THE IDLE AMERICAN: Free gas not in the cards

Published 6:12 am Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury


Craig Murphy is a “pay it forward” kind of guy. If such courtesy were a corporation, his “giving back” nature might qualify him for the board of directors.

It’s simply the way he’s wound.

So, his friends weren’t surprised recently when it appeared he might be the recipient of a free tank of gas.

Murphy, whose 500 gigs in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex last year could make him the most durable vocalist around, was mystified when the gas pump balked at taking his credit card.

Instead, he was instructed to “lift the handle and begin filling.” He reinserted his card repeatedly without success.

Finally, he followed instructions, filling his 1991 Chevrolet pick-up, the one with 284,000 miles on it that his dad had been “thumbs down” on. Craig, then 21, bought it anyway.

The pump surrendered $30 worth of gas, but Craig never thought it to be a “gift.”

He insisted the attendant charge $30 on his credit card. The clerk explained that it was common for drivers to fall victims to distractions. He said they sometimes pay for the gas, see a longtime friend at the next pump, start visiting and absentmindedly forget to pump the gas. “Then, they come back later with their sad stories, and I don’t know if they’re telling the truth.”

Craig nodded understandingly. “If no one comes back, void my charge,” he requested. “If someone returns, just call to let me know, then charge my card.” Sure enough, a few hours later the attendant called, expressing thanks from a customer–the one who returned later to tell his tale of woe. Learning of Craig’s thoughtfulness, he then pumped the gas he’d paid for earlier. Craig was right; there had been no intention to “pay it forward” with gasoline.

Murphy didn’t find his niche until a few years ago. He trained to be an auto mechanic, and later was a police officer. Neither was his cup of tea.

He began part-time work at Fort Worth Radio Station KTFW 92.1, “HANK-FM.” Friends noticed his singing ability, and soon he was appearing at Johnny High’s Country Music Revue in Arlington.

Four years ago, he began singing regularly at various venues, largely care centers whose residents love his renditions of old favorites they grew up on. He now has standing dates at several locations, and it’s not uncommon for him to do three gigs per day.

A highlight of 2016 was his recording of “The First Christmas Day,” an upbeat melody written by a care center resident who asked Craig to record it. He sold hundreds of holiday CDs, and this year, he took on a bigger project—recording his first full album, “Country My Way,” in Nashville.

Ronnie Milsap’s band backed him up, and the album is now in hand. Included is Glen Campbell’s hit, “Wichita Lineman.” The number is particularly meaningful for Craig. His late older brother, John, was an Oncor troubleshooter/lineman for almost 20 years before contact with a live wire 10 years ago come September. It was John’s first and only fulltime job after high school. (The family experienced another tragedy just six weeks following John’s death when his stepson, 18, was killed in an automobile accident.)

“I wanted to sing ‘Wichita Lineman’ in honor of Glen Campbell and in memory of my brother,” Craig said.

So that’s the way it is for this popular vocalist. He’s on pace to make another 500 appearances this year.

He’s a class act who seemingly can’t get enough of “giving back.” (He even runs the sound system mixing board every Sunday at church.)

Asked how his new album can be purchased, his face reddened and he lowered his head. I’m happy to provide the information: This guy has found his niche.


Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: