Last Of The Rock Stars

Dusty Roses Records

Record Details

2001
Genre:
Rock
Elliott Murphy - Last Of The Rock Stars

Live album recorded in Spain.

Tracklist

  1. Last of the Rock Stars -:-- / 4:22
  2. Little Red Roaster -:-- / 3:45
  3. Take Your Love Away -:-- / 4:31
  4. Hard Core -:-- / 4:13
  5. Drive All Night -:-- / 5:14
  6. Somebodies Anniversary -:-- / 5:09
  7. Caught Short in the Long Run -:-- / 5:19
  8. Diamonds By the Yard -:-- / 6:16
  9. Put it Down -:-- / 10:24
  10. Hollywood -:-- / 4:19
  11. Rock Ballad -:-- / 7:18
  12. Party Girls And Broken Poets -:-- / 7:10
  13. Thirty Was a Long Time Ago -:-- / 4:41
  14. Last of the Rock Stars -:-- / 4:24
  15. On Elvis Presley’s Birthday -:-- / 5:36
  16. I Wish I Was Picasso -:-- / 3:51
  17. Caught Short in the Long Run -:-- / 4:52
  18. Blind Willie Mctell -:-- / 7:29
  19. Anastasia -:-- / 5:24
  20. Dusty Roses -:-- / 4:47
  21. Change Will Come -:-- / 4:40
  22. Cortez the Killer -:-- / 6:09

LAST OF THE ROCK STARS

Naked telephone poles can’t describe
The way I’m feeling about you tonight
And a feeling on my back like an old brown jacket
Like to stay in school but I just can’t hack it
And I’m out on the street feeling like dirt
I’m afraid to get married because I know its gonna hurt
And I say

Oh oh oh – there’s the last of the rock stars
And me and you
Oh oh oh – rock ‘n roll is here to stay
But who will be left to play

Well I dreamed I saw the king in a fifty three chevy
Had a band on his mind and his hands looked heavy
And he rolled down his window I guess to say hi
I couldn’t see his face ’cause of the purple haze inside
And he was born to be the king – he was born to be the man
And he died though he was holy – although I doubt he’d understand
When I say

(chorus)

Adolescent predrug habit – if it means guitar you gotta have it
And you got your axe and you got your group
And your old man thinks its a waste of loot
And you wait all week for a Sullivan show
And you know that’s just where you wanna go
And you homework now is never complete
You don’t care – cause you have got that beat

So a highdy hi and a heydy hey
And a girls that home on Friday night and a boy that’s out to play
And some of us are masters and some or us are slaves
And than there’s that boy who knows he’s gotta play
And a messy desk drawer full of broken strings
You know these kids and you know of those things

(chorus)

Come on mama please don’t cry
Don’t you know how I feel inside

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TAKE YOUR LOVE AWAY

WELL I CAME DOWN HARD LIKE A LEAD BALLOON
WITH A HEAVY METAL BAND IN A PADDED ROOM
DONT YOU KNOW BABY JIMI HENDRIX SAID IT ALL
WHEN YOU’RE BANGING POWER CHORDS ON YOUR OLD LES PAUL

OOOH ALL RIGHT
OOOH AHHH EVERYBODYS GOING OUT TONIGHT
BABY TAKE YOUR LOVE AWAY

SHE GOT AN UPTOWN WALK WITH A DOWNTOWN STYLE
WHEN SHE GETS UNDER THE COVERS
I SAID STAY THERE FOR A WHILE
IN A CIRCUS TENT I’M DOWN ON MY KNEES
SWINGING RIGHT ABOVE ME IS THE GIRL ON THE TRAPEZE

OOOH ALL RIGHT
OOOH AHHH EVERYBODYS GOING OUT TONIGHT
BABY TAKE YOUR LOVE AWAY

I CAN SEE THE WATER
I CAN SEE THE LAND
I CAN FEEL THE FIRE BURNING IN MY VERY HAND
SOMETIMES HE’S A WOMAN AND SHE’S A MAN
THEY GOT FEELINGS THAT THEY JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND

OOOH ALL RIGHT
OOOH AHHH EVERYBODYS GOING OUT TONIGHT
BABY TAKE YOUR LOVE AWAY

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HARD CORE

There was some kinda party going down in Paradise
When everybody got hungry – doesn’t that food look nice
So they ate the apple – right down to the core
Adam turned to Eve – and he called her a whore

Hard Core – we see everything and nothing
But its nothing – I didn’t see before
Hard Core – when I press your flesh beside me
Show me what love is for

I bought love for money – I traded love for hate
I traded trust for suspicion – big time mistake
Gimme your hand – let me take it in mine
We’ll take a chance on the real thing – one last time

Chorus

And I like what you like and you’re right and just what I’m looking for
Is it alright to touch you and just you
Can stop what I’m looking for
Closing all my other doors

Let’s get out of the garden – Its getting late
Hurry up – they’re shutting the gate

