Elliott Murphy

Looking Back...

... Is the title of the last song, Side B, of my second album Lost Generation, released in 1975 on RCA Records. The album was recorded in Los Angeles at a monumental and historically significant recording studio that doesn't exist anymore, Elektra Sound Recorders, in January of that same year and produced by Paul A. Rothschild, who shepherded both the Doors and Janis Joplin to Hitsville, USA, from the same hallowed studio grounds.

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Aquashow Deconstructed

When my debut album Aquashow was released in 1973 it marked the beginning of a life I started imagining when I first travelled to Europe and began writing songs in cheap hotel rooms in Rome's Campo di Fiori and played on the streets of Paris and Amsterdam.

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Intime

Where do we go from here? That's what I was thinking as I was passing grey days sitting with my guitar and laptop at my kitchen table. The table, a sturdy oak, was bought from a neighbor who passed away some years ago. His name was Dominique and once I gave him a Harley Davidson motorcycle jacket that was too big for me even though he rode a Triumph.

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Jazz

There was a time, back in high school, when I listened to jazz more then any other kind of music. Not at Harlem clubs of course (I was too young and too white to get in) or even on my home stereo but when I was actually there in the school building, bored out of my mind, waiting for the bell to freedom to ring at 3:05.

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Marty May is Alive and Well and Living in France

In 1979 I was sleeping on a cot in my mother's den playing underpaid gigs all over New York and New Jersey and trying to figure out what the hell happened to my once promising career. Five years earlier, I was living a glamorous life at the Beverly Hills Hotel in a style I could grow accustomed to, where the clothes closets were bigger then the room I was now occupying.

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In The Beginning

We came down from the high valleys where the mountains sentineled our path into the soft pine forest; spindly legged like spotted fawns, like transfigured doves of peace although we were nothing of the kind. We were poet warriors with long bows and lutes at our side, bound for an existential defeat, leaving a bloody path of discontent in our wake. We were the not quite satisfied, forever drawn inward, always the outcast and the last defenders of a bloated society that would not let us in.

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The Leopard

"If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change." That's a line from The Leopard, a novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. Did I read the book? Well … most of it. But I saw the film with Burt Lancaster and that left enough of an impression. In fact, I liked almost anything Burt Lancaster was in but I especially liked Atlantic City, Vera Cruz and, perhaps my favorite film of all time The Swimmer, which was directed by both Frank Perry and Sidney Pollack.

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Just A Story...From London

London is tattoos on beautiful orange clockwork girls who wear red daffy duck ribbons in their hair & everywhere pop music with a tremendous low end like they invented it here (& maybe they did) & denim hot pants so short the front pockets hang out & worn with ratty charcoal panty hose & vintage ankle boots & there's a definite non-Latin feeling here, more squares & blasts then circles & subtlety, but London is the Rome of today & Paris is the Athens & we're caught somewhere in between & America is outer space while the black hole of South America & the Asian Capitalist Empire is ready to suck it all in.

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Justified!

Been reading in Wikipedia (where else?) about famous American pioneer figure Kit Carson who, if nothing else, had a great rock 'n roll name. Most of his renown came from fighting Indians in the US Southwest, primarily the crafty Apaches, and although my own sentiments tend to lie on the side of the Indians, it does seem that there was a grudging respect from both sides back in the day. Toward the end of his life, Kit himself buried the hatchet and travelled east to Washington DC with some Ute chiefs to plead with the US Government for better conditions on the pitiful reservations – no need to wonder how that turned out.

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Hotel de la Paix

Evening has come surprisingly fast as I sit here at the desk of my finely appointed very mauve hotel room. In front of me, just out the window there, the long lights of Geneva's opposite shoreline arc around the lake and almost every formidable building I can see is crowned with the logo of a Swiss watch manufacturer - Hublot, Patek Philippe, Rolex. There's the whooshing sound of traffic coming up three floors to my room from the lakeside drive below which, bizarrely enough, I find comforting.

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Breakthrough Moment

I had a breakthrough moment on my way to Brindisi, Italy last month. The day started out bad – not enough sleep, a barking dog and a lack of information about where I was going. But I run on a leap of faith most days anyway, especially when I have two flights in front of me, a very tight connection, which forgives no screw-up be it clogged Paris traffic or late flight arrivals. The Normandy All-Stars had arrived in Paris from ... Normandy, the night before and were bivouacked at the famous Hotel Bonne Nouvelle, located just across the street from my home and highly recommended for value and conviviality.

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Where's I'm At ...

I'm sick of talking about myself. Been doing a bunch of interviews lately for my new album and although the majority of the writers I've been seeing are intelligent, pleasant and truly insightful the problem is ... me and my reluctance to tell my story anymore, to find meaningful answers to their probing questions.

