Night Lights

RCA Records

Record Details

Elliott Murphy - Night Lights

Night Lights is the third major label album by singer-songwriter Elliott Murphy, produced by Steve Katz and recorded at Electric Lady Studio. It was reviewed by Dave Marsh in Rolling Stone where he wrote “In 1973 and 1974 it seemed to many of us in New York that it was a tossup whether Bruce Springsteen, the native poet of the mean streets, or Elliott Murphy, the slumming suburbanite with the ironic eye would became a national hero.” The album featured guest appearances by fellow Long Island native Billy Joel and former Velvet Underground member Doug Yule. The cover photo of Murphy standing in Times Square early one Sunday Morning was taken by photographer Michael Dakota although stylised by Steven Meisel.


  1. Diamonds By The Yard -:-- / 6:57
  2. Deco Dance -:-- / 5:13
  3. Rich Girls -:-- / 3:22
  4. Abraham Lincoln Continental -:-- / 4:33
  5. Isadora’s Dancers -:-- / 4:55
  6. You Never Know What You’re In For -:-- / 4:19
  7. Lady Stilletto -:-- / 4:12
  8. Lookin’ For A Hero -:-- / 3:47
  9. Never As Old As You -:-- / 2:47


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

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

back to top


One way or another they’re gonna get you soon
they’re gonna crush your banana they’re gonna blow your balloon
One way or another your face is gonna fall
But you’ll still smile in your river
you’ll just be a little wet baby that’s all

In the middle of a black Cadillac limousine
I heard you say that you’re never quoted or quite what you mean
And you say that your pictures never really ring true
And you don’t think that the media will ever catch you
No matter what they do

And than later at the discotheque deco ball
You dressed down but you really gave that smile your all
And pretty soon like a primal your screaming through
And pretty soon your libido is turning blue
Baby, what to do

And the band gets a hand for the deco dance
Give the band such a hand watch ’em deco dance
You had to take a chance and do the deco dance

I’ll I see you later at the starlet memorial show
I always see you when you haven’t any other place to go
And we can talk about the glory that’s now your past
‘Cause I can tell you baby that the past is the only thing that lasts…if you move too fast

And the band gets a hand for the deco dance
Give the band a hand watch ‘em deco dance
You had to take a chance
And now your deco dance

back to top


Rich girls smoke Kools – Fllirt with hesitation
Can I please help you cry servants with vacations
And leaves me with a vision Southampton gazebo
Is my left swing disturbing your senses and I’m left with your pink dress pretensions
That’s all

Rich Girls don’t know just what is the answer
How much does it matters to be a good dancer
and inside a bubble of snowflakes and skaters the world is infecting your romance
And your pearls of Ulysses are nowhere
To be found

White fox delivers
A moment and an eyelash
Reflecting pools
And mirrors for the migrants
And kid gloves lay resting
On a stairway descending
To paths well worn with fragrance
And to the homes of your blue blooded vagrants
Of the night

back to top


Please take me home to a place where there’s always neon burning
And then you can leave me all alone
And I’ll sit and watch as this world wide web keep turning
But who could have remembered
About the color of your hair last year
Yes tonight the computers all lie dreaming
About corporate suits
And a typewriter army screaming

All the soldiers are holding their guns real tight
As they name the boys in letters to their mother
And singles keep swinging al through the night
Disregarding both their health and their alma maters
But lo and behold somebody is crawling
He still thinks he can make it in the underground
And I see that this movie is all sold out
But I guess that’s the price of exposing yourself in pubic

And the days of the stereo Indians end
Cause a tie is not required anywhere except heaven
And the chrome and the concrete well they still try to defend
All the morals that still lie East of Eden
And oh how I remember when I was just two feet
And I really felt close the earth
And I see that the calendar goes by up on the screen
And I fear again the old days are here forever
And the fast draw is constantly getting better
And do I have to do this just to earn a high school letter

back to top


I’ve gone to meet Isadora’s dancers
Wrote that girl on her own blue jeans
I’ve given up trying to find the answers
And these times the’re sure turning mean
So here’s to you and to my mother
And to that boy at work who lent me his radio
Because for me there’s never been no others
At making friends I’m awfully slow awfully slow

