjoys the business side as much as the songwriting
side. I've learned that you can be creative in business, too.
People who aren't creative usually do what's expected in
business, but when you're creative, you'll try some things that
haven't been done before. That's very exciting to me."
a successful six-year stint at Tom Collins Music, Murrah formed
his own namesake corporation in 1990. He works hard to ensure
that Murrah Music runs efficiently.
you operate as an independent, then by necessity, you have to
make good business decisions because you don't have the deep
pockets of the big corporations," he said. "So you
have to figure out how to turn the investment around quicker.
We're always looking for ways to increase the cash flow. We're
seeing new revenue streams in publishing with ringtones and
we've discovered unbelievable amounts of money in karaoke."
addition to Murrah and his brother Michael, the other
songwriters currently signed to Murrah Music include Luke Bryan,
Michael Carter, Neal Coty, John Edwards, Adam Holland, Mike
Mobley, Megan Sheehan and Rachel Thibodeau. Mobley and former
Murrah Music songwriter Philip White composed Neal McCoy's
recent hit "Billy's Got His Beer Goggles On."
biggest selling point as a publisher is the nurturing
environment that we have here," Murrah explained.
"It's very supportive. It's an ideal place for a writer,
especially a beginning writer, but also for an established
hit songs that have come from the pens of Murrah Music
songwriters include Kenny Chesney's "When I Close My
Eyes," Martina McBride's "Where Would You Be,"
Reba McEntire's "I'm A Survivor" and Rascal Flatts'
"I'm Movin' On."
is keenly aware of what it takes to make it as a songwriter and
he has firsthand experience with the hardships that many young
I first got to town in 1972, I made ends meet any way I
could," he recalled. "I was on a $50 per week draw
from Bobby Bare's company, Return Music. If I got behind, I'd
borrow a little more money from Bobby. But I never did think
that I wouldn't be successful. I always thought it would just be
a matter of time. So I lived on the dream for the first few
years and then things started clicking. I can remember the first
time I got a song recorded, the first time I got a B-side and
the first time I had a single on the A-side. It's funny how you
can just live on those little moments along the way. They get
you through. It's amazing how many months you can run on the
least amount of success."
his formative years, Murrah admired the work of legendary
songwriters Dallas Frazier, Mickey Newbury, Curly Putman, Billy
Joe Shaver and Joe South. Now he has joined their ranks as a
member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
a great honor," Murrah said. "What's most sobering to
me are the peers in that group. Mickey Newbury is incredible.
Dallas Frazier is as great a Country songwriter as there ever
was. Billy Joe Shaver was signed to Return Music at the same
time I was. I remember he once told me, 'Roger, if people like
your writing, they're going to have to come to you to get it.'
His point was that if there is something unique about your
songwriting, people will come find you. That meant a lot to
person who fully understands Murrah's unique style is songwriter
and producer Keith Stegall. Among the 20 songs that Murrah and
Stegall have written are "We're In This Love Together"
and "Stranger Things Have Happened," and "Don't
Rock The Jukebox," the No. 1 hit they penned with Alan
became my mentor in teaching me how to write songs,"
Stegall said. "One thing he taught me is that lyrically,
less is always more. The more concise a lyric is, the better. He
taught me that little things, which seem like they might be
insignificant, can actually be the things that make a line zing
or make it hit you in the chest. Roger is so conversational. He
has a real down-to-earth approach to writing songs that makes
them very believable. I think he's one of the greatest
songwriters in this town."
and James Dean Hicks wrote "Goodbye Time," which was a
Top 10 hit for Conway Twitty in 1988. Blake Shelton's version of
the song became a Top 10 hit earlier this year. Shelton first
heard the tune years ago, in the closing segment of a television
documentary on Twitty.
the credits rolled, they had a live performance of Conway
singing it," Shelton said. "He had that thing where
his knees were bent and his veins were popping out of his head
as he sang it." Shelton's rendition of "Goodbye
Time" is included on his latest album, Blake Shelton's
Barn & Grill.
was elated at how Blake did that song," Murrah said.
"It is so unusual for somebody to cover an artist as
established as Conway and maybe even exceed the original
version. I think Blake did that."
like dozens of artists before him, Shelton discovered that a
Roger Murrah song can be a pathway to tremendous success.
the Web: www.murrahmusic.com