Chorus

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DRIVE ALL NIGHT

Oh won’t you be my night connection
I’ll give you true highway affection
Please don’t ask where we’re goin’
I’m tryin’ to race the light
And we can drive all night drive all night
We got what’s left and we got what’s right
Drive all night

I never liked where we came from
And I tried to fight
We need development rearrangement
We need some dynamite
But if you’ll be my reflection
We’ll let our memories die
And we can drive all night
Drive all night
We got what’s left and we got what’s right
Drive all night

We’ll hit the coast in a T bird called Teenage
We’re heading out for a psychologically clean age
And if they stop us and ask where you goin’
We’ll tell them we’re going through

Oh won’t you be my night connection drive all night
Oh give me soul map correction drive all night
And if the sun starts to catch us
We’ll paint the windows black
And we can drive all night drive all night
We got what’s left and we got what’s right drive all night

Now you know what it feels like on a hot Sunday night
When you just can’t go home cause things aren’t quite right
So we sneak into your house; but it’s the wrong one
Cause they all look the same; this town’s just no fun

But we finally get it right and if your daddy knew he’d kill
Cause we just stole the key to his brand new Coupe de Ville
And we hit that highway about a hundred and one
And I hear this funny noise, man they’re tryin’ to spoil our fun

Drive all night

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SOMEBODIES ANNIVERSARY

It would have been sixteen years today
You’re asking whose counting anyway
The world can be cruel for a while
And play you for a fool if you smile
That’s the way

See the little houses in a row
Which one was ours I don’t know
I keep waiting for a sign
From a guardian angel I left behind

And we will fly above this city into the night
Swooping down with the pigeons on the occasional light
Until we stop…

Hey baby is it raining outside
Should I grab an umbrella or can we just hide
Is there a reason that I feel this way
Everyday’s somebodies anniversary
You know why

She draw me a card from Community Chest
A long day of monopoly that would be best
While some build houses on Marvin Gardens
Boardwalk hotels you can pour your heart in

(Chorus)

Well I can get down in the afternoon
I feel my blood sugar dropping like a needle in a spoon
But come the twilight I’ll be recharging
And I’ll be howling when the moon is rising

(Chorus)

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CAUGHT SHORT IN THE LONG RUN

Roll down your window
Your crying’s got everything steamed.
Roll down your window
It’s not as desperate as you make it seem
You’re so young to have seen it
And now your vision is much too old and much too clear
You know I’m friends with that darkness you’ve been seeing
We dated once or twice in earlier years
And I know that you’re trying
And believe me I know that it’s tough
But I’ve seen you when you’re dancing with the children
Skip ahead to the lighter stuff

And tonight when they come I’ll say they can’t see you no more
Cause they’ll draw out your life through a fine silver straw
And if I was a hero I would have fought them off at your door

And you thinking of your family
And your thinking it’s been much too long
Because you need some of their innocence and their order
But that medicine is much too strong
And we’re holding so tight and we’re falling
And the funny thing is both are just the same
You know freedom will find its own amusement
And it looks like we’ve found a waiting game
So you torture yourself for that moment
When the only thing left is to feet
You know romantics may run free in the darkness
But come the light, they’re the first to kneel

And tonight when they come I’ll say they can’t see you no more
Cause they’ll draw out your life through a fine silver straw
And if I was a hero I would have fought them off at your door
But the lines we have drawn and the sides we have chose
And my own indecision how badly that shows

And, God damn, if I was a hero I would have kept our little world closed

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DIAMONDS BY THE YARD

As I lay down with my lady
The sounds of the night keep me warm
I’m living a city life – I’m living maybe
But tonight there’s no reason to be strong

Romantic poets guard the darkness
My my all at such an early age
An old man sheds a tear
He opens a little gold locket
He thought his little girl was lost in an Indian raid

Somewhere in these night lights lies the answer
And you can get diamonds by the yard
A tiffany dream – A porcelain dancer
An old man playing blues guitar

(Chorus:)
Midnight I surrender
I live beneath your ancient spell
You’ve been my lover since I can’t remember
You save my life with the stories you tell

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PUT IT DOWN

You can lie like a television baby flying innocent like a blue eyed dove
You can stand by a fountain with your landlord pitching coins but it ain’t gonna bring you luck – Cause I will know where you are and why and how and whatever that behavior well it really sucks – But the time we were young – was the time when my passion was on the run – And the time we were young – oh well now our love seems to be all eaten up – Put it down

The elite troopers of the harmonica commandos – they were marching to the John Sousa band – And I knew we was somewhere to the west of never never never never never never neverland – I saw no snow on the mountains but I knew the iceman he was coming anyway – But that’s another story for a rainy day – That’s another set of rules for another game I’m gonna play – Put it down

Well I was resting and I picked up a magazine in the restroom and I opened it to the page it was opened to before – There was a picture of a crying Spanish painter he was standing in a barroom full of whores
But his model she was nowhere to be seen cause she died just a year before – drinking absinthe on the quai with an African named Louis Amour
drinking absinthe on the Quai D’Orsay with an African named Louis Amour – that’s right

