About 10 years ago, George Murray was leaving a dinner party held at a friend’s house on the Cutler Road in Machias. The tide was out, and the full moon shone over the mudflats — an image that to this day Murray said still haunts him. An accomplished guitarist, Murray saw an alien landscape, a scene so strange and unearthly that he was inspired to write a series of instrumental acoustic songs.
The songs became his “alien project,” a musical exploration of the landscape of Washington County and Murray’s fascination with whatever might exist in other worlds — alien beings, or otherwise.
“I’m not a UFO fanatic or a conspiracy theorist,” said Murray, who grew up in both Machias and just outside of Boston, and has lived in Maine for decades. “I just have these visions that are very intense. I have these crazy dreams, and a very active imagination, and a lot of those images are inspired by the landscape of Washington County. And a lot of it has to do with aliens.”
Traveling the backroads of Washington County, Murray is constantly reminded of what a weird landscape the area has. To him, it looks alien, and it makes him think of what might be out there in space, and what their worlds might look like. He envisions little gray men — benevolent, but totally foreign, either visiting Washington County or seeing it from afar. The landscape itself inspires him.
“The coast, and the blueberry barrens, with their weird rock formations, are just eerie. There’s something really inspiring, creatively, about all of it,” he said. “I have these dreams, and I read into them a whole slew of things — ideas, images. There’s something about Washington County that’s hard to put into words. I find it extremely powerful.”
Murray has been playing guitar since he first picked up his brother’s electric guitar at the age of 11, though he now prefers his acoustic. His biggest musical inspiration is Joni Mitchell, with her acoustic prowess and use of alternate tunings. He has written other music, besides what makes up his alien project, some with lyrics, and some on the piano.
“I’ve been trying to translate what I see around me into my music,” he said. “The challenge has always been to write stuff that makes up with these incredibly vivid images. It’s really eerie.”