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Rooted in Country: Matt Urmy on John Prine's 'Spanish Pipedream'

B.K. Monroe

Nashville's own Matt Urmy had quite the winding road to the release of his new record, Out Of The Ashes. After years of playing with local honky-tonk bands, he focused more on his solo work. Not long after, he had a chance meeting that changed the course of his career.

He built a friendship with "Cowboy" Jack Clement, influential country singer, songwriter and producer. The two agreed to create an album together in 2010. But just weeks later, their initial recordings were thought to be destroyed when Clement's home and studio burned to the ground.

A year later, their recording engineer contacted Urmy with good news. Their raw sound files were recovered and work could start again. He and Clement reconnected and finished out the album, writing the record's title track that was inspired by the entire ordeal, and the magical and inspiring "We Must Believe In Magic."

But way back before he even met Clement, Urmy was looking to the greats like "Cowboy" Jack to hone his own sound. When we asked him to name a track that has made a lasting impact on him as an artist, he tipped his hat to the legendary John Prine.

"When I was really getting into studying songwriting, Prine's 'Spanish Pipedream' really knocked me out," Urmy tells Wide Open Country. "When I discovered this song, it had it all for me, for where I was in my journey," he explains. "The verses told a story and painted crystal clear images. 'She was a level-headed dancer on the road to alcohol...', they're very grounded, but fantastical at the same time. Then, on the chorus, he jumps up into the bigger, universal ideas."

"The groove and the music just killed me too," Urmy continues. "I was early into discovering country music as a grown man and this kind of song just freaked me out in all the right ways. Every time I hear it, I feel just like I did when I first started writing songs. It makes me newly feel in love with music and writing."

While working on his upcoming album, Urmy reached out to Prine to ask if he'd lend his voice to the title track. Aside from Matt being inspired by John's work, the two were also connected by Clement. They had both visited his home just hours before it burned down. Prine obliged, and helped to complete both a full circle moment and a project that survived going up in flames.

Out Of The Ashes drops tomorrow, March 31. You can find a full list of Matt Urmy's upcoming tour dates via his official website.

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Rooted in Country: Matt Urmy on John Prine's 'Spanish Pipedream'