So I rode into the galleria and I went to my favorite toyshop
And I loaded up my BB gun so when I saw that lamppost I could give it a good shot – You know I missed by a mile or three – Although the truth was I wouldn’t have broken it if I could – The truth was my heart was already cracked although no one could see – Yeah the truth was my bulb was burned out and there was absolutely no life, no light left inside me
Hmmm…

So I went down by the frontier watching the troops in black silk skate past – I was sipping ginger ale and a near beer at the Martinez and I knew these good times couldn’t last – There was some kinda demonstration gong on down in the MIDEM market place of sounds
Ah but man I was so out of it I didn’t know if it was laughter or if somebody was about to drown – Yeah I was so completely out of it and my consciousness had just left town

So once again I slipped across the old border when the guards were looking the other way – At a parade of retired revolutionaries – We all raised our hands and said hip hip hooray – And than came the dirty general and his staff – And man they were as infected as can be
When they tried to shake my hand – I said please don’t touch me
So they all put their dress gloves on and said now we’re gonna do it to you for free – That’s right

So I found a shoe that I was comfortable in – It was black – it was soft – it was suede – And I’m gonna walk a thousand miles to your house – if I could just get out of the Lincoln brigade – See I had misplaced ideals – they were lost in the sixties or before – And the present was changing so rapidly and the future was already a bore – Yeah things were changing so fast but even Bill Gates couldn’t tell me what for – That’s right

So you better change your eyeglasses you better change your underwear
But I won’t change my mind – Because now I’m trying to be nice to you but you’re gonna wait till the very next time – When I’m gonna tell you what I really think – I’m a gonna pull no punches at all – And like the true sportsman that I’ve always been I’m gonna say I’m gonna pass the ball
And the stadium will rise in a grand unison and we’re gonna watch you take a fall – Ah that’s all…that’s all

Now can you tell me why they make the telephone books yellow – Why they make the toilettes white – Can you tell me who’s been screeching tires around my corner when it’s the middle of the night – And why I am alone again – But why am I at peace – Is it just that lonesome Hurricane weather ah but the season is so brief – When the barometric pressure it allows my good pants to finally keep a crease – Oh mama…

You know I’ve stayed in this motel before perhaps in this very same room
I think we slept together in this queen-sized bed together under the silver golden anniversary moon – And there was still some kinda mystery back then – Ah that’s what I liked about you – Back when I was a detective – you were my own best clue – But the case it was never really solved – Because you alibi so quickly fell through – That’s right fell through

Now that’s eleven verses – It’s after midnight and I gotta go – I gotta pack my bags tonight – Cause tomorrow the morning comes so bright and early and so bright – And I wonder who am I singing to – When there’s just me and the carpet and the wall – Its the rainy season of my memory – I hear drops of recollections leaking down the hall – And a memory you gotta put it down so gently cause it will drop if you let it fall – Ah its the rainy season of my memory and I’m just gonna let it all fall Put It Down

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HOLLYWOOD

I remember when you were on the farm
Dreaming about Andy Warhol
Wo ho ho Getting felt up in the barn
Wondering if that’s moral
But hey look at you now
You’ve got everything that a girl could want
You’ve got high heel slippers baby but that’s all right

Hollywood
Hollywood

You shaped my life with Technicolor carving knife and
Now I don’t know what to feel
All my emotions are wrapped up reel to reel

You know you turned me around stuck my face in the ground
When I sat down on Garbo’s sofa
And I like some James Dean clown that you can make laugh
or frown – I just want to know when it’s over
But hey look at me now you know just can’t find nothing real
And the movies are all outside baby but that’s all right

Hollywood
Hollywood
You gave me the best I got this
Soundtrack of violence and sex
and
Now I don’t know who to be
Cause every time I look in the
mirror I see some movie star
You know it just doesn’t look
like me

And us rebel’s got too many causes
But that’s all right
And I can’t find a happy ending
But that’s all right
And like Jimi said ‘There just ain’t no life nowhere”
But that’s all right
Hollywood – Hollywood – Hollywood

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ROCK BALLAD

When the moon was just right
We could turn off the light and just listen
And we’d pray to the night
And we’d hold on so tight
You could hear crystal stars as they’d glisten

Lovers in vain
Like to walk in the rain
Like to hear distant trains emotion
And the late radio
We would play it so low
No one must know this devotion

Rock ballad – Rock ballad
You know baby and I used to listen all night long
To the real slow song -Till the tears were gone

And these jobs and these schools
Teach romance is for fools
And the dream always ends upon waking
And we all kept our cool like a hustler shoot pool
And soon your whole life is spent faking

Cause to try is to fail
And as the wind left your sails
All you heard was the sound of their laughter
But I was running so fast
With the wind racing past
All I heard was a voice say “go after her”

CHORUS

And these soul clarinets
And the feelings we get
It’s the songs of regret I remember
And we placed our last bet
On loves long shot request
As they spun the roulette that September

