The Middle Kingdom


Record Details

Elliott Murphy - The Middle Kingdom

The Middle Kingdom is a dramatic spoken word with music album comprised of a selection of poems from the Elliott Murphy collection of the same name. Read by Elliott himself, with accompanying music composed and performed by his long time musical partner Olivier Durand and mixed and produced by Gaspard Murphy, the result is a surprisingly powerful album whose provocative lyrical images are lifted to yet another dimension when combined with sympathetic and moving musical themes. The idea for this unique project was born during the Corona virus confinement in France when it was impossible for these two long-time musical collaborators to perform or record together as Olivier Durand lives in Le Havre and Elliott Murphy in Paris. Elliott proposed that Olivier make a selection of poems from his second book of poetry Middle Kingdom that he could relate to both musically and lyrically and after deciding upon 18 titles he composed and recorded accompanying musical themes in his home studio in Le Havre. After contributing his own musical ideas to the title cut, producer Gaspard Murphy mixed the final album with state of the art HD sound. The subject matter of the poems themselves go from rock ‘n roll to (“On The Death of Prince” & “Last Night I Dreamed About Lou”) to the very autobiographical “The Middle Kingdom.”


  1. A Poem A Day -:-- / 1:41
  2. A Worried Man -:-- / 2:07
  3. Blues Progression -:-- / 1:43
  4. Chagall -:-- / 0:58
  5. Do Angels Wear Shoes -:-- / 1:58
  6. Forgotten Already -:-- / 1:21
  7. Freedom Of Line / Spontaneous Light -:-- / 0:48
  8. Grandpa Murphy On 10Th Street -:-- / 3:33
  9. Last Night I Dreamed About Lou -:-- / 1:51
  10. Like Gerard Depardieu Do -:-- / 0:57
  11. Nasty Wife -:-- / 0:46
  12. On The Death of Prince -:-- / 6:09
  13. Tapping -:-- / 1:53
  14. The Middle Kingdom -:-- / 9:44
  15. This Lake -:-- / 2:08
  16. Three Hundred Words -:-- / 2:23
  17. Uninspired And That’s OK -:-- / 1:30
  18. Where The Roads Go -:-- / 1:30


Rhyme again
Rhyme better
Rhyme with time
And the words will somehow find
Their place in line
Most of the time
So be there
Or be square
Although no one really says that anywhere
That I’ve been
Even living in sin
Like Rin Tin Tin
A dirty dog
Sleeping like a log
Why a log
Why not a cog
Because log and cog
Don’t really rhyme
Although they would
If you pronounced cog
With a New England accent
Like Katherine Hepburn would
And Audrey Hepburn couldn’t
But when doves cry
And rapper’s rhyme
It’s more about time
‘Cause they don’t follow no signs
Because rappers rhyme words
With beats they’ve heard
Just because they can
And if somebody tells ‘em that they can’t
Then they start to rant
Go fuck yourself
I got 99 problems and the rhyme ain’t one
But what pushes me to rhyme
And that’s almost all the time
Is some kind of addiction
Almost a mental affliction
Close encounters of the aural kind
Because a rhyme tastes sweet
To my ears and then my feet
Start to move move move with that cool poet’s groove

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Up ahead
Just a bit
A cloud is lit
The sky is red
No comfort there or anywhere
A stranger’s stare you lost your hair
It’s like I feel
The earth turn round
And then I jump at the slightest sound
My lust for life
Can’t be found
When every bad news seems to surround
Every new face looks so profound
But I’m a solitary figure
So I’m foreign bound
I’m a worried man (he’s a worried man)
I remember once
There was a time
This world was mine
And I squeezed it dry
Tears of joy like a childs toy as I was able
To move straight on ahead
And then it’s like when I looked back
A smoke gray blue
Was painted so that
I’d wake up each day
Stomach in a knot
No gratitutde for what I got
Good good loving right at hand
But the closer it got
The faster I ran
I’m a worried man (he’s worried man)
Infinity was sucking me
So violently empty
‘Cept for doubt and disbelief (and I didn’t want to die)
Random thoughts
Of my endless mistakes made lonely days worse
And grievous heartaches
For god’s sake Martha give me a break
The truest sign
Of a superior mind
Two opposite thoughts
Cooking at the same time
Like for instance
Life’s a bust
Whether you burn
Whether you rust
Still you try harder – and run faster
Buy a house in madagascar

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I woke up this morning and my baby left me with nothing but a
headache. Called my doctor and he said come in for a checkup. I’m
feeling so low I could tunnel into this city and cry me a river. Or maybe I
couldn’t but that’s no one’s business. Me and my baby – fight like cats
and dogs – make love like ostriches – watch TV like monkeys – fight
insomnia like spotted owls.

