My eldest son sent me a meme the other day. He found it hilarious. It read:
The good news about middle age is that the glass is still half-full… of course, the bad news is that it won’t be long before your teeth are floating in it.
For some strange reason…I didn’t find it equally funny. And to get back to the world in general, I forwarded the meme over to my dad, who sent me a meme back that said, “My kids are annoying, so I drink.”
But honestly, there's something both scary and liberating about being in your forties. The feeling of liberation comes from having accomplished quite a few things in your life already. In a way, you've proven your worth to the world and in the process, you've also built up your self-confidence to where you are one with who you are. Pretty cool, right? Right.
However, what is not cool is the scary side of this particular age. You see, by the time you hit, say, forty-five, you have lived through enough setbacks, health scares, broken relationships and lost weekends (if you don't know what that means, consult any reputable John Lennon bio online) to be truly scared of life and more to the point, scared of love. As a result, when it comes to living or loving, you are lost being hopeful and doubtful at the same time. To play it safe and minimize future damage, you start focusing your energy on things that are real and true instead of pipe dreams or things that wear you down. And this brings us to our song of the week, Robb Murphy’s "The Mysteries Of The Heart."
Mr. Murphy might be Irish but this song has Americana written all over it: the Nashville-flavored guitar licks, heartfelt vocals (his voice has great character and color), the tambourine on the beat, economical but effective bass playing and those majestic, airy harmonies that are brought in after the first chorus. And in case you don’t particularly care for the awkwardly wide genre of music that’s labeled Americana, don’t fret, there is a still a very good chance that you like Robb Murphy. You see the thing that sets Robb Murphy apart from so many others that dally around with this genre is that he knows more than three chords, writes beautiful, musical melodies and lyrics that demonstrate the type of maturity, perspective and sincerity that most music labeled as Americana lacks. In fact, rather than call this music Americana, let’s call it folk music influenced by the likes of Gene Clark and the Eagles.
While you can definitely hear the Eagles’ influence in the music, Gene Clark is probably the best comparison when it comes to Murphy’s forte, his lyrics. Much like Clark’s, Murphy’s lyrics are serene, subtle and tender.
And let it all unfold
The mysteries of the heart
And let the truth be told
If I really have your hand
These are words that emit warmth. They are sincere and wise, spoken softly to the person closest to your heart in an attempt to find out if you can finally bend a knee and "clench that deal."
Another sentiment that’s captured in "The Mysteries Of The Heart" quite nicely is the feeling of not wanting to carry a grudge or stay angry with someone after a certain point in life. Based on my experience, as we mature we start waving the "flag of truce" a lot more than we do in our formative years. Perhaps, we come to realize what Murphy’s lyrics point out in the tag of the song, "we're only here a short time."
Yet, nowhere are Murphy’s words more impressive than here:
And I'm not giving up or letting go
I'm ready to evacuate my self-doubt, take control
All I want is something real
All I want is something pure
The message is clear: Being brave doesn’t mean being fearless or free of doubt; it means courageously taking control and moving forward regardless of the fears you have. This is clearly an artist saying that he’s had his fill of games and dishonesty and that from now on, he does not have time for half-assed love affairs anymore. Mr. Murphy might not be middle-aged himself yet and he certainly wasn’t even close when this song came out in 2015 but he sure seems to have life and love down pretty well – perhaps it’s not the age but the mileage that counts.
If you like "The Mysteries Of The Heart," keep listening. Check out the album it’s featured on, "Sleep Tonight," as well as the absolutely brilliant "North Star," Murphy’s latest single. This truly is a stellar song that sounds like an outtake from the Kinks’ "Village Green Preservation Society." And I do not make that comparison lightly since I regard Ray Davies as one of the best songwriters in pop/rock. "Italian Dreams" is another Kinks-like Murphy gem with an incredibly enchanting melody. The very same rings true for the song "Sleep Tonight" as well.
While Murphy’s music might not appeal to the trend-hunters, cooler-than-thou crowds or the casual listener with a palate for Top 20, it will stop anyone who appreciates quality music in their tracks. There’s no doubt in my mind that these tunes will continue to impress folk lovers for years to come. Strangely enough, these are also tunes that will not sound any more dated in fifty years than they do now. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is perhaps one of the hardest things to achieve when making music: timelessness.
Oh, and just for the record, I am not forty-five. Rather, I’m twenty-five with twenty years of experience.
Check out the official music video of another awesome Murphy track, “Headstrong.”
You can learn more about Robb Murphy here:
About the curator - Tommi Tikka
Tom Tikka is a linguist, poet, professional songwriter, recording artist and a music aficionado. He started playing guitar when he was four and writing songs when he was six. Consequently, he doesn't remember a time when he wasn't playing or writing. It's fair to say, music and lyrics are not just something he loves to engage himself in; to him, they are a way of life.