Now let’s all raise our glass
For a drink to the past
And a drink to the last chance taken
And let’s drink once again to our long lost friends
No, we can’t let it end the surf’s breaking

Rock ballad
Rock ballad

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PARTY GIRLS AND BROKEN POETS

From the peninsula we stare across the bay
From the peninsula we talk of yesterday
Of the parties that are over – And who the midnight boys took home
And now I sit and watch street walkers – standing next to a pay phone

She took a moonlight swim – She glides across the bay
We took a motorcar – Said we’d meet you half way
And we waited for an hour – And they searched the whole next day
But they never found nobody – Some parties just end up that way

When you go out with a bad girl – You do things you thought you wouldn’t do
When you go out with a bad boy – You do things you thought you couldn’t do
You thought you wouldn’t do

Like a crystal ship, the poets words will stay
Like a teenage nymph, he gave too much away
They use to find him in the morning
With his head held in his hands – And he’d be crying about Lolita
He said is anybody gonna understand
He’d talk of Indians – He said they never lost their way
But with us white men – The magic can just fade away
Some say the opium drove him crazy
Some say the Beaujolais drove him insane
But there’s an Indian girl named Lolita – dancing in Mexico in steaming rain

CHORUS

There’s not a word of truth – in anything I say
But I can’t tell a lie – I was brought up that way
All these stories have no meaning – Except for what you can see
Of party girls and broken poets – They’re not too different from you and me.

CHORUS

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THIRTY WAS A LONG TIME AGO

They’re giving million dollar deals – Teaching children how to steal
The next big thing is small and low – From the rooftops I can’t see
What’s coming over me – Thirty was a long time ago –
Thirty was a long time ago

I grew up on the charts – You can’t stop what you didn’t start
Blood and money run on the streets of old Soho
And queen jealousy she reigns – From Manchester down to Spain
Thirty was a long time ago – Thirty was a long time ago

Making love was once a dream that would never happen or so it seemed
Now Cupid’s gone old and lost his bow – And women half my age
They’re lying naked on the page
Thirty was a long time ago – Thirty was a long time ago

Dreams of wealth and fame you can predict it just like rain
I never did find my own chateau – But that’s all right I guess
I count my blessings – I forget the rest
Thirty was a long time ago – Thirty was a long time ago

The meaning of rock ‘n roll – That’s all been lost or so I’m told
Better not tell Fats Domino – It’s a huge industry now
Just another corporate cash cow
Thirty was a long time ago – Thirty was a long time ago

One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor
Whatever you got you’re gonna want some more
When I was out of money I had plenty of time
Now I’m paying for every damn minute that I’m on the line

The telephone rings every time I try to sing
Think I better move to Idaho – And we measure our lives
In our Levis waist size – Thirty was a long time ago –
Thirty was a long time ago

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ON ELVIS PRESLEY’S BIRTHDAY

I can’t say that I love this place where I live
This particular geographic location
But I’ve grown use to it and now I miss it when I’m away
Of course, when I was a child my father would take me with him
Down to the bowery where the bums were
And in the restaurant supply stores
He would buy shiny steel refrigerators and deadly looking stoves
While I begged him to take me to the army navy surplus stores on canal street
To buy some big dead bullets

He wore a short corduroy jacket, an informal hat with a puff of feather
And he talked with his hands in his pants pockets jangling change

Driving in his Cadillac it was Elvis Presley’s birthday
They said it on the radio and my father liked Elvis
And it was wonderful – it was wonderful
We drove through the black neighborhoods on Long Island’s north shore when Elvis was alive

My father was from Brooklyn and the depression left its mark
From picking up coal on the railroad tracks
He didn’t have a good word to say about Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Later, I liked elegant hotel bars
Where I could drink under F. Scott Fitzgerald skies
The coolest of the cool
Never a child on Elvis Presley’s birthday
My dead father jangling change

This is an unreal city
You can be anybody you want to be
When you’re alone

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I WISH I WAS PICASSO

I wish I was Picasso so I could paint a portrait of you
And the world would see you as I do
With your pretty smile
Brown brown eyes
Just like Mona Lisa in the Louvre

If I was the ocean
I would cover every part of you
When you dive into me
With your so soft skin
Black black hair
I’m the wave that’s gonna take you to my sea

If I was in St Louis I would stand under the arc
Of the great wide Mississippi
Watching that river flow
To the Gulf of Mexico
That’s how strong I long for
That’s how strong I long for
That’s how strong I long for
You to be next to me

I wish I was Picasso
Mmmm…

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ANASTASIA

Anastasia please come home, your family’s on the telephone
They know they left you all alone with your royalty
Oh and Anastasia you did nothing wrong
Your biggest sin was just being born
Aristocracy is like a crown of thorns it takes believers

Anastasia where can we go
The border guards they don’t want to know
We need some time to relax and slow things down
And Anastasia I know what you mean
The revolution took away our dreams
Took away our fantasies gave us sewing machines
And the noise

And the jewels and the lights of those winter nights
And a little girl’s eyes oh so wide
I’m not saying they were wrong to fight
But I know they were wrong to despise
Just the joy in a little girl’s eyes

Anastasia please come home
Your daddy the czar is on the telephone
His little girl so lost and alone
It makes him cry

Oh and Anastasia if he only knew
I know he’d throw it away just to be with you
Just a family man that’s nothing new
No reason to die

CHORUS

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DUSTY ROSES

Trying my best to walk straight in a row
Feeling just like Edgar Allen Poe
And wishing I had someplace good to go
It was election time
Streetlights were out – the bars they were closed
And I’m saying to myself
Elliott , its just not the ending I chose
And the Statue of Liberty
Looks out to sea – says who knows
Maybe tomorrow – maybe tomorrow

And she said: I don’t want your dusty roses
I can’t stand when you mix beauty with tragedy
And she said: I don’t want your Dusty Roses
There’s just no place in the life of a girl like me

We could take courses we could brush up on our French
Move to Paris try and live like artists
I was gonna say more and then I forgot all the rest
Sometimes that’s better
And even I’m betting bored seeing sunrise
Thinking of everything I’d like to buy
And me and my friends got much too high
But I don’t blame them
No, I don’t blame them
CHORUS

Just no place in the life a girl like me
Ain’t no place in the life of that lady

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CHANGE WILL COME

We’re so East Coast – So here’s a toast
So here’s to everything that I wanted the most – the most
And baby now – it’s over now
I’m just sitting here though I’ll stand up somehow – stand up somehow

I’ve got a date with a diamond ring
The tramps in the alley watch her shake that thing
I say its all right mama – Its all right now
I never really wanted any of it anyhow

And Oh Oh – A Change Will Come
Oh Oh – A Change Will Come

We were so New York – a silver spoon a plastic fork
We wanted everything – we wanted a little bit more
Give me some more
Can you see – It’s hard to see
She said I’m looking for a lover
He said don’t take a look at me – Look at me

I’ve got a date with a diamond ring
The tramps in the alley watch her shaking that thing
I say its all right mama – Its all right now
I never really wanted any of it anyhow and

And Oh Oh – A Change Will Come
Oh Oh – A Change Will Come

I say its all right mama – Its all right now
I never really wanted any of it anyhow
I say its all right mama – Its all right now
I just couldn’t stand anymore no how

And Oh Oh – A Change Will Come
Oh Oh – A Change Will Come

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All Songs by Elliott Murphy ©Elliott Murphy
Except “Little Red Rooster” by Willie Dixon, “Blind Willie McTell” by Bob Dylan and “Cortez The Killer” by Neil Young – Lyrics Reprinted by Permission

Liner Notes

Step One – The Band

The hardest thing is picking the songs and making your set list which becomes the road map for the evening’s journey and than there’s all the little things: making sure the guitar stays in tune and trying not to break strings and picking the right harmonica and singing close to the microphone of course, remembering the words to the songs which is really a bitch, let me tell you. Some of these songs I’ve played hundred and even thousand times. “Last Of The Rock Stars” still inspires me as it captures all my rock ‘n roll dreams and reunites me with that original passion (or original sin depending on your point of view) and speaking of sin I’m so happy to finally be old enough to sing “Little Red Rooster” a dirty blues song if ever there was one. I tried to sing it non-blues as I never felt comfortable imitating the accent of Muddy Waters or anybody else. What am I anyway? Mid-Atlantic singer-songwriter? Post war poet? Third Generation rock n roll? Or is it folk? Your guess is as good as mine. Doesn’t mention any of these things on my birth certificate but I was born in “Mercy” hospital in “Rockville Center” so I never had to pay any gypsy to read my fortune and tell me my future because I always knew it would be on a stage somewhere with a guitar strapped over my shoulder and a memory coming out of my mouth right into the microphone ladies and gentleman!

But I’m getting ahead of myself because I suppose I should speak about the band who made up this particular tour of Spain, my first band tour this century anywhere on this sweet old world: So there was me obviously playing my Guild electro-acoustic and Lee Oskar Harmonicas and than there was Ernie Brooks playing his big ol’ Guild Acoustic Bass Guitar which should be louder than it is on this CD (sorry Ernie!) but that’s what makes this 2 CD set special in that it really is live and “Take Your Love Away” proves that as Olivier and I sing out in various positions from the microphone. Olivier Durand, by the way is a Frenchman by way of Le Havre who has been playing with me for 5 years or more and does things on his acoustic Takemine guitar which would make Jimi Hendrix smile (I think) and was joined on this tour by fellow compatriot Florent Barbier also from Le Havre who mixed my album Rainy Season and played on some of it and is a great drummer, steady as a ticking Swiss watch and throwing his sticks in the air when the audience deserves it. And than on the organ, piano, accordion and porkpie hat was Kenny Margolis who I have known for years and was a member of Mink Deville and really knows how to play the Hammond B-3 and his accordion can make you cry. And he bought it at Accordionorama in New York City by the way. Kenny rarely smiles but he assures me he’s having a good time anyway.

