He's the chipper one in the band, the one who wears the iconic coke-bottle glasses and the one who can't get through an entire set without smiling ear to ear and greeting the crowd with a hearty, "Hey, everybody!" But, let's face it, when it comes to the Old 97's, Murry Hammond, certainly as far as songwriting goes, has been cast as the second fiddle to the band's prolific frontman, Rhett Miller.
Shame, too, since recent memory has found Hammond penning some of the more heartfelt, memorable tracks on the band's albums -- songs such as "Color Of A Lonely Heart is Blue" off of 2008's Blame It On Gravity and the tandem of "You Were Born To Be In Battle" and "You Smoke Too Much" off of last year's The Grand Theatre, Vol. One.
Hammond's always been a fine songwriter in his own right, though -- something his solo debut, 2008's I Don't Know Where I'm Going But I'm On My Way, showcased, as it earned rave reviews across the board, even from the likes of the usually fickle Pitchfork.
Still, underappreciated seems a fitting description of Hammond's talents. So, surely then, this must come as a nice nod: In this month's music-centric issue of Esquire, it's a Hammond-penned Old 97's song -- "You Smoke Too Much" -- that earned the band a spot on the magazine's list of 50 songs that every man should listen to.
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Writes staunch 97's supporter, Austin-based writer and KSGR-93.3 FM Radio Austin host Andy Langer of the track:
Although Rhett Miller sings 97 percent of Old 97's songs, our favorites are the ones sung by the band's bassist, Murry Hammond. Which seem to always involve cigarettes in some way.
Couldn't agree more. Below, watch Hammond and the rest of the band performing the song in a poorly lit Barley House, where the band debuted some of their The Grand Theatre, Vol. One material, including "You Smoke Too Much," as part of a celebration for Miller's 40th birthday back in September of last year.