I can dream of a nicer ending
And I dreamed of a lonely show
With just me and my ballerina
And she turns slowly up on her toes
And I clap and the hall it echoes
And my dancer’s eyes are wide as a doe
But the time wasn’t right for the moment
This I know this I know – I let her go

And it’s raining and it’s Sunday San Francisco
And I think I’ll go take in the porno show
Cause it’s dark and it’s cold and it’s lonely
And it’s as far from love as you can go
So here’s to you Isadora’s dancers
And to that girl who just had to go
And as for me, well I don’t know the answers
Is life too fast or is it just too slow
Oh so slow

back to top


Getting late they were spaced just a trace
Of the old coming down
Ancient fun one and one he said someday
We’ll leave this town
But magazines glamour scenes in betweens
Had him nailed to the ground
And the sounds still waiting to be found

And we are all junkies, pushers, pimps and hookers
You never know what you’re in to’
And you can shake it, try to forsake it
But you know you’re gonna take it
You never know what you’re in for

By the time he was nine there were signs of an old melody
He tried to list w at he missed just a kiss
Was it real or TV
Find a way make it pay you can say a rehearsed passion play
Everyday, everyday

And we’re all junkies pushers, pimps and hookers
You never know what you’re in for
And you can shake it, try to forsake it
But you know you’re gonna take it
You never know what you’re in for

But anyway he said hey I’m gonna stay Baby Please don’t cry
It’s just rough to stay tough full of lust and Be a walking hi fi
I see you and I’m through with that god
Who demands such a lie
But you gotta get by
And we’ll get by

And we are all junkies, pushers, pimps and pushers
You never know what you’re in for
And you can shake it, try to forsake it
But you know you’re gonna take it
You never know what you’re in for

back to top


I see this little girl she’s dressed in black
She’s spitting on the stage
And like some stray cat she arches her back
She leads the anarchist parade
She’s a poet with street walking rhymes
They say she’s got no shame
And as she screams about some piss factory
Her eyes burn with Rimbaud’s rage

Ch baby you got such a way with words
You got such a way with your hairstyle
There’s only one thing that you do I don’t believe
That’s when you smile

Her T shirt’s ripped with a passion
Her mind’s been raped by Rolling Stones
She keeps her weight down by fasting
On Jim Morrison’s bones
And when she’s good she’s a rock dream witch
With Mac Beth on lead guitar
Just a ballad of a thin girl
I really think she’s gonna go far

Oh baby you got such a way with words
You got such a way with your hairstyle
There’s only one thing that you do don’t believe
That’s when you smile

She really knows how to get to the heart
She writes with a stiletto in mind
She’s got just a touch of Bonaparte
She’s lack the Ripper’s kind
Her wounds are open for the sake at art
She’s living right near the edge
I love to see that kind of power
Its getting lonely on this ledge

Oh baby you got such a way with words
You got such a way with your hair style
There’s only one thing that you do I don’t believe
That’s when you smile

back to top


Hot head cold feet baby I need something to eat
Anxiety overblown – nineteen seventies you got no home (got no
Lock your doors choose your friends
I need sleep but I hate this night to
end again
Looking for a hero’s trend
Yeah again

Memories of childhood I used to know what’s bad and good (bad is good)
Who wants to hear about some noble death
We’re signing contracts for mediocre endlessness
Off to war off to sleep
You better get off with anybody you can meet in the street
I’m looking for a hero’s beat in the street
I’m looking for a hero’s beat in the street

Polite society they’re changing rules (changing rules)
Back shooting very chic nobody’s fool (nobody’s fool)
Hordes of barbarians they’re forming on the ridge
I guess this empire will soon be ditched
I hope the moral won’t be missed