“Hard Core” was written in New York City after a stroll through Times Square (which has now turned into something like Disneyland) and is the first song of mine with a biblical reference (Senor Serpent’s friend Eve of the big appetite and Mr. Adam who couldn’t make up his own mind when it came time to ordering from the Paradise Diner menu) and trying to put Love and Sex in some kind of holy place where they belong and deserve. Than everyone leaves the stage except me and gets a chance to have a drink in the dressing room while I try to psyche myself into “Drive All Night” again and make it new again and usually – like with most of the songs – I’m thinking of how the song came to life and where I was and what I was suffering from when I wrote it: lost love, disillusionment, lust or not finding anything to watch on TV although most times it’s a combination of all of the above. Sometimes, I’m thinking about the time right after I graduated High School when I was riding on the Jones Beach beach drive with my friends Chuck Phinney (who taught me how to play blues harp) and David Greene (who was some kinda genius) and we were in my Dad’s maroon Cadillac Eldorado which was one of the only things left of him after he left this world for good and it was 1967 and we were stoned on something strong for the time and we got that big old V-8 up to 100mph (about 160kph for you Europeans) and that old caddy was shaking like a son of a bitch and we were listening to Paul Butterfield singing how he got his mojo working while we were trying to find our own somewhere under the dark Long Island skies and… we survived which has been the story of my life, so far. Than Olivier Durand comes up and we do “Somebodies Anniversary” together which is a song about longing and melancholy for a world I never knew or the next life, which will be even sweeter. The needle and spoon line is strictly allegorical but I do get so down in the afternoon and don’t know why. Maybe that’s why Spain suits me so well because I’m a siesta man at heart. There’s something about singing a song live to real people which defies gravity and we swoop down on the occasional lights during this one, yes indeed.

“Caught Short In The Long Run” came back after years and years of unexplained absence; maybe it’s a reawakening of my own romanticism, which was always threatened by a deeply ingrained cynicism but I still have faith, yes I do. And even though it’s a different Elliott who sings this now than the one who wrote it back in Quogue in 1976, I still think of someone special, every night. Kenny’s organ is majestic don’t you agree? And Olivier sings like he believes it. Ernie might have played this song with me back in the early 80’s and I wonder how we two have changed? Nearly thirty years on the road and what have we learned? That we know nothing that the fans can’t teach us again and again night after night? Ernie is not so audible on this album but I can tell you it would not have been the same without it. He was the heartbeat and authenticity we all followed even if he did make a lot of noise each time he plugged in that damn bass. Listen to the clapping during the intro of “Diamonds By The Yard” and know that I’m thinking of Ben E. King singing “Spanish Harlem” or Bob Dylan singing “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” and its all about giving up and holding on and believing in something totally unbelievable. Wrote most of this while watching The Searchers on TV which is what the second verse is all about. Jorge asked me to strap on the Telecaster for this and I did and I hope I don’t disappoint. There came a moment some years ago when I got bored with the electric guitar – too many guitar heroes posing on MTV for my taste – and I brought it down a notch to save my poor ears too and went mainly acoustic. But the day may come again when we will rise and seize that electricity and make it our own once more as it once was.

I would have preferred to call this album “Elliott Murphy and the Elite Troopers of the Harmonica Commandos” and maybe someday I will even if it is a mouthful. I always thought most successful rock stars had three syllable names and maybe if I would have kept my childhood nickname of Jim I’d be writing these notes from a Castle somewhere in the South of France or from a penthouse in New York or a beachouse in Malibu. But then what would I be writing about? Problems with my servants? My kids private schools? My investments gone bad? Good songs are rarely written in good hotels and “Put It Down” was written in Toulouse which is called the Rose City and I’m sure that there were only three stars on the hotel I was in while I jotted these eleven verses on the back page of my Herald Tribune. And probably the last star of that hotel was as burned out as I was. What I need next Christmas dear Santa Claus is a Teleprompter with all the lyrics to all my songs right in front of my fading eyes but until that day comes I lay a “cheat sheet” on the floor next to my microphone stand with the first few words of each of the eleven verse to kick-start me through each stanza. Is that cheating? I don’t think so. I like the line about the “…dirty general and his staff…” ever since Jimena told me it was her favorite line of the song and its fitting I should be singing about the Lincoln Brigade down in Spain don’t you think? And I put Bill Gates in a song so I think he should send me at the very least ten million dollars so I can add strings and horns and backup singers and a grand tour bus and keep putting it down as long as my skinny legs keep holding me upright.

