Today I take the train to Le Havre to continue working on the mixes of my new album Coming Home Again. I’ll be working with Florent Barbier my trustworthy engineer and, of course, Olivier Durand who helps with the creative decisions along the way. Its been a long road as we started recording new material as much as two years ago. The most difficult part is to decide which songs to include and which songs to keep sleeping. This time I wanted to make a concise album of pure music – maybe 12 or 13 tracks at most and no covers and no bonus DVD. Actually, this will be my first new album of all original songs in quite a while because even Soul Surfing, Rainy Season and Strings of the Storm contained some covers if I remember correctly. Murphy Gets Muddy was a great opportunity to clear the decks and rethink. I got in touch with my roots and was grateful to find them still connected. Then there was a long period where I couldn’t envisage a new album – I couldn’t see it! – and I was lost in the wilderness until I sat in the back seat of a car in Spain on my way to the airport and started writing some words on a notebook: “People tell me that I’m gonna go far – when I’m just getting use to the way things are” and luckily I had some little gadget attached to my iPod that enabled me to record and so with the sound of traffic and planes all around me I started singing and Home Again was born. Songs seem to be born in litters and just after that came “Johnny Boy Gone,” “Not Enough Time” and a few others so I took The Normandy Allstars into the studio and we started putting them down one by one. But still there were many old tracks from the Murphy Gets Muddy sessions (and even before) that I really thought would make it to the new album but finally had to put them aside when a few latecomers like “Pneumonia Alley” and “40 Days and 40 Nights” started pulling on my sleeve. So we were just about finished when Kenny Margolis showed up in Paris for some shows in Spain and in Thiers, France and we got back in the studio to record some more. We can’t help ourselves! And “Making Friends With The Dead” and “As Good as James Brown” came to life.
I know I’m leaving out some titles and maybe some of these titles will change. No matter. After so many albums it all seems like one continuous river with various ports of call. I can’t judge if my songwriting has changed drastically over the years. I do know that we seem to make albums faster and with less soul searching then before. Aquashow brought me to my knees many a time and I still remember one night when me and my brother Matthew went out on the Record Plant roof and gazed at the stars over Manhattan and wondered and wondered where this would all lead to. And then in LA for Lost Generation where the skyscrapers of New York were replaced with the Palm Trees of Beverly Hills and later in London with the red buses and Just a Story From America driving on the left side of the road.
People ask me how many albums I’ve made and I don’t know. I think it’s over 25 but its hard to figure with the live albums and the Best Of collections. I use to think it was all magic but now I tend to look on it as my job: play shows, write songs, record albums, play more shows … Good work if you can get it!
Elliott Murphy, Paris, 22 October 2006