A thousand years enjoy the ruins
A tour guide explains bubble gum chewing
They had religion sky scraperism
If you were black you lived in prison
Through ancient billboards we’ve been told
They had one god his name was Rock ‘n Roll Rock ‘n Roll
I’m looking for a hero’s soul in rock ‘n roll
Looking for a hero’s soul somewhere in Rock ‘n Roll

back to top


I heard you say you were notorious and glorious
Well I say that’s a funny name
For a girl I went to high school with
Who u 19b sed to give me lunch time change
And show all the boys the back seats of your daddy’s car
I can’t believe your stories
Nobody grows that far

And you lied and I cried I was mystified
When I was 16 yes its true
But there’s one thing that I’m sure of
I’ll never be as old as you

I got a parakeet missionary among canaries
Who always tells the same dirty jok 3bf e
About he holy ghost and his roman gang
The time they did too much coke
An walked around holy city
Laughing at statutes of saints
I told my bird to quit it
Canaries usually faint


I get local delivery of your misery
Even the milkman leaves a note
And the neighbors sure were very shocked
About your drawbridge and your moat
I mean once a night is enough
For all that chivalry stuff
Baby put down your armor
Your pokers only a bluff

(CHORUS) + terrified

back to top

All Songs by Elliott Murphy © 1976 –
Lyrics Reprinted by Permission

Polydor Records PD-5061

Produced by Steve Katz with Elliott Murphy
Engineered by Dave Wittman
All songs composed by Elliott Murphy
Photography: Michael Dakota
Cover Concept: Dennis Katz
Art Direction: Acy Lehman
Mastered by Bob Ludwig, Sterling Sound
Recorded at Electric Lady Studios, New York City (Autumn 1975)

“Diamonds By The Yard”
Elliott Murphy: Vocal, Acoustic & Electric Guitars, Arp STrings, Organ Pedals
Jerry Harrison: Piano, Organ
Andy Paley: Drums & Percussion
Ernie Brooks: Bass

“Deco Dance”
Elliott Murphy: Vocal, Acoustic Guitar
Billy Joel: Piano
Mike Braun: Drums
Richard Davis: Upright Bass
Ralph Schuckett: Organ
Doug Yule: Vocals
Lew Soloff, Lou Marini, Michael Brecker, Howard Johnson, Tom Malone: Horns
Harry Lookofsky: Violin
Geraldine: Lead Whisper
Cheryl Clark: Tap Dancing
Horns & Violin arranged by Ralph Schuckett

“Rich Girls”
Elliott Murphy: Vocals, Acoustic & Electric Guitars
Doug Yule: Electirc Guitar, Vocals
Mike Braun: Drums
Ernie Brooks: Bass
Ralph Schuckett: Piano, Organ

“Abraham Lincoln Continental”
Elliott Murphy: Vocal, Acoustic & Electric Guitars
Doug Yule: Second Guitar
Mike Braun: Drums & Percussion
Ernie Brooks: Bass
Ralph Schuckett: Piano

“Isadora’s Dancers”
Elliott Murphy: Vocal, Acoustic Guitar
Ralph Schuckett: Piano, Organ
Mike Braun: Drums & Percussion
Ernie Brooks: Bass
Mr. Harte’s Westorchard School 4th Graders: Chorus
Orchestrated by Ralph Schuckett

“You Never Know What You’re In For”
Elliott Murphy: Vocal, Harmonica, Acoustic Guitar
Mike Braun: Drums
Ralph Schuckett: Organ, Accordian
Richard Davis: Upright Bass
Doug Yule: Vocals
Steve Katz: Vocals

“Lady Stilletto”
Elliott Murphy: Vocal, Harmonica, Electric & Acoustic Guitars
Jerry Harrison: Piano, Organ, Arp Strings
Ernie Brooks: Bass, Vocals
Andy Paley: Drums & Percussion

“Lookin’ For A Hero”
Elliott Murphy: Vocal, Acoustic Guitar
Doug Yule: Bass, Vocals
Mike Braun: Drums
Ralph Schuckett: Organ, Clavichord
Steve Katz: Vocals

“Never As Old As You”
Elliott Murphy: Vocal, Acoustic & Electric Guitars
Ernie Brooks: Bass, Vocals
Andy Paley: Drums
Jerry Harrison: Piano
Mark Horowitz: Pedal Steel