My baby and me – don’t need no sleeping pills – my baby and me – don’t
need no sleeping pills – my baby and me … okay sometimes we do but
its not like its something that we do a lot.

I’m going down by the delta and I believe I’ll dust my broom. Except
there’s no delta that I know of and my dustless vacuum cleaner blows
my mind. Blows my mind like my current baby blows my mind like
how my ex-baby blew my credit rating too. I’m a backdoor man trying
to avoid my neighbors, I’m a backdoor man trying to avoid my
neighbors. Because I hate that kind of small talk and I’m in a hurry to get
back inside to my sweet computer. I believe I’ll dust my MacBook.

Boom boom boom ….

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A clock with wings
A horse with hands Acrobatic lovers
And a painter’s grief Over a world gone mad
Sadists rule
And losers conquer
Can we trust something natural To figure it all out
Exiled in Paris
Exiled in New York
Exiled by death
And left waiting on the shore
As his love floats away
Her head arched impossibly backwards The Russian Jew
A wandering genius
Jules and Jim
Take a spin
Burn those lies
Wear a disguise
Paint a moustache
On Jean Moreau
Gimme some action
Go go go
When you stop suffering
Then I suppose I’ll start

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Do the streets get cold in heaven at night?
Or is there never a night and the sun’s always bright?
Do ice cycles hang from pearly gates?
Or is there never a winter and the weather is great?
What language do they speak?
What secret signs do they make?

Do Angels wear shoes? Will I be one of them?
Will I see all those people – I thought I’d never see again?

Does everybody know most everybody else?
Up there how do you find the folks you use to know?
Is there a skating rink?
A fine horse show?
And speaking of which, where do the bad horses go?

Is there heaven on earth?
Hell in my head?
And where do our memories go once we’re dead?
Do they live on somewhere in infinite space?
Is there a distant planet where they find a safe place?

Do Angels wear shoes? Will I be one of them?
Will I see all those people – I thought I’d never see again?

The challenge is to join the living and be the same
Joy passed back and forth like a football game
And speaking of which, why do we need games?

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I can’t decide exactly what to do
My pen is scribbling like it has been taught to
I’ve had so much therapy
‘till there’s no meaning to the word
The winds are blowing around me
I’m just another chirping bird
Long legs leaving the café this afternoon
Putting on her gloves while I’m howling to the moon
That’s still hidden in the day’s sober light
Won’t come out again ‘till it’s safe at night
I’m searching for reasons in a world gone mad
Where there’s none that I can see or that I really ever
Porquoi les innocents are slaughtered while the guilty
sip tea
One generation bleeds
So the next can live free
All the sacrifice it took
Just to get to this place
Some zillion miles from nowhere In quiet outer space

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Young Picasso Looking like Rimbaud His father sad
His mother tired
So much genius Around the house Must be exhausting
His nudes are less beautiful Because he saw too much The human body
Needs more color
Clothes & Paint
A wave crashes
On Barceloneta Beach
First communion dressed in white Science & Charity
Blood & Religion
Was Picasso making some kind of a joke?

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1. I have not had a drink
2. In over thirty years now
3. So I’m a sober writer
4. Something of an anomaly
5. A bird that doesn’t fly
6. A fish that doesn’t swim
7. A writer who doesn’t drink
8. And really I don’t miss it
9. Even though I live in France
10.Where wine is a religion

1. My father kept a photo
2. Of his own father whom I shan’t meet
3. Atop his tall dark dresser
4. Twenty years separation of their deaths
5. Now fifty years pass since his own
6. And me alive and well
7. The curse is lifted I suppose
8. Dad took the bullet for all of us
9. Or so says my bald bright brother
10.Who likes to sum things up