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The Beat Goes On

Today I heard the sad news about the death of Jerry Burchard, the original keyboard player of the Aquashow band back in 1972 when we were playing my songs in the clubs of New York with the hopes of finding a deal with a record company. Jerry grew up in my hometown of Garden City; he was just a year older then me but already a local legend playing his Wurliltzer electric piano in bar bands around Long Island.

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Signs Of Summer On A TGV

Hello ... Aqua-blue seas somewhere off the cote d'azur in the south of France, lounging on a beach chair sipping an iced Coke Zero, wondering if its time for a dip in the sparkling Mediterranean bathtub or should I order a heaping plate of peeled shrimp or a club sandwich. Better yet, continue to stare behind my Ray-Bans at the mini-kini clad delicious duo lying topless on the blanket next to me. Perhaps they need my tanning advice ... Wake up Elliott!

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Highway 61 Birthday Signs

I've been doing shows at the legendary New Morning club in Paris for 20 years or more and every time it just gets better. For the past 10 years I play there within a week or so of my birthday on March 16 and a celebratory air impermeates Rue Petites Ecuries. The New Morning is a big old Jazz club with a great stage and solid sound system so you really feel the weight of the crowd and the finesse of the musicians. This year was sold out well in advance so we might go for two nights in 2011.

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10 Albums That Changed My Life By Elliott Murphy

Recently Goldmine Magazine asked me to list the ten albums that changed my life which led me way down memory lane. It was a tough road to follow because I could have written about a hundred albums, books and movies that changed my life ... not to mention women! Anyway, here's what came to mind right away so come take a trip with me.

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New DVD/CD Alive In Paris available October 5! - September 2009

The new live performance DVD/CD Alive In Paris will be available in stores the first week of October and the CD Audio available on iTunes even before that. It was the last thing I expected when I moved to France nearly 20 years ago - that my career would be celebrated in a wonderful exhibition at the beautiful town hall of the 6th Arrondisement near Boulevard St. Germain on the left bank of Paris.

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It Was Twenty Years Ago Today Sergeant Murphy Taught The French To Play ... Part One - June 13, 2009

I moved to Paris 20 years ago next month. Can't believe it myself. I've lived here longer than anyplace else in my life, a third of my life and longer then New York City or Long Island. And I've received more mail addressed to me at rue Beauregard then at any other mailbox that has had my name affixed to it. So now I'm trying to think of all the addresses I've had in my life where I stayed longer then a month before my memory starts fading. I've already forgotten most of the shows I've played. (But luckily Oliver remembers them all!)

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What The F* - April 13, 2009

I've got a new song called "What the Fuck is going on" and please excuse my French but the title came to me in a raging vision while I was watching the economic news on CNN the other day with stories about lots of folks losing their houses while a few others take multi-million dollar bonuses. I'm sure my reaction was not unique and the outrage seems to be shared by nearly everyone … who is not getting a multi-million dollar bonus this year, that is.

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California Dreaming - January 2009

Well its 2009 and ... I'm optimistic but don't ask me why. Maybe because this past year was so incredibly gratifying for me. So many sold out shows all over the world, a new album Notes From The Underground that some outrageous reviewers are calling my ... best in a decade (All Music Guide), a generous and humbling exhibition of my career in music and literature at the Marie of the 6th Arrondisement here in my hometown of Paris entitled Elliott Murphy: Last of the Rock Stars - Retrospective capped by a standing room only concert in the beautiful 19th Century Concert Hall of the Marie...

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In Dreams - May 2008

A little over 20 years ago my ears started ringing and they haven't stopped making that damn sound since. It's a noise only I can hear and ear doctors (of whom I've seen my share) call this incurable condition Tinnitus. It can be caused by a lot of things I suppose but in my case the culprit was definitely many, many wonderful years of playing loud rock 'n roll and the perpetuator was caught red-handed holding my Fender Stratocaster Guitar plugged into a Twin-Reverb Amp and everything turned up to 10.

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And So We Beat On...- March 3, 2008

Number Thirty rolling and rocking down the track - Notes From The Underground - new album, eleven new songs, next move toward Graceland. And I must say was as painless a musical operation as I've ever done. Even the Pizza in Le Havre has gotten better. Thought I'd wait another year before putting another album out there trying to sail on the sinking CD market. But ironically, in the midst of the decline of the CD empire my own sales are going up. Explain that? I've always bucked the trend although honestly that was never my intention.

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2008: On My Knees On My Feet On My Cover

Well here's to a great 2008 ... and that rhymes. But this new year has not come as a step up the latter this year and I wonder why. Has my life taken on some kind of recurring rhythm, a plateau of small changes as I settle into my artistic middle age? A duo tour of Spain each January followed by a new album and then a birthday show at New Morning in Paris in March has become the Murphy method for starting the new year right.

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September Song - September 30, 2007

This weekend I was supposed to go to my 40th High School Reunion which was held out on Long Island, New York near where I grew up in Garden City. I didn't make it. Not that I didn't want to go and live in the escapist land of déjà vu sleepwalking for a few days, seeing those same faces I walked the school halls with suddenly reappear but I had, as Robert Frost said, miles to go before I sleep...

