Musicians’ Memoirs, Michael Martin Murphey, South by Southwest, and Gov. Pat McCrory

SIGNS AND WONDERS

Musical Memoirs. I’ve noticed a number of memoirs by musicians being released this spring, with an emphasis on Christian faith. “This Life I Live,” Rory Feek’s story of life with wife Joey, who died in 2016 from cancer, debuted at #2 on the Publisher’s Weekly Hardcover Nonfiction bestseller list. (We have a review of that book here on the BreakPoint site.) Steven Curtis Chapman’s new book, “Between Heaven and the Real World,” is a great read that includes behind-the-scenes descriptions of his musical life, but also a raw and transparent look at some of his lowest points, including the death of his five-year-old daughter and the impact it had on his family and his faith. Perhaps the most surprising book is “An Outlaw and a Lady,” the new autobiography of Jessi Colter. Colter was one of the few women in the “outlaw country” movement that included her longtime husband Waylon Jennings. The book chronicles her musical life, but also her Christian faith and how it helped her through personal struggles, including the decision to put her own successful career on hold to devote herself to Jennings as he battled drug addiction, medical, and other problems. Despite a lot of ups and downs, Colter and Jennings remained together from their marriage in 1969 until Waylon Jennings’ death in 2002.

Cosmic Cowboy Milestone. Speaking of “outlaw country,” today is the 72nd birthday of Michael Martin Murphey. Murphey had his earliest successes in the 1960s as a songwriter; he co-wrote the 1969 Monkees’ hit “What Am I Doing Hanging Round.” But he had his biggest successes as a performer. He was a seminal force in the Austin music scene, and an integral member of the “outlaw country” movement that included Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and others. His ’70s hits “Wildfire” and “Carolina in the Pines” are still played on the radio. He had a string of country hits in the 1980s, and his ’90s-era Americana and bluegrass albums have sold millions of copies. He earned a Grammy nomination for his 2009 album “Buckaroo Bluegrass.” Murphey is also a committed Christian who often includes gospel songs on his albums and talks about his faith during the more than 100 concerts he still does each year. I’ve interviewed this music legend several times over the years, and you can find some of those articles here.

South by Southwest. The South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, began in 1987 as a small music festival. Less than 1000 people showed up. This year’s 30th anniversary edition, going on this week, will attract more than 150,000. It still includes music; more than 2000 concerts take place at hundreds of venues in the Austin area. However, the event has expanded to include film, interactive media, and educational conferences. I’ve covered the event twice, and it is an exhilarating and exhausting nine days, but if you want to see what is going on in pop culture—or what is likely to go on in the year ahead—SXSW is perhaps the country’s most reliable bellwether. The movie “The Hurt Locker” premiered at South by Southwest in 2010, and then went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture. Technologies such as Twitter, and musical acts including Hanson, John Mayer, and Polyphonic Spree, got their starts—or a big boost—by appearing at “South By.”

Governor Backlash. An interview I did with former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is making news. In our conversation, McCrory said corporations who might normally want him to sit on their boards are shying away from him because of his stand on transgender people and bathrooms. He said that what he believes is the “common sense” decision to require men to use men’s bathrooms and locker rooms, and women to use women’s, has been portrayed as “almost a crime.” McCrory would not name companies that have refused to put him on their boards because of his stand, but he told me that “in private they say they’re with me, but in public they can’t be” because of what he calls the “thought police” led by the pro-LGBT Human Rights Campaign. To hear the whole interview, click here.

Image copyright Thomas Nelson.

Warren Cole Smith is an investigative journalist and author as well as the Colson Center vice president for mission advancement.


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