Gurf Morlix says he’s been writing songs for more than 30 years, but “it’s only been in the last three or four years I feel like I’ve written some that are any good.”
It’s a surprising admission given the gravitas of Morlix’s career. The Buffalo-born multiinstrumentalist, now a resident of Austin, Texas, has a resume of credits that includes Warren Zevon, Lucinda Williams, Patty Griffin, Michael Penn, Jim Lauderdale and many others. He’s a go-to player and producer, but he claims it’s taken the course of five solo albums — including the new “Last Exit to Happyland” — for his own songwriting to reach his high standards.
“I’ve learned from all those songwriters I’ve worked with as a record producer,” Morlix, 57, says. “I’ve talked to all of them a lot. It just took a while to have the perspective to put together what they were telling me.
“It’s really hard,” he adds with a laugh. “No one just sits down and is able to just throw those (songs out). It takes a lot of work; you need the creative spark and then you need to craft that. I just hope I’ve learned to craft these songs to the point where they’re as good as they can be.”
Morlix says his goal on “Last Exit...” was “just ... to have enough good songs to make a record.” But he wound up with a thread between the 10 tracks “about a split-second moment where you’re faced with a decision and you have to make that decision — and the consequences may be devastating.”
“I don’t know why that presented itself, but it seems like that’s what’s going on here,” says Morlix, who was helped on the album by singers Griffin, Barbara K of Timbuk3 and Ruthie Foster.
“I think that happened on the last record, too (2007’s ‘Diamonds to Dust’). I wrote a couple songs and it turned out to be about people dying. People were coming up and telling me they were moved by this or that song, and that had never happened before. That made me raise the bar on the songwriting for this one.”
Gurf Morlix and Ralston Bowles perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (March 28) at the Trinity House, 38840 W. Six Mile Road, Livonia. Tickets are $15, $12 for subscribers. Call (734) 464-6302 or visit www.trinityhouse.org.
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