Billy Joel appears courtesy of Columbia Records
Michael Brecker appears courtesy of Arista Records

Record By Record, Murphy By Murphy: Night Lights

This was supposed to be my “prodigal son returns home to New York” album and I guess it is. We recorded in Electric Lady Studios in Greenwich Village and much of the soul of the album is thanks to Ernie Brooks and Jerry Harrison, ex-Modern Lovers both. Steve Katz produced (Blues Project, Blood Sweat and Tears, Lou Reed) and brought ex-Velvet Underground legend Doug Yule to the sessions who played guitar and sang and my friend Billy Joel played piano on one song. Legendary Jazz bassist Richard Davis played the Upright Bass on “You Never Know What You’re In For.” Perhaps Night Lights has my favorite cover, shot on Times Square at 6 AM on a Sunday morning. “Diamonds By The Yard” only has three chords – perhaps my proudest achievement. “Lady Stilletto” was homage to Patti Smith who was also recording in Electric Lady Studios but Stilletto is also an anagram for St. Elliott!

Taken from Crossroads magazine.

About The Cover – “A Hero’s Beat On The Street”

The genius behind this shot was Steven Meisel who was my friend at the time. Steven had been reading Vogue Magazine since he was 10 and knew everything about fashion and models. He dressed me for the cover and did my makeup which I really needed because we shot it early Sunday morning on Times Square in New York City and I was exhausted. The streets were deserted and photographer Michael Dakota was able to shoot all he wanted just by dodging the occasional truck rumbling down 42nd Street. I knew that this would be my New York album and so I wanted something that would show the city. Of course, now Times Square looks completely different – before it was Porn theatres and now its like Disneyland for tourists. I kind of miss the old days.

Elliott Murphy returned to recording in New York City for his third album, emphasizing the point by posing for the cover in the middle of 42nd Street. Enlisting producer Steve Katz, who had handled the last three Lou Reed albums, Murphy fronted a studio band including former Velvet Underground singer/guitarist Doug Yule and former Modern Lovers Ernie Brooks (bass) and Jerry Harrison (keyboards), who was soon to join Talking Heads. They gave Murphy a more contemporary and diverse rock sound, further distinguished from the first two albums by Murphy’s development into a more expressive singer. He had even cut back on the referential nature of his lyrics, relying instead on clever wordplay and evocative free association, though he was still capable of throwing out lines like “Just a ballad of a thin girl,” dangerous stuff for anyone who had been tagged a “new Dylan.” For the most part, though, Night Lights showed Murphy to be moving beyond his obvious influences, even if his lyrics sometimes seemed in need of a sharper focus.

William Ruhlmann – AllMusic

Click on any red link for images of each release.

Vinyl LPs

RCA APL1-1318
*Note: There are orange and tan label versions.

RCA APL1-1381

RCA APL1-1318

RCA RVP-6049
RCA PG-132 (1980)
*Note: Reissue with OBI.

RCA NL-46054 (1987)


RCA NK 90445


RCA/BMG ND 90445 (1990)

Sony/BMG BVCM-34258 (2008)

United Kingdom:
Camden Deluxe/BMG 82876512122 (2003)
*Note: Double CD reissue with Lost Generation

Raven Records RVCD-369 (2013)
*Note: Double CD reissue with Lost Generation

45rpm Vinyl Singles

“Looking For A Hero” / “Looking For A Hero”
US: RCA JH-10690
*Note: Promo 45, marked “Not For Sale.” Stereo on one side, mono on the other.

“Looking For A Hero” / “Never As Old As You
Japan: RCA (Picture Sleeve) (1974)

“Looking For A Hero” / “Never As Old As You”
Japan: RCA (Picture Sleeve)
*Note: Uncomfirmed

Please note: If you have additions or corrections to this discography, please send them to the webmaster.

Elliott Murphy - 1975 Rolling Stone Night Lights Review
Night Lights
Rolling Stone
Elliott Murphy - Night Lights Rolling Stone Ad
Night Lights
Rolling Stone