1. Grandpa Murphy came from Hull
2. A northern city I imagine quite dull
3. On the east coast of once Great Britain
4. Although I’ve never been up there yet
5. Somaybeit’sahellofalotoffun
6. Shouldn’t be so damn judgmental
7. But even he immigrated to Brooklyn
8. Where he continued pounding nails
9. Into the hooves of horses
10.Until the stampede of automobiles

1. And this the first time I’ve pondered
2. Why my father kept that photo
3. Of his father dressed in a suit
4. High up on his dresser
5. To look at every morning
6. In a baroque brass standing frame
7. As he pulled open a drawer
8. To take out a starched white shirt
9. Folded on a piece of grey cardboard
10.As stiff as his father’s expression

1. Military posture and moustache
2. Decades in the English Army
3. Survived the Siege of Ladysmith
4. Although often drunk and disorderly
5. Andthentimeinadustybrig
6. In India or South Africa
7. He got out just in time
8. And came through Ellis Island
9. Before he would have been rein scripted
10.To die on the fields of Flanders

1. And then no me if that happened
2. Funny how it works like that
3. A man I never even met
4. Holds up the house that I live in
5. No fall of the house of Usher
6. The rise of the house of Murphy
7. Like a basement never visited
8. In that photo he wore his bright medals
9. That rot in a distant landfill
10.Somewhere on this sweet old earth

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Last night I dreamed about Lou Reed
We were both in a baseball stadium
Could have been Yankees or Metz
And I was sitting in the blue bleachers
Close enough to see
That he was with ex-mayor Bloomberg
And when the announcer introduced him
Lou stood up with a smirk
Like always in a waist length leather jacket
Whispering something to the mayor

Lou acknowledged the crowd politely
Then raised his arm nonchalantly
I don’t remember if it was his right
Or his left but that doesn’t matter
Because he held a card in his hand
That was burning like we once did
With Selective Service draft cards
But it was his record company ID
As if such a thing existed
Oh how that crowd laughed and cheered
Lou smiled his all-knowing smile
For another trick was coming
And a second card appeared
And it caught fire as well
A bright yellow MTA MetroCard

“Free Rides!” exclaimed Lou
Shrieking like Peter O’Toole
In a scene from Lawrence of Arabia
And the crowd roared even louder
Obviously a movement had begun
It was as if he had set us free

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Cover my chin with stubble
Good at getting out of trouble
Gonna grow as fat as Dépardieu do
Fourteen bottles of Red and then I’m through.

Living in the land of the last Czar lost
Don’t give a damn what these good times cost
Let the sweet old earth go straight to hell
Drown the Greens in their own wishing well

Jesus rides on Tyrannosaurus Rex
Most everybody here was the result of sex
Some people are lovable and some are just not
So take the cards that you’re dealt with
And give it your best shot

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Nasty Wife
Wants to get out
Do her things
Get ahead no doubt
Earn some real dough
Not ready to go slow
Except when she wants to
Been together now over
A quarter of a century
Now that’s saying something
Not like spending the same
In a locked penitentiary
Opposite of that
We love to chat
About anything at all
About who’s too tall
This is a marriage
Day to day
Keeping up with the times
Trying not to stray
Too far from that magnet
That brought us together
That made us both better
And produced a fine son
And made us realize
That our lives had begun

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He had his own color Purple
He had his own year 1999
He had his own kingdom
And he came from the same state as
F. Scott Fitzgerald, Bob Dylan and Charles Schulz
Who created Peanuts
An Indian word which meant

If there was one thing I swore I’d never do
I’ve probably done it already
A few times already
Because the things I know I’ll never do
Like murder someone for instance
Don’t even make it into my bucket list
Which is a term by the way
I don’t like at all
And I resent other people when they use it
In fact I could kill them

Because it seems to my ears at least
To my resentful way of thinking
To be a boastful way of saying
I’ve done it in my mind already
So I’m cool for just thinking of it
And stuffing it into an imaginary bucket
That my therapist had me invent
As I paid off my 50 minute session in cash
Helps value the hour, if you didn’t know
And I say
Who carries a bucket anyhow?
And is it wood like you’d dunk in wishing well
Or galvanized steel like in a clanking factory
Or brightly colored plastic like in a watery laundromat

