A Barry Klein / "Murder on Music Row" / Larry Cordle
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WANTED: JUSTICE FOR
"MURDER ON MUSIC ROW"
By Barry M. Klein - posted Oct. 18, 1999
His name is Larry Cordle. If you like real country music, it's a
name you want to remember. Cordle has recorded a song called "Murder on Music Row", a self-titled CD
officially released on October 26, 1999.
The advance "buzz" on the single track, which is an indictment of Nashville's "de-countryfying"
country music in recent years, has already stirred waves of activity on the Internet. Country music
stations are already being flooded with requests to play the song.
In case you have not heard the song, these are the lyrics:
MURDER ON MUSIC ROW
(Larry Cordle/Larry Shell)
NOBODY SAW HIM RUNNIN' FROM SIXTEENTH AVENUE
THEY NEVER FOUND A FINGERPRINT OR THE WEAPON THAT WAS USED
BUT SOMEONE KILLED COUNTRY MUSIC. CUT OUT ITS HEART AND SOUL
THEY GOT AWAY WITH MURDER DOWN ON MUSIC ROW
THE ALMIGHTY DOLLAR AND THE LUST FOR WORLD-WIDE FAME
SLOWLY KILLED TRADITION AND FOR THAT SOMEONE SHOULD HANG
THEY ALL SAY NOT GUILTY BUT THE EVIDENCE WILL SHOW
THAT MURDER WAS COMMITTED DOWN ON MUSIC ROW
FOR THE STEEL GUITARS NO LONGER CRY
THEY THOUGHT NO ONE WOULD MISS IT ONCE IT WAS DEAD AND GONE
AND FIDDLES BARELY PLAY
BUT DRUMS AND ROCK & ROLL GUITARS
ARE MIXED UP IN YOUR FACE
OL' HANK WOULDN'T HAVE A CHANCE
ON TODAY'S RADIO
SINCE THEY COMMITTED MURDER DOWN ON MUSIC ROW
THEY SAID NO ONE WOULD BUY THEM OLD DRINKIN' AND CHEATIN' SONGS
WELL THERE AIN'T NO JUSTICE IN IT AND THE HARD FACTS ARE COLD
MURDER'S BEEN COMMITTED DOWN ON MUSIC ROW
FOR THE STEEL GUITARS NO LONGER CRY
WHY THEY'D EVEN TELL THE POSSUM
AND YOU CAN'T HEAR FIDDLES PLAY
WITH DRUMS AND ROCK & ROLL GUITARS
MIXED RIGHT UP IN YOUR FACE
THE HAG WOULDN'T HAVE A CHANCE
ON TODAY'S RADIO
SINCE THEY'VE COMMITTED MURDER DOWN ON MUSIC ROW
TO PACK UP AND GO BACK HOME
THERE'S BEEN AN AWFUL MURDER DOWN ON MUSIC ROW
The songwriting credit goes to Larry Cordle and Larry Shell. Larry Cordle tells me that Larry
Shell had the idea, and Cordle developed the lyrics and music.
Even though Nashville has long been considered the Capitol of country music, there has been criticism
about the "homogenization" of country music since the 1970's, which precipitated the exile of Willie
Nelson to Texas and catalyzed the "outlaw" movement in country/western music that featured such
artists as Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jerry Jeff Walker, David Allan Coe, Kinky Friedman,
and many other country artists still currently regarded as "alt-country", which is a catch-all
phrase for any alternative country music that is more roots-oriented or progressive than the "white
bread rock formula" omnipresent in most Nashville product today.
In Larry Cordle's case, the revolution is coming from within. Larry Cordle has been a Nashville
person since devoting his full-time career to country music in 1985. Born in Eastern Kentucky "out
in the sticks" in Cordell, an area so remote that the only commercial structure was the post office
by which one could identify the area, Cordle was introduced to "real" country music at an early age by
his great-grandfather, an old-time fiddle and banjo player. Among Cordle's close friends and
neighbors was Ricky Skaggs.
