"You can't have these lips cause they're telling you off, you can't have these legs because they're already crossed," sings Larissia Murphy on "Cold Shoulder," her brilliant kiss-off of a country song. You can find it on her lovely EP, Speak Your Mind, available for download here. Murphy chatted with us about working with John Prine, growing up a coal miner's daughter, Kraftwerk, Nashville pizza spots and more.
You grew up in East Kentucky, and you're the daughter of a coal miner turned preacher. What was your childhood like?
Oh man. My childhood was really great. My parents are big music lovers and I have three siblings and I feel like music was piped into our lives at every turn; from cleaning house, having living room dance parties, and (one of my favorite things to do) singing to coal truckers over the CB radio from the bed of my Dad’s Mack truck.
My Dad is a huge Elvis fan, and Loretta Lynn is my Mama’s hero (she was a member of her fan club!) so I got a steady diet of those artists. They also really loved The Everlys, Don Williams, Marty Robbins, etc. I grew up listening to all of the Opry stars. You know...that good classic country. My personal childhood faves were Alabama, Reba, Patty Loveless, Patsy, Dolly and then later Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey. Haha!
What was the first song you ever wrote?
I was inspired to write early on because my brother wrote songs and I was like, “I want to do that!” I would get a verse or a chorus here and there or would really write poetry, but I didn’t play an instrument when I was young, so I wasn’t able to get out the melody that I was hearing in my head in a cohesive way, so I sort of put it aside for a while.
From early on I’ve been a huge fan of all the songwriting greats like Dylan, Prine, Joni Mitchell, etc. and was honestly somewhat intimidated to write for quite a time. It wasn’t until I started to co-write in my twenties (and learned to play guitar) that I was like, “Oh, I can do this!” I really was able to get in there and start putting all the pieces together.
Initially, I found my courage in collaboration. One of the first songs I wrote and felt really personally connected to was a song called “Reality and a Dream,” which I cowrote with my now husband, Cole Dumas. It’s song about the struggle of youth, waiting tables and trying to figure out a way to make your dreams come true. You know, real fresh material. Ha!
How did you get involved with John Prine and Oh Boy Records?
Fiona Prine is an old friend of mine and executive producer of my recent EP, Speak Your Mind. She introduced me to John a while ago and I’ve had the pleasure of singing some demos with John. Around the time that I was getting ready to release my debut EP, Fiona introduced me to Eileen Tilson (Director of Marketing for Oh Boy Records) and we hit it off and have been working together since!
The Oh Boys folks have been super supportive and have helped me so much with getting my music out there. I really can’t sing their praises enough.
What's a John Prine album or song that you really love, and why?
Oh Lord. Too many to choose from. They’re all smashes in my book. BUT, if I had to narrow it down, I’d have to say the song "Souvenirs" always slays me. My brother brought home an old cassette mixed tape when he was in high school that his English teacher, Mildred Mullins, gave him. I was probably 10 or 11 at the time and I remember hearing these songs and not being able to believe my ears. "Souvenirs" always haunted me because I’m a sentimental ol’ gal and I thought, “Yeah, this really sums up how I feel.” He just has a way of getting in there. “All the snow has turned to water Christmas days have come and gone Broken toys and faded colors Are all that's left to linger on...” I just used to listen to that song and just cry and cry, even as a youngster. Dang, I’m tearing up now just thinking of it. It never get’s old. Of course, I could go on and on on the subject of Prine songs. "Christmas in Prison" is another favorite. There are so so many good ones to pour over.
What are some of your favorite places to eat, drink and hang out in Nashville?
Oh, I have my stand-bys, but since Nashville has exploded I feel like there are so many places I have yet to explore. I love Pizza Perfect on 21st Ave, I’ve been hitting up that place for ever and a day and am never let down by them! I will say that I just tried Joey’s House of Pizza a couple of days ago and it was fantastic. Pizza lover!! For a nice meal out, you can’t get any better than Etch restaurant in my book.
Some of my other long-time faves are PM, Provence and Brown’s diner. Can you tell I’m old school Nashville? Oh, and I think that Portland Brew definitely has the best coffee in town.
What's the last great concert you went to?
I saw the Wild Feathers at the Basement East pretty recently. They played a Lightning 100 secret show and I got to hear them play their new full length album, Lonely is a Lifetime. I love those guys and think that they are so dang talented. So that was awesome. Prior to that, it was Kraftwerk at the Ryman, which is my favorite place to see any show. Seeing the Godfathers of electronic music is something I didn’t think would ever happen. Electronic music is my husband’s thing, but I’ve gotten into their music over the years and I have to say that it was pretty mind-blowing. I’m a fan a good music in any genre. They killed it.
Have you ever been to Musicians Corner?
Well I know that it’s an awesome event and a real Nashville treat! I seriously can’t believe this, but I have not had the pleasure of coming to Musicians Corner yet! I’ve always been working on the weekends or doing shows or out of town, but this year I’m all over it. I have several good friends who have played the show and they speak of what a good time it is. I can’t wait to see for myself!