God, I almost went “Hollywood” you know back in the early 70’s when they were calling me the next big thing and I was riding in Beverly Hills in a T-Bird and listening to the Eagles (“Lying Eyes” still brings a tear to my eye) and Paul Rothschild was pulling the Doors master tapes out of the vault at Elektra studios where we were recording Lost Generation and “Hello I Love You” sounded so damn good on those big studio speakers; like Jim was riding a herd of mammoths right down Sunset Strip and singing through a megaphone. And I was living at the luxurious Beverly Hills Hotel where I bumped into Liz Taylor and tried just to look into her violet eyes and Paul Rothschild told me that Jim Morrison had lived in a motel with no phone so who the fuck did I think I was? Scott Fitzgerald? And I still don’t know but Jim’s myth is still alive but he’s not and me it’s the opposite… I think. Don’t you love Kenny’s organ solo? Right out of church although I doubt he spends a lot of time there. Haven’t played this one live in a long time, brother, although I sure have played “Rock Ballad” plenty of times and probably will keep doing it as long as the “moon is just right and we can turn out the lights and just listen.” No one must know this devotion or do they? Olivier sings like a choir boy and plays guitar like the devil’s disciple.


Tell me why do some songs last and others don’t? They come with no expiration date like canned fruit or donuts and I don’t know really and I can’t say that some are more heartfelt than others but its just that sometimes you’re painting on a big canvas and you don’t know it until they hang it in the museum of your mind. I think they last as long as you believe in them. Like Dorothy’s red slippers in the Wizard of Oz, I suppose. But this ain’t Kansas, this is Bilbao and Florent really beats big time on this one and carries a lot of weight for a man who keeps his bones fairly light.

There were other things about this tour that are not on the CD – no one records the soundchecks and all the frustration that goes into them and our crew – especially our soundman/ladysman Patche – really did an exceptional job of getting us on and off stage with no major train wrecks. And having the Otero brothers – Jorge and Javi open up – came to be a moment all the band treasured each and every night. And when it came time to play “Party Girls And Broken Poets” I never knew what would happen, honestly. Would I go into “Gloria” or “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” or would I let it stand on its own. The covers I play live are as much a part of my life, my rock ‘n roll nirvana, as my own songs and so I keep doing them but if you want to hear me sing Runaround Sue or Runaway you’re gonna have to come to my next show. I think I strapped on the electric for “Party Girls” as well and I gotta apologise again to Ernie for drowning out most of his bass solo on the band intro but you can appreciate the subtlety of the Nijinsky of the Bass, can’t you?

I can’t thank Jorge Otter enough for putting this band tour together and insisting I go on with it. I think I can remember the night he called me up in a fit of excitement and said “Elliott baby, I got two words for you – Band Tour!”

Step Two – The Trio

Never did this before; it was either just me or me and Olivier or with a band but we needed to go back to Spain and we needed something more that just six strings of guitar times two. If it was just gonna be an additional piano I probably would have been against it but the idea of accordion which like the guitar you play standing up with a strap over your shoulder made sense; three guys standing up on stage and hoping that their backs won’t give out and that their shoes were shined. And Kenny Margolis has been known to wear a hat or two on stage as well and seems to be able by some kinda magic to make his accordion sound like an full grown Hammond organ. So we moved again against all odds wondering if people would say where’s the drums? Where’s the bass? But nobody said that, they only said Where’s Elliott when I was late leaving the hotel for soundcheck.

“Thirty Was A Long Time Ago” is a good opening number for me because it puts my voice and head in the right place; reminds me what I’m there for even if my Levi’s still are size 30, thank god. And songs should be able to grow and this is LAST OF THE ROCK STARS version 2001 which I brought down a few keys and with more impatience in the rhythm as time runs out. Olivier and I started playing it like this a while n a while ago when we refused the let the song die and it seems to work, this new rhythm and give the song new legs to walk on, go forward, now even with the promise of a new century beckoning.

“On Elvis Presley’s Birthday” was barely born when I recorded it on “12” about a decade ago and it has evolved so much during live performances which is what should happen to all songs. Everything I wrote in here is true, as true as memory and pain and joy can be. All art is about love and loss I suppose although I never want to admit that because I wonder if my life will be less painful if I know that I won’t have to write songs about it. When I begin this song I take a deep breath and face the music, again. Two songs with great 20th Century men in the titles: Elvis and “I Wish I Was Picasso” which I wrote in San Sebastian overlooking a balcony and a dream. The last verse about Saint Louis is funny, so far from Spain and yet I suppose in some sense the waters from the upper Mississippi which flows there do touch the sands of the beach at San Sebastian. Some fans say that “Caught Short In The Long Run” is the best song I ever wrote and I don’t know if that’s true but I seem to be able to sing it live with all the conviction of a true romantic and a failed realist. I love Olivier’s harmony and his symphonic guitar on the outtake and the high keys of Kenny’s piano just sitting there motionless like distant stars.

I’ve sang a lot of Bob Dylan songs in my life and “Blind Willie McTell” came to life as naturally as the flooding of the river onto the delta plains. I recorded it on La Terre Commune, the duo album I made with Iain Matthews, but that was a softer more insular version and this live take is the way I usually do it. The accordion is wonderful isn’t it? And when Kenny kicks in on the piano there’s a sense of urgency and Fats Waller and New Orleans Bordellos right before closing time if there ever is such a thing. If I had it to do over again I probably should have started out as an acoustic act and than worked my way up so that by today I would have a full blown band at my side. But all my bands have disappeared like smoke in the wind: some of them memorable (the Night Lights band with Jerry Harrison and Andy Paley and Ernie) and others are less so (The Just A Story From America band with all those English mercenaries) but something happens when you share a stage with another musician and I have few regrets. And now at this stage of the game to be working with such fine and well-honed players such as Kenny and Oliver and Florent and Ernie is a blessing. Could be the best band I ever had… so far.