You’re thinking you’re Huck Finn
While I’m thinking you’re Charlie Chaplin
Who’d step on a bucket, get his foot caught
And eventually fall on his ass
With his legs spread-eagle and his eyes agape
On a flimsy California movie set
In a jittery silent film
Where the only sound you would hear
Were people sitting next to you laughing uproariously
Wetting their pants and panties
Which is something I’ve never done
At least from laughter that I can remember

Prince died last week
And Miles Davis said
Prince was part Jimi Hendrix
Part James Brown
And part Charlie Chaplin
Three notes not normally blown together
But Miles could play anything
And understood the music of silence
Oh and part Marvin Gaye too
Oh and also Sly Stone
Let’s not forget Little Richard
And that other musical royalty
Duke Ellington

There have been military music men
Major Lance (Walking the dog)
And the one you remember all these years Sergeant Pepper
And the three Kings from the blues dynasty BB, Freddie and Albert
And Bo Diddly’s sexy female guitarist
Was called nothing less then The Duchess
(Of what I’m not sure)
And then of course there was Count Basie
Not to be confused with the Count Five
Who did Psychotic Reaction
Better stop there

I must confess
That I always found Prince’s mascaraed salaciousness
His bare chested lascivious come-on
So corny, so mid-west Protestant
But he danced like James Brown sans sweat
And his women were always wild with splendid hair
And true spirits on their own
And his immense talent undeniable
As he held vast orgies of harmony on stage
Humping everybody in time
Which you were invited to join
But only if you could dance
57 is too young but not as young as Jim, Jimi or Janis
Or even Kurt Cobain
Prince left two vaults full of unreleased music
But no wife, no kids, no parents
So let the squabbling begin
Amongst the distant heirs to the princedom
Who will surely come out of nowhere

To claim the princely treasures
Of Le Petit Prince who sang about elevators
And then died in his own
That’s right, his own elevator
And 300 million they say
Let’s go crazy and punch in a higher floor

Prince told Larry King
Although at that time he didn’t use the name Prince
The Artist formerly known as Prince
Which is to say the least a mouthful
To gain the upper hand
Of the evil encroaching Warner Brothers
That once he wrote SLAVE on his cheek
And it was all over then as far as he was concerned
But he still loved them
The ever-changing presidents of his record company
Although the suits weren’t invited to orgy
And the year 1999 was his alone
He played electric guitar so effortlessly
It was hard to believe
He could be that good
But he was

Prince told King he didn’t celebrate birthdays
And was very very soft-spoken
As befits a prince
When questioned by a king

We are entering that age when last century’s
Icons start falling off the map
Right into the lap of history
Like Mark Twain
And now Bowie and Prince.
Me, I’ve yet to make the mark
I believe I was destined to scratch out on this
Twirling stone so I stick around
Engine running in a no parking zone
Like a Little Red Corvette
Bound like all of us
For the scrap heap someday

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There is a tapping that I know is just rain
In no certain rhythm on a window pane
It sounds like fingertips gently reminding me
Let someone in come out of my reverie
Whatever that might be
And reverie is not le bon mot
Because when I’m lost in thoughts
It’s not always pleasant places I go
Sometimes it’s traumatic
And that’s automatic
With a Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome like that
It’s bound to want to take you back
To the worst thing that ever happened to you
To someone you loved and you had to watch too
In the panic there was nothing you could do

Enough about that says the cat in the hat
Places to go and people to see
I once heard someone explain to me
There’s no such thing as any vivid future
And that’s a thought I’d like to nurture
As the rain lets up and the sun breaks through
As if that’s the ordinary and normal thing to do
Although rain is as much a part of the plan

As storm and snow and moo goo gai pan
The name of a popular Chinese dish
My mother use to eat ‘cause she didn’t like fish
A billion Chinese who knows what they like
Or as we said in the fifties
I Like Ike

I’m rambling and rhyming and enjoying the hum
Of the fan in my computer that I pray won’t succumb
To a hard drive crash or a malfunctioning screen
Makes me remember my family’s first color TV
We got it one Christmas that was sad and weepy
After the death of the head of the house
Left each of us as vulnerable as a scared trapped mouse

