A chat with Gurf Morlix
Gurf Morlix is on the road again and that’s the way he likes it. “I’m always working hard as I can,” he says. “I have a gig tonight in Tampa and the weather is fine. It’s 85 degrees and enjoyable. Tonight, it’s just my foot drums and me. I stomp on them to intensify the beat. It’s the only way I can afford to get out there. Once or twice a year, I do a gig with a band, but I like to pay ‘em what they’re worth and the money just isn’t out there for it.”
He’s touring to promote his new album, Impossible Blue, just released on his own Rootball Records label. “With the exception of my long-time drummer, Rick Richards, my friend Red Young on the Hammond B3 and Jaimee Harris on harmony vocals, I do everything myself. I record, mix, master and engineer everything in my home. There are drums in living room and some in the bedroom. It’s not really a studio. I just have some recording equipment that happens to work really well.
“I’m my own manager, road crew, driver and publicist. I’m also the distributor, with help from a guy who gets the stuff up online for me at CD Baby and other outlets. If people want an album, they can go to my website, www.gurfmorlix.com, and I’ll send ‘em an autographed copy with my DNA all over it. It’s mostly a one man operation, because it has to be.”
Like his last album, 2017’s The Soul and the Heal, Impossible Blue digs deep into issues of mortality and loss, with his usual blend of dark humor and cheerful poetry. “It’s a response to getting older,” he says. “You start thinking about those things as you age. I also had a heart attack, right after I finished making the last album. That informs the songs. Some people tell me the songs sound like someone who survived a near death experience wrote them. I don’t know how to answer that. My health seems to be good and I have a great cardiologist. He says I’m OK to eat a triple bacon cheeseburger if I want to.
“I think these are some of the best songs I’ve ever written, but I was a late starter. I never put out a record on my own until I was 50 – now I’m67. I’ve found my singing voice and I’m getting better at creating the sounds I want to hear. It’s always a puzzle to put together a good song. You have to fit everything together – words, melody, rhythm and instruments. Right now, I’m feeling pretty confident. If I get the spark of an idea, I can come up with a song I think is pretty good.”
Impossible Blue is full of slow, simmering grooves. As the title implies, most of the songs are blues based, but there are hints of rock, country and jazz in the arrangements. Morlix croons love songs like “2 Hearts Beating in Time,” and delivers rockers like “My Heat Keeps Poundin’”with a crisp bite. Songs of ecological disaster rub up against poignant tributes to close friends that have passed on.
“I called the record Impossible Blue because I’ve been wondering how blue you can be. How deep into the chasm can you go? How much sorrow can you put up with and still go on living? I’ve had a lot of friends check out voluntarily over the years. I wondered how sad you have to be to do that. I know I’ve felt bad, but never really that bad. Since the heart attack, life and death are much on my mind. I’m living on borrowed time and I’m aware of it. Everyday I’m thankful for being here. I don’t think that feeling is going to go away. Every day is special.”