I think this was the first time that Kenny Margolis ever played “Anastasia” and I yelled the chords to him as I was running through the intro but he caught on and I’m famous for not rehearsing too much anyway and for pulling old songs out of the wind right in the middle of the show so I guess he was ready for whatever I could throw at him. Someone called for this (or else the hall was haunted that night) and I obeyed which is my job I suppose. I’m a crowd pleaser even if its only one lonely soul. I’ve been told to sing all my songs to the Chinaman in the back row of the balcony who is at his first concert and I hope he will come backstage and introduce himself someday, shake hands, tell me what he want to play the next night. Each time I pick a song its like buying someone a present and you gotta be sure that you’re not buying yourself a present all the time and just playing the songs that you still get off on. You gotta risk the high dives and the long marches if that’s what’s needed as well. “Dusty Roses” is probably the most pure of the New York songs, the one that feels like 3rd Avenue at 6am in the morning after a long night of meaningless conversation and the blue winter sky so far overhead as untouchable as Park Avenue Corporate headquarters. I was listening to Tim Hardin when I wrote the song, one of the greatest and it seems now forgotten New York singer-songwriters. Once I sat in a taxi on my way home to Gramercy Park and I was carrying my guitar and the driver started talking and he was a musician of sorts and an old pal of Hardin, now long gone. Or maybe that was Tim’s ghost driving that taxi, taking me home to write this song.

What I meant was fuck it, with all this fame and rock star bullshit and “Change Will Come” was one of the first post-major label songs I wrote and I meant it as my Declaration of Independence on all kinds of levels both personal and public. Its been a long road since the day I realised that the doors to the limousines were gonna be locked and closed to me for a long time to come but I’ve been so damn lucky and I wouldn’t change my life or my career with anybody else’s and I mean that sincerely with no bitterness, no envy, no denial. Once I asked my wife when I was gonna retire, when I was gonna sit in the shade and start fishing and she said “But blues singers don’t retire,” and she was right. And you stay on the road long enough and that’s what you are: just another man singing his blues, checking in and out of hotels, trying to find the waitress to take your order, looking at all the pretty girls in the audiences, entering that stage like you’re going into the Lion’s den and walking off like the king of the world. Rarely getting enough sleep and always missing breakfast. Its not luxurious but it’s a luxury to be able to live such a life. I look at Neil Young and the example he has set and his incredible body of work, of songs, of performances and his continued commitment to giving his all every night and he keeps going out there although I doubt he needs it to pay the rent. “Cortez The Killer” hurts so deep and feels so good. Its my life and yours too and we all keep moving on this fast moving rocking’ planet even if you think you’re standing still. Fuck, I don’t know if I’m the last of the rock stars and I don’t think I was calling myself that 30 years ago either when I wrote the song. But I’m the last of something, the last of a dream that still lives in me and won’t die and I’m happy to share with anyone who wants to listen. If I have any talent its all a gift and I take no credit for it. But I do work as hard as I can on that stage night after night and I will continue to as long as these guitar strings feel so good and natural on the callused tips on my fingers. And its all of you who keep coming to my shows, I’ve got to thank for that, for giving me the honor of working for you for all those years. Some nights there’s a lot of you and some nights just a handful but the numbers don’t matter, the charts don’t matter; only the years gone and the years to come and all the pleasure you’ve given me for letting me play for you. That’s what’s important and if I could remember that more often I would be a happier man.

This is for the Chinaman in the back row…

Elliott Murphy
11 April, 2001
Rue Beauregard, Paris

This Spanish tour document isn’t the first, second, or even third live album from Elliott Murphy, but it’s the best on several counts. For starters, there’s simply a lot of it: two long discs, the first devoted to performances by a five-man band, the second to shows where only a guitarist and an accordionist/pianist backed Murphy. And the 22 tracks do a fine job of hitting the high points from the artist’s extensive career. The collection opens with the classic “Last of the Rock Stars,” the same track that led off Murphy’s first album in 1973. It also includes standouts from other early- and mid-career discs; some later winners (notably the epic “Put It Down”); and a trio of well-chosen covers from Dylan, Neil Young, and Willie Dixon. Murphy is in fine voice throughout and the band is easily the strongest he’s ever recorded with. The gripes: Two songs appear on both the band and trio CDs, and while the versions differ substantially, you could argue that the space might have been better-used to include even more from Murphy’s huge catalog. Also, the singer still hasn’t corrected the spelling in the title “Somebodies Anniversary.” Oh well. Nobody’s perfect — but Murphy comes close with this album.

Jeff Burger – AllMusic

CDs

Spain:
Dusty Roses Records DR005

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