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There was this boy
Who grew up in a shady town
Not shady as in crooked
But shady as in leafy
A lovely garden of a town
First in a nice house, a very nice house
On the corner of a modest prim avenue
Just a block from the prim local school
And in this nice house, this very nice house
For as long as he could remember
This boy had his own room to sleep in
And his very own dreams to ponder
You might have called this family affluent
Unless you yourself were quite wealthy
And your family had always been that way
For as long as you could remember
And if that was your fate to be
And you weren’t some nouveau riche wannabee
You might have called this boy’s family middle class
Like a put-down to hint they was crass
No more no less then an innuendo
The American dream in a nutshell
But if you were from a more modest background
Where children often shared cramped bedrooms
Where maids rarely came cleaning ovens
Where your mom went courageously food shopping
Checking prices on tin cans and wrapped cold cuts
(Which this boy’s mom never did once)
And buying Family size Welch’s Grape Jelly
(No, not Polaner’s Strawberry Preserves silly)
If that was your life of daily toil
You’d probably have called this boy spoiled
And meant it as kind of an insult

With green jealousy hiding behind it
Finally, if you came from a lost third world country
Located on a poor distant continent
That loomed large on the wallpaper maps
That lined the walls of this boy’s very own room
But low on UN per capita income charts
And if that was you could you even imagine
This boy’s daily life in a daydream
While your mother walked forty-five minutes
To bring home clean water from upstream
That won’t make you ill when you drink it
If that was your case then I think it
Would lead you to think it was like Disneyland
Although probably you wouldn’t know how …
Because probably … and I’m just guessing now
You wouldn’t know where the fuck Disneyland was

But this boy he knew where Disneyland was
And he knew it came from sunny California
Where everything cool seemed to come from
Because he’d watched the original
Mickey Mouse Show
And he loved cute Annette Funicello
And he remembered Jimmy Dodd’s singing
And as an adult he could Google almost everything
Of every Mouseketeer who his eyes ever tasted
In the vastness of the Wikipedia wasteland
Where pointless and useless knowledge
Can entertain us for hours and hours
And he could peep back into those lives
Like a voyeur looking through a mouse hole

And discover they weren’t really as happy
(And after googling Roy and Walt Disney)
As they seemed on his black and white TV
And he’d be left with a low down bad feeling
Like saying who really cares really
Because now there are more important entries
In the endless melting pot of celebrities
Like Kanye and Kim and Jay-Z and Beyoncé
Well, we know what really matters don’t we

I mean think about the ancient Egyptians
Who feared one day sand might overwhelm them
Something like nuclear annihilation
Which could turn us to dust and sand eventually
And then we’ll be right back where we started
Right there with the ancient Egyptians
Who still managed to have three kingdoms
And the one in the middle was called
You’ll get it
The Middle Kingdom

But this boy mentioned in the opening line here
Was also the middle child here
You got it
And only a few short years separated
Him from his more ancient sister
Him from his more modern brother
And these three once made up three-fifths
Of a nuclear American family
That eventually unexpectedly exploded
When someone died and turned to dust
And the three became seventy-five percent
Of a sad post-nuclear family
A family blown truly apart
That still managed to stay quite together
And loved each other forever
And unless something unforeseen happens
And fucks everything up again
Unless that happens, God willing
These three will become the whole enchilada
The remains at the end of the day
Because their mother who is ninety-one soon
Will probably go first to the moon
Or second if you began a countdown
With the already space-bound father

I get ahead of myself so quickly
That’s a nervous storyteller’s weakness
Can you still now even remember
The corner house I once mentioned in December
With maps on the wall of that boy’s room
Well, maybe then they should have just stayed there
I mean the family not the maps of course dear
Because if that had been the case
Nobody would have died in the next house
The middle house
The middle kingdom
The middle child
And you know I could jump to the epilogue
Right now if I wanted to spoil it
And tell you that boy is here drinking hot chocolate
In the Vieux-Colombier Café in Paris
On the twenty third day of December
Two Thousand Sixteen year of our Lord
Though I doubt any so-called Lord
Would want his name associated with this year
Or any other annus horribilis
That’s Latin for …