Larry enlisted in the U.S. Navy upon graduating High School, and after his four years there,
enrolled at Morehead State University in Kentucky. Although Larry majored in Accounting and did
that for a living, he started tinkering with songwriting and performing as far back as his college
days at Morehead State.
His first big break came in 1983, when a song he penned, "Highway 40 Blues", became a #1 country
song for old friend Ricky Skaggs. Following the success of that hit, he devoted his full
attention to songwriting and music and moved to Nashville in 1985. Among the top 10 hits
that Larry has written are: "Honky Tonk Crowd" by John Anderson; "Lonesome Standard Time" by
Kathy Mattea; "Momma Don't Forget To Pray For Me" by Diamond Rio; "Heartbreak Hurricane" (another #1 hit
for Ricky Skaggs); "Two Highways", a #1 hit for Alison Krauss; and many other songs recorded by
such artists as Garth Brooks ("Against the Grain"); George Strait ("Hollywood Squares");
Reba McEntire ("I Don't Want To Mention Any Names"); and a duet by George Jones and Ricky
Skaggs ( "You Can't Do Wrong And Get By").
Larry Cordle believes that country songs today have "little substance - a major music form
is being eradicated". Who is responsible for this genocide? Larry feels it is the record company
executives, most of whom do not reside in Nashville, and the country music radio stations
and owners, many of which are corporate giants who feel that the songs have to sound like rock
& roll or they won't sell. In the "young country" environment of today, Larry feels, "you're out
of business by the age of 35. It's an attempt to sell records to kids, but there are real
country fans out there."
Larry does feel there are some artists and music executives who are putting out real country
music. Tony Brown with MCA is one executive Larry credits with being behind some real country
musicians. Who are the country musicians today who play and put out real country music?
Larry credits Alan Jackson and George Strait with being pure country, and mentioned some other
names that he believes are producing real country music: Brad Paisley, Lee Ann Womac, Rebecca
Lynn Howard, and new acts Julia Reeves and Mandy Barnett.
Larry's backup group is called "Lonesome Standard Time", in honor os the hit that was the #1
bluegrass record and Grammy nominee of 1992.
Since Larry's songs have been recorded by the likes of Garth Brooks, Reba, Exile, Sammy
Kershaw, Trisha Yearwood, Tracy Lawrence, George Jones, Terry Clark, Travis Tritt, John Michael
Montgomery, Shenandoah, Mel McDaniel, Moe Bandy, John Conlee and others, what are the chances that
one of these folks or others will cover this song? Larry has heard recent rumors that at least one
well-known country artist might be recording his song, but it doesn't seem to bother Larry. After a
15 year career in Nashville and an impressive songwriting resume including a Grammy nomination, Larry
would just like to let the message in "Murder On Music Row" speak for itself, and get country music
back to the real art form for which it is known.
Larry's message has already had an effect on me: the headline in my recent review of Merle
Haggard's live pay-per-view show on October 2nd reads: "OLDER HAG K.O.'S DEAD MUSIC ROW".
Is Larry Cordle optimistic that his message will be heard? "Well, the cream always rises to the top!
And Nashville, although it has been regarded as the Capitol of country music, has always tried to
play down the "hillbilly" image of its country roots. They've just gone too far now."
If the real country fans in America buy the CD and make the stations play "Murder on Music Row",
maybe we will see Larry Cordle approach the podium to accept a Grammy just like another Nashville
rebel, Willie Nelson (along with Waylon Jennings), did in 1978.
Remember the name Larry Cordle. You might be lucky enough to be hearing a lot more about him
in the weeks to come!
Larry's CD is available on-line from Amazon.com and Buy.com. Also, for those who live in the heart
of Dixie, most Tower Record stores should soon have it in stock. We encourage our readers to call their
local country radio stations to request the song!
Editor's Note: Barry Klein writes for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, and his
book, "Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll", was published in 1997. To
contact Barry, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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