A Hidden Gem: Michael Martin Murphy ‘Goodbye Old Desert Rat’
It's 1975 and I'm a fresh faced kid working my way through my very first full year in radio. I was working at KXYR in Winner, South Dakota and I, like most of the rest of the country, was swept up by one of the year's best songs.
Michael Martin Murphy had a massive hit with that song, and I mean huge! Not only a country music hit, it was a pop/rock hit and an adult contemporary music smash as well. It was one of those songs you couldn't get away from, and you didn't want to. 'Wildfire' was being played up and down the radio dial and, along with 'Carolina In The Pines', was one of two hit's for Michael from his 'Blue Sky Night Thunder' album.
I've always loved the songwriters and it was in the early 1970's that I 'discovered' great songwriters like Kris Kristofferson, Shel Silverstein, Gram Parsons, Jerry Jeff Walker and others. And then, in 1975, I discovered Michael Martin Murphy.
I was one of the 800,000 that bought the 'Blue Sky Night Thunder' album, mostly because of 'Wildfire'. Well, I found the entire album was great, and in fact my all-time favorite Michael Martin Murphy song is included on it.
Nope, it wasn't a huge hit single. In fact, it wasn't a single at all. I guess perhaps it wasn't considered commercial enough. But the song has everything, and I mean everything, a truly great song has to have. The song is called 'Goodbye Old Desert Rat', and to me it's a love song (I know, I know, you don't find many love songs with 'desert rat' in the title!). Best of all, it does what every great song does...it paints a picture. It comes alive in your mind, your imagination and suddenly that old desert rat is right there in front of you. And he's not just someone you meet, someone you know. He's someone you love, you respect.
Let's meet that old desert rat. Just start the video and, while there are beautiful images in the video, I'd rather you close your eyes and let Michael Martin Murphy paint you a picture, using words as his paint brush.