So …

The middle house was truly grand
In every way you could possibly imagine
Like imagine Gone With The Wind
Without the cotton fields of course
Or a bright happy Wuthering Heights
With a high fine friendly brick wall
And cast iron swinging black gates
That opened on to the leafy grand street
That ran in front of the truly grand house
And one night this same boy I mentioned
Ran out through those gates aforementioned
Pounding on his neighbor’s doors
Screaming for help to the heavens
Dropping to his knees in prayer
Because someone was dying or dead
In one of the upstairs bedrooms
In one of the four upstairs bedrooms
Of the middle house
Of the middle house
And that someone was his father

Who never set foot in the third house
Like The Third Man when Orson Welles appears
Smiling in a doorway with a smile
Like his father a magic man like his father
Obviously both irreplaceable
Who made Christmas feel kind of Disney
In the dark and cold East Coast dismal
And Christmas tree buying an adventure
In the Never Never Land of Long Island
And Christmas morning opening presents
Like the greatest high imaginable
(And I’ve known a few highs myself)
The greatest high a child could hope for

But that magic man was replaced
In what could only be called a mistake
A terrible, terrible mistake
By a sarcastic doomed alcoholic
A gambler and a smoker of Viceroy
Who destroyed his own very wife’s joy
(Who just so happened to come from old Egypt)
And before you knew what had happened
He had moved into the third last house
The terrible terrible third last house
Where if you stayed on the phone too long
In the tiny kitchen of the third house
Or at least long enough to displease him
Look he’s taking scissors from a drawer him
And cutting the coiled cord in two him
And leaving you … I mean the boy now
Standing there holding the damn phone there
The dead damn phone right in your right hand
Totally useless now unless the boy had decided
That he was going to fight it
And club the drunken sarcastic doomed gambler
Over and over and over and over again
Until he’s lying on the kitchen floor then
Beaten to a good bloody pulp my friend
Until the cops took the boy out in handcuffs
But of course none of that ever happened
Because the boy was brought up to be
Nothing if not polite by his father
And thus he could only ever imagine
Committing such a terrible regrettable act

Every fucking day for the rest of his life
And then things happened as they do
And four lives jumped ahead to part two
And the new wife of the drunken doomed gambler
The mother of the boy in the first line
Once the wife of the magic now dead man
Who died in the middle house truly grand
Grew to hate her new husband with a vengeance
To the point she really could have killed him
If there had been sharp scissors in the drawer
When he said the wrong thing at the wrong time
And the boy married three times himself now
Same number as the kingdoms of Egypt
And someone once seriously told him
Someone endowed with strange powers
That once he was surely a pharaoh
Yes a genuine goddamn pharaoh
Of which kingdom was another sphinx riddle
But I suspect it was probably the middle

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This lake like a mirror turns everything upside down
One man’s farm becoming part of his neighbor’s town
Then the unmistakable sound of a Farfisa organ
Comes blasting in my ear
Then it disappears and turns to night vapor
Like someone wiped off a tear

I’m so far north that if I keep going
I’ll be heading southbound soon
But that doesn’t matter and I don’t care
As long as I don’t meet an angry brown bear

They’re wrapping the wheat in white plastic sacs
Looks like a giant has been out shopping
And now he wants to take everything back
Who’s gonna argue with him?

Pine tree lines delineate a jagged horizon
When it comes to pure nature
There just ain’t no compromising
With the real thing

I’m just a mixed-up poet
Trying to make this world rhyme
Sometimes I know what I’m doing
But I’m bluffing most of the time

Looking here and there for guidance
Can I redo my life from the start
But I’m riding this rock ‘n roll river
And turning back is not in the cards
If fact, you can’t play Mozart backwards
Well you can I suppose
Standing quietly over his grave
And you’ll hear the Master decompose

I’m not such a worried man
But do I sing a worried song
Do I keep my true self-hidden?
When I am brave and strong
Money is some kind of magic
Watch it disappear from my hand

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I feel so lost
I feel so light
I feel so embittered
In the middle of the night

And I wake up
With a pain in my gut
And a restless feeling More tired then I was

I’ve got to move
I’ve got to grow
I’ve got to find
A new place to go

I want to protect
All that is mine
I want my friends
To love me all of the time

I want it all
And then I want some more
I want what’s in this room
And what’s behind that green door

No satisfaction
Is coming my way
At least I didn’t see it
When I checked my mail today

And I’m so lucky
And I’m so blessed
And I’m so entitled
To the best of the best

To hate one another
I can’t believe
To kill our fellow brothers
That we were put here to grieve

