Murder on Music Row

"Murder on Music Row" is a 1999 song written by Larry Cordle and Larry Shell, and originally recorded by American bluegrass group Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time, as the title track from their album Murder on Music Row.[1] It gained fame soon after that when it was recorded as a duet between American country music artists George Strait and Alan Jackson. The song laments the rise of country pop and the accompanying decline of the traditional country music sound; it refers to Music Row, an area in Nashville, Tennessee considered the epicenter of the country music industry.

Although the Strait/Jackson version was not released officially as a single, it received enough unsolicited airplay to reach number 38 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.

The original Larry Cordle version was awarded the Song of the Year award at the 2000 International Bluegrass Music Awards.[2]


"Murder on Music Row" is a lament and criticism of the ongoing trend of country pop crossover acts and pop influences on country music, a trend that has pushed traditional and neotraditional country music (and those who perform it) to the periphery. The lyrics metaphorically compare the pop trend to "an awful murder down on Music Row", and lament that "The steel guitar no longer cries and you can't hear fiddles play / But drums and rock and roll guitars are mixed up in your face."[3] In addition, the song states that older traditional country artists "wouldn't stand a chance on today's radio," citing by nickname Hank Williams ("Old Hank"), Merle Haggard ("The Hag"), and George Jones ("The Possum").

George Strait/Alan Jackson versionEdit

"Murder on Music Row"
Song by George Strait with Alan Jackson
from the album Latest Greatest Straitest Hits
ReleasedMarch 7, 2000
RecordedOctober 27, 1999
LabelMCA Nashville
Songwriter(s)Larry Cordle, Larry Shell
Producer(s)Tony Brown

The song was covered by country music artists George Strait and Alan Jackson. Originally, the two singers performed the song together at the 1999 Country Music Association Awards show;[4] Strait and Jackson later recorded it for 2000's Latest Greatest Straitest Hits album. The studio version, although never released officially as a single, reached number 38 on the Hot Country Songs chart from unsolicited play and served as the B-side to Strait's late-2000 single "Go On".[5] In 2000, it also received the Country Music Association's award for Vocal Event of the Year,[6] as well as the CMA's Song of the Year award a year later.[1][7]

Chart performanceEdit

Chart (2000) Peak
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[8] 47
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[9] 38

Dierks Bentley/George Jones versionEdit

In 2006, Dierks Bentley and George Jones recorded a version of the song that was included on the album Songs of the Year 2007, which was only available in Cracker Barrel restaurants.


Country comedy artist Cledus T. Judd parodied the song as "Merger on Music Row", in a duet with Daryle Singletary, on his 2009 album Polyrically Uncorrect; the song lamented that music piracy had taken all the profits away from country music.


  1. ^ a b Larry Cordle signs with Lonesome Day Records
  2. ^ “Murder On Music Row” and McCourys Rake In Bluegrass Hardware
  3. ^ Alan Jackson gives Nashville the finger Archived 2007-11-08 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ It Don't Matter Who's in Nashville, George Strait Is Still the King
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 407. ISBN 0-89820-177-2.
  6. ^ Alan Jackson Facts
  7. ^ CMA World Archived 2007-04-10 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 9826." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. May 1, 2000. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
  9. ^ "George Strait Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.