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As Hot As The 14th Of July - July 2007

The French celebrate Bastille Day on the 14th of July like Americans do Independence Day on the 4th of July. Always seemed like more then a coincidence to me that revolutionary fervor gripped both these peoples in the hottest of times. But these two countries – one I was born in and the other I live in – celebrate nothing less then dark, glorious, bloody revolution every summer and both with a plethora of fireworks, which no matter how exciting they may be basically simulate the sounds, and lights of bombs bursting in air and blowing everything and everybody to smithereens.

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Not Dark Yet - February 5, 2007

As Bob Dylan says in "Not Dark Yet," "Can't even remember what I came here to get away from..." and I feel kind of that same way about my life as an expatriate in Paris these past 17 years. In fact, this year is significant because it marks the time when I will have lived longer in Paris then I did in New York City. I'm a fool for love but also for numbers - everyone knows that beneath the romantic musician lives a stone cold mathematician - so I'm always adding things up, figuring them out, trying to balance it out.

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Message From Santa Elliott - Christmas 2006

Ho! Ho! Home Again! Well, its finally getting a little frosty up here on the North Pole of Paris and I'm wrapping presents for both the naughty and nice and thinking about this past year and all the shows I've played and all the fine people I've met and how much I have to be grateful for. I'm especially thankful for my musical partner and guitarist extraordinaire Olivier Durand who has always stood by my side through thick and thin.

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Coming Home Again … Soon - October 22, 2006

Today I take the train to Le Havre to continue working on the mixes of my new album Coming Home Again. I'll be working with Florent Barbier my trustworthy engineer and, of course, Olivier Durand who helps with the creative decisions along the way. Its been a long road as we started recording new material as much as two years ago. The most difficult part is to decide which songs to include and which songs to keep sleeping...

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Summertime... - June 20, 2006

For me the summer began on the 10th of May when I sang the folk standard "Buffalo Gals" with Bruce Springsteen and his incredible 18 piece (I think) Seeger Sessions dixieland & folk orchestra (my description). Great, great concert and from the incredible reaction at Bercy arena in Paris you would have thought that Bruce was singing his greatest hits with the E-Street Band. My old pal Garland Jeffries was on stage with me as well and we were both touched by Bruce's generous introduction before we came onstage when he referred to us as "blood brothers" (in French!) and said it was an honor to share the stage with us. And truly the honor was ours as well. The three of us all share such common roots: geographically, culturally and musically and there is a wonderful and warm sense of friendship that surrounds us. I first met Bruce Springsteen after a very early show of his at Max's Kansas City in New York in 1972 and it was also in Max's that I would hear Garland Jeffrey's "Wild In The Street" played constantly on the club jukebox. Amazing to think that we're talking about events from 35 years ago! And yet the music we all made back then continues to beat in our own hearts and so many others. And yet I still feel the best is yet to come ...

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Tomorrow - March 7, 2006

Tomorrow, my virtuoso guitarist Olivier Durand will pick me up around noon in a rented Citroen Sedan after driving down to Paris from his hometown of Le Havre and I'll throw my suitcase, gig bag and Taylor guitar into the trunk and we will drive east to Strasbourg – about 4 1/2 hours – and play that night at the Laiterie, where I've played before. Along the way we'll stop to eat something and probably won't talk too much during the meal and then I'll drive for a while and we'll listen to Dylan and the Stones and Tom Waits in the car and try to find a political argument although its getting more and more difficult as we're both basically on the same side. Then the day after that, we're off to Germany for 9 shows in 10 days and I hope my voice will hold up. I'll bring along some special tea my wife recommends and some homeopathic medicine and I'll try to keep the shows down to an hour and a half and I hope the fans will understand ... and I hope I'll be able to stop myself from not going on for three hours or more. Because once I get started ...

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Change Will Come - January 20, 2006

Just back from five sold out shows in Spain with Olivier Durand, and we played for over two and half hours each nigh. I can still see the faces of the fans in the front row. They’re my inspiration and my motivation to do something special each night – they look at me and I just want to do the best I can for them. Its magic! And now just as one year of touring ends another begins so quickly for us. It seems just yesterday that I was saying something about this being our last show of 2005 and now I was saying these are our first shows of 2006! Everything changes – everything stays the same. What will change?

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Better Days - July 2005

"Better Days" has always meant so much to me as a great song and a philosophy for life. I clearly remember the first time I heard it on the radio when it was released as the first (I think) single from the Lucky Town/Human Touch double album release and aside from just loving the groove of the track I thought my friend Bruce really sounded contented and on a personal level that was really rewarding. I sang "Better Days" for the Light Of Day benefit album that was put together by Sal Trepat and Bob Benjamin and then I presented the CD to Bruce before his show with the E Street band in Madrid a few years ago.

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