Stories And Songs

Elliott Murphy

August 9, 2020

I’m a performer by trade, a salesman of songs, a rescuer of misplaced emotions, the last refuge of marginal meaningful stories aided by an endless array of hopefully musically charismatic characters; all of this sprung from the same still mysterious source. Don’t ask me to explain or delve too deep into my inspirations for I fear if I do, they will desert me; ghosts don’t inhabit a crowded room. The truth is that I wrote stories before I wrote songs; my first effort being a contribution to my Junior High School literary magazine when I was 14 years old. Titled “Getting Away” (included in Garden City Stories currently on sale in the Store), it was the story of a young guy who lived in the suburbs, frustrated with his non-rock ‘n roll guitar teacher and so jumps into the back of a truck to find himself a stranger in a strange land – New York City’s Greenwich Village. He plays guitar in Central Park, meets a guy his age who takes him under his wing, and eventually returns home to his worried parents. My first try at fiction was probably nothing less than wishful thinking on my part because eventually I made that same trip from the suburbs to the city. I’m a city dweller by nature, I like knowing that there’s action right outside my front door any time and night. Somewhere in these night lights lies the answer…

In the early 1980’s I wrote another short-story about a musician trying to escape his past but in this case it was an American rock star named Jake Lion who disappeared in Paris after jumping off a bridge into the Seine in the 1970’s. Many years later, a one-time roadie of Jake’s is taking the Metro in Paris and hears a busker singing on the quai who sounds just like Jake. Rolling Stone magazine sends a journalist to investigate and the mystery grows from there. The story was called “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and this was the inspiration for the film Broken Poet which is finally available for viewing (in English and Spanish) on iTunes/AppleTV and other streaming platforms. Broken Poet was scheduled to premiere and open the New York City International Film Festival on March 26 with a theatrical release to follow but of course all of that was cancelled. So like so many other films that were caught in the tsunami of the COVID-19 pandemic my film has gone straight to digital. Aside from myself, Broken Poet stars Françoise Viallon (Dissonance), Michael O’Keefe (Homeland, The Great Santini), Marisa Berenson (Cabaret, Barry Lyndon), Joanna Preiss (Paris Je T’aime by Olivier Assayas) and features cameo appearances by Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa. Perfect summer viewing by the way with great views of Paris including Notre Dame before the fire. Broken Poet is available now on iTunes and AppleTV for rental or purchase.

Many new projects in the pipeline this summer so get ready for the big return. Like the 1966 hit by the Happenings – See you in September.

PS: The photo is of my post-Aquashow mid 1970’s band: Matthew Murphy (bass), me, Phil Lowe (drums), George Gates (guitar) and Jay Angoff (not pictured on keyboards). There is a TV performance of this band on US television on YouTube.

Photo from Matthew Murphy personal collection