You can listen to “How Lovely It All Was” and the rest of The Grand Theatre Vol. 2 streaming on kxt.org.
MURRY: This is a goodbye to a friend that passed away in 2006. It was one of those sad stories — his heart was weakened because of his drug abuse, and his heart failure happened after he had sobered up. The damage was done, and he left us. His name was Alex Magosci. He had been the music editor at the Observer for a couple years, the exact years being lost in my memory. I knew him because when I had to leave home his mother gave me my first job. Alex and I became friends and I took him to his first “underground gig” in Deep Ellum, which was the hardcore punk band Gang Green from Boston at the old Liberty Hall. He was a talented drummer, and I tried to do a band with him for a time when we all lived in New Mexico, but ended up producing Rhett’s first CD and deepening my involvement with Rhett and putting everything else on the backburner, including my band with Alex. It was hard to hear of his passing, especially the way he went, and I wrote a song about how it felt to get the news and how it was to move on.
STEPHANIE: “How Lovely All It Was” is an exquisite farewell song. Murry’s wistful vocals offer a tribute that is both sad and soothing. Before Murry shared who this song was about, I knew that this was not a meaningless collection of words that rhymed. The bittersweet lyrics and their delicate accompaniment were clearly born out of a grieving heart. Everyone can relate to this in some way as we all have, or will say goodbye to someone that we love. The best part of this song, in my opinion, is the comfort of the last verse.
The sun moves up and on, and so must we my friend
How lovely all it was, how lovely all it was
Moving on can feel like impossible betrayal at the peak of mourning, but that simple titular lyric says that this beautiful life and friendship will not be forgotten, even as the unbearable pain fades away.
If I don’t see you again this way tomorrow
And my body doesn’t break under the sorrow I swallow
I’ll see you alone tomorrow
by and by
I have two words for this song: Achingly Beautiful.
Before I read Murry’s story behind the song, I thought “How Lovely All It Was” was about moving forward after the bittersweet resignation to the end of a long-term relationship with a woman who will forever occupy a corner of his heart. Knowing it’s about the unexpected death of a long-time friend makes this even more heartbreaking. Stephanie’s review says it all far more eloquently than I can. I will only say every aspect of this song is gorgeous. Well done, Murry.
JEFF: And out of left field comes the Murry song I can’t stop listening to. Cindy described this as “the Murry song that doesn’t sound like a Murry song” and we both agreed it’s a highlight on the album. It doesn’t sound like an Old 97’s song, necessarily, either. But it fits the recurring theme of sadness expressed in a non-sad way, and the breezy harmonies and jangly acoustics carry an undeniable weight. There’s a timeless air to it, a sense that maybe it’s a cover of some obscure 60’s song from a California band that tragically broke up before they ever broke out.