'It still doesn't quite feel real' — Song written by Perham-raised artist recorded and released by Tim McGraw

"Standing Room Only," a country single performed by Tim McGraw, was released on Friday, March 10. The song was collaboratively written by three different artists, including Perham's Patrick Murphy.

Patrick Murphy, a Nashville singer/songwriter who graduated from Perham High School, performs on stage with a guitar.
Contributed / Patrick Murphy
Patrick Murphy
Patrick Murphy, born and raised in Perham, was one of several writers behind Tim McGraw's new single, "Standing Room Only."
Contributed / Patrick Murphy

PERHAM — Recently, the words of a young man raised in Perham have been heard around the world through the voice of well-known three-time Grammy Award-winning country artist, Tim McGraw. The words of former Perham resident Patrick Murphy shine through in a song he collaboratively wrote: "Standing Room Only." The single, performed by McGraw, was released on Friday, March 10.

Though the song was just released, it was actually written over two years ago at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020. Because social distancing was still in place, Murphy met with two other writers over Zoom: Tommy Cecil and the well-known Craig Wiseman. At the time, Murphy didn't really suspect anything would come of the song, but, two years later, that would all change.

Long before 2020 even began, however, he started his musical path at a young age near the Perham area. Though he lived about 30 minutes south of Perham near Phelps Mill, he attended school in Perham. It was in both these Otter Tail County places that his love for music began.

"When I was two, my parents got me this tiny little piano," Murphy remembered. "It was called the Little Tike's keyboard, and it probably had 30 keys on it, maybe. But it made all these different noises. My dad ran a dairy supply company, so I would go on the route with him and just sit in the semitruck. Really, all that we listened to was classic radio, country radio. We just listened to it all, and I would come home and play on this little keyboard that I had. Or we'd go to church, and I'd come home and play — just plunk out notes on this keyboard that I had."

As his parents watched him play on this tiny toy piano, they decided to get him something a little bigger to see if it was something Murphy wanted to pursue with his life. So, when he was about 5 years old, he started taking piano lessons and playing at church. This originally started out as a fun hobby for him, something to do on the side. He was also involved in three different sports, after all, and he wanted to try balancing them both.


However, his talent was quickly noticed by more people around him than even just his family. When he was 12, he ended up entering a contest at the Minnesota State Fair called the Minnesota County Fair Talent Contest. He went all the way to the grandstand at the Minnesota State Fair, singing and playing piano in front of thousands of people in 2010. He even won in his age group of 12 and under.

His future of success was clear from the start, and it was around this time, at age 13, that he started to take music more seriously.

It was on this Zoom call between Craig Wiseman, Tommy Cecil and Patrick Murphy that Tim McGraw's new single, "Standing Room Only," was written.
Contributed / Patrick Murphy

"And kind of like that, my dad and I were just like, 'Well, it'd be fun to just find some places around the area that I could go play and sing a little bit and just really play for tips,'" Murphy recalled. "The first place I ever had a gig was at Spanky's. We just kind of kept trying to find places that we can go play around the area that made sense. That was really all throughout middle school and high school. Then probably, my junior/senior year was when it was time to figure out what was going to happen after high school."

A friend of Murphy's dad suggested they check out Nashville, and after a trip to Belmont University, Murphy fell in love with the city. Despite being 16 hours away from his family, he knew going there was the right choice. So, after he graduated from Perham High School in 2016, he decided to pursue a music degree and career.

Toward the end of his college education, a friend of his thought that his publishing deal was ending. The friend started sending out demos that Murphy sang on to publishers. Once the friend realized that his publishing deal wasn't up, one of the publishers still expressed interest in the person singing the demos. Long story short, Murphy ended up getting offered — and signed — a deal with Sony Music Publishing in December 2019, about five days before he graduated from college.

Eventually, on top of his publishing deal, he was also offered a record deal by Warner Music Nashville with the help of his publisher and manager. He signed that record deal, and, since then, he spends his days connecting and writing music with other artists throughout Nashville. He keeps the songs he feels are right for himself to perform, and songs that aren't quite a fit for him will be "sent out into the universe," as he put it, in case other performers eventually want to have it for their own performances.

"I feel very fortunate," Murphy said reflecting on his career. "It's awesome. This is kind of what you move to town to do and to be a part of."

He has recorded several singles and even an EP, which are available to listen to on Spotify, Apple Music or any other music app just by searching "Patrick Murphy." He also has a YouTube account, also under his name, that features lyric and music videos of his own performances — some of these videos garnering thousands of views .


Another song he helped write was published by an artist and actor by the name of Joshua Bassett, known for acting on the Disney Plus show "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series." The two worked on the song "Feel Something" together, and Bassett ended up loving it. So, he recorded it. The song now has 3.8 million views on YouTube.

All this work and experience led up to when Murphy sat down with Tommy Cecil and Craig Wiseman on that one Zoom call in 2020 to write "Standing Room Only," which was originally inspired by a line Cecil heard in a Netflix show that said something along the lines of: "I hope, one day at my funeral, I live a life so that when I die, there's standing room only." Despite seeming like a rather mature song for the then-22-year-old Murphy, he collaborated on it with the two other writers.

This graphic, depicting Tim McGraw, is the cover for "Standing Room Only," which Patrick Murphy collaborated in writing.
Contributed / Patrick Murphy

"So, we finish the song," Murphy remembered. "Fast forward a couple months — I didn't even notice it happened, but Craig sent the song to Tim (McGraw). He just texted it to him and Tim responded, 'Hey, man. I really like this song. Can I put it on hold?' Which is basically like an artist asking if they can keep it without recording it but also (we) don't pitch the song to anyone else. They're kind of given the exclusive ability to hold on to that song while they're getting ready to go into the studio."

Fast forward about two years, and nothing had come of it quite yet. This is quite common in the Nashville music industry, so Murphy didn't think much of it. That is until he was told that Tim McGraw was going into the studio and may record their song.

"I was like, 'sweet,'" Murphy recalled. "'Well, let's cross our fingers and see what happens. And if it doesn't, it is what it is. And if it does, great' … And he recorded the song … A couple days after New Year's of this year, Tommy sent me a screenshot from Tim to Craig, and it just said, 'Hey, "Standing Room Only" will be my first single.' And I was pumped."

Murphy, beyond excited, celebrated with some friends, but he was still waiting to hear when the song was coming out. Just about three weeks ago, he found out the release date. And now, the song is out for country fans to listen to around the world.

"It still doesn't quite feel real," Murphy said. "Every time I look at it on whatever (platform), it just blows my mind. My first big artist cut is, like, one of the best — one of the greatest — of all time, and that's Tim McGraw."

"Standing Room Only" is available for listening on Spotify, Apple Music or any other music streaming platform. It can also be found on YouTube. For more information on Patrick Murphy, such as his music and tour dates, go to his website at .

Elizabeth (she/her), 24, graduated with a degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Wisconsin–Stout in 2020. Elizabeth has always had a passion for telling stories about people and specializes in community features, which she uses for her Perham-centered content.
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