Gurf Morlix: sideman steps out – May 2000
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Gurf Morlix: sideman steps out  Print

By Jeffrey B. Remz, May 2000

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"I was kind of looking for more," he says. "(Stevenson) wasn't playing that much."

"The pool of musicians in Austin was fairly small," he says. "It still is. Austin's a great little training ground. It's a great place for live music, but at some point you might have to go someplace else."

Next stop was Los Angeles in 1981 where he stayed for a decade and made his move musically.

"I kicked around for two or three years doing pick-up gigs, but started meeting people. I started in this scene meeting Lucinda Williams, Jim Lauderdale, Rosie Flores and Dave Alvin. The whole scene was happening at the time, and the timing was great."

By 1985, he hooked up with Williams on a full-time basis. She eventually inked a record deal with Rough Trade, and Morlix produced her well-received self-titled disc.

"We had a very finite, small budget (about $17,000) and we had about a week and a half," he says. "It was very short. When we were done, we were done."

At that point, Morlix felt a real kinship with Williams' music.

"Great songs. Great feel, just an emotional connection between her songs and her listeners and between her songs and me. She's as good a songwriter as there is."

"The songs really spoke to me. It was so easy. It was no work involved. It was just 'play these songs.' That's how they came out," he says.

He also produced the follow-up "Sweet Old World" in 1992.

But then the wait went on and on and on, six years in between albums for Williams until "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road."

The delay, which included numerous recording attempts, took its toll.

"There was plenty for me to do," says Morlix. "Songwriters who write songs on a deadline generally aren't any good. If you force that stuff, it will show up...When it comes time, we'll make a record and not before."

He had moved back to Austin 1991, producing Butch Hancock and later Robert Earl Keen ("Walking Distance") and two Slaid Cleaves albums.

Morlix hit the road with Warren Zevon and Michael Penn and played with actor Harry Dean Stanton.

"It was time for a change," he says of the split with Williams. "I hadn't really seen it coming. At one point, working with any artist, artists have their idiosyncrasies. That's the trade-off - the idiosyncrasies with the art. The balance shifted to the point where I couldn't work with it any more. It was just time for a change."

"I'm not looking to air this in public. I just stopped. I wanted something different. I wanted my life to be calm. I made a good decision."

The two are not in any touch.

Morlix, who also has done a Sunday gig for awhile with the Imperial Golden Crown Harmonizers, a gospel septet. eventually hooked up with Eric Babcock, the head of Catamount through his lawyer. Babcock asked if Morlix had recorded anything.

The end result is the album.

Not that Morlix ever expected that to happen.

"I didn't think eventually it would come. I was writing those things. I was going to keep writing those songs no matter what. I didn't think I'd have an album some day."

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