That’s someone else
That’s surely not me
I want to sit like Isaac Newton
Under a rotten apple tree
And think such great thoughts
That my head will explode
I will figure out infinity
And how to recycle old clothes
Until we’re all dressed
The very same way
Like we’re in a funny army Led by Tina Fey

I see my time is up
And I don’t like it one bit
So give me some of your time
That’s how it is

Cause now I don’t feel lost
I’m more heavy then light
I love all of mankind
Especially who I’m with tonight

So if there’s war
Let it be just
Let me be on the winning side
Let my enemies eat dust
Let there be one truth
And let me be its sole possessor
Let me go to confession
With Robert Lowell1 as my confessor

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Can’t Move
Can’t Think
Can Type
Very fast in fact
Can eat
A banana anytime
But can’t find
Something to capture my mind’s
Desire to escape
Now I know there are books
And movies and more
But I don’t seem to care about them
Or at least not as much
As I once did before
I’m not depressed
At least I hope I’m not
And I’m not sick
Or maybe I’m starting to rot
From the inside out
My dog is dying
That’s not really true
My dog is very old
But she’s still getting through
Each day like a dog does
With crapping and fooding
And a dozen pee runs
Like me too
I haven’t read Tolstoy
And I don’t think I will
I haven’t been to Africa
And I can leave it still Just where it is
Without me there
While I sit here
In a comfortable chair

Staring at a screen Staring at a screen Staring at a screen Staring at a
screen Staring at a screen Staring at a screen Staring at a screen Staring at
a screen Staring at a screen Staring at a screen Staring at a screen Staring
at a screen Staring at a screen Staring at a screen Staring at a screen
Staring at a screen Staring at a screen Staring at a screen Staring at a
screen Staring at a screen Staring at a screen Staring at a screen Staring at
a screen Staring at a screen Staring at a screen Staring at a screen Staring
at a screen Staring at a screen Staring at a screen

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My brother wants to stay
On long Long Island
Because he says he knows
Where all the roads do go
But I don’t want to live and die
Forty minutes from where I was born
So I chose Paris instead
It’s a long way from home

Fidel Castro’s Brother
The oldest one of three
Chose not to be involved
As a violent revolutionary
Chose not to be running a country
But to run a farm like his father did
Till the soil and throw the seed
Like how his ashes will be spread

I eat the same breakfast
Nearly every morning now
Muesli cereal and OJ
And then some strong coffee black
But that doesn’t seem to bother me
As much as the thought
Of going back to where I came from
‘Cause I know I can never go back

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All words by Elliott Murphy ©2020
Published by Elliott Murphy
Reprinted by permission

The Middle Kingdom
Murphyland ML0009CD

Produced and Mixed by Gaspard Murphy
All songs by Elliott Murphy & Olivier Durand
(Except “The Middle Kingdom” by Elliott Murphy, Olivier Durand & Gaspard Murphy)
Words: Elliott Murphy
Music: Olivier Durand
Cover Photograph:
Marcos Cebrián
Design: Chloé

Elliott Murphy and Olivier Durand, The Middle Kingdom.
If you’ve followed the long career of Paris-based rocker Elliott Murphy, you won’t be surprised to learn that he is releasing an album of poetry set to music. He has always loved language and has issued spoken-word recordings before, such as the excellent “On Elvis Presley’s Birthday,” which first appeared on 1993’s Unreal City. His side projects, moreover, have included several novels and a 2017 book called The Middle Kingdom & 50 Other Poems.

Now he has combined 18 of that book’s poems with music composed and performed by his longtime accompanist, Olivier Durand. The wide-ranging program features two numbers about departed rock stars (“On the Death of Prince” and “Last Night I Dreamed about Lou”) as well as several that appear to focus on Murphy’s own life and family: “Nasty Wife” (which is considerably sweeter than the title would suggest), “Grandpa Murphy on 10th Street,” and the clearly autobiographical title cut. Throughout, the verse is deft, laced with humor, and well-complemented by Durand’s music.

– Jeff Burger /

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Murphyland ML0009CD

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Elliott Murphy - The Middle Kingdom - The Poems
Elliott Murphy – The Middle Kingdom – The Poems