Where Are We Going Now?

Elliott Murphy - Photo by François Richard

February 10, 2021

Actually that’s one of the titles from a new batch of songs I’ve been working on along with “Hope” which I played many times during the Corona Couch Concerts – The Return. My goal is to get a new album out this coming fall or maybe very early 2022 depending on the status of the pandemic. Some of the new songs were co-written with Olivier Durand and some alone by yours truly and maybe some surprises too. These days I feel compelled to throw in a few cover tunes to show my roots more clearly. Hope you like my choices …

It seems like I’ve been following the same yearly workflow since I moved to Paris thirty years ago which comes down to trying to get out a new album each year. I figure that’s a reasonable output for anyone who likes to write songs and then feels the unrelenting need to record those songs, as if they are not really finished until that happens, which is followed by an overwhelming desire to perform at least some of those newly recorded songs before a live audience all over the world. At least that’s how it works for me. I also try to schedule my new album release around my annual New Morning Birthday shows which come around each March like clockwork for the past 25 years for two glorious evenings. Fans come from all over Europe, USA and Canada (and even Japan!) and in 2019 my wife Françoise organized a wonderful afternoon surprise party for me with all the true believers in attendance and it was wonderful. For those of you unfamiliar with the New Morning, it’s a legendary mostly jazz and blues club in Paris that holds around 500 people and was founded by the grande dame Eglal Farhi in 1981. Madame Farhi passed away a few years ago at the age of 97 and came to many of my shows when she was well into her 90’s. She was a classy, generous and elegant lady – they don’t make them like that anymore. Mythical music legends such as Chet Baker, Nina Simone and Taj Mahal all graced the stage of New Morning on rue de Petit Ecurie (which means street of the little stables). I might hold the distinction of having played there more than anyone (my first show at NM was in February 1989 and I’ve played there over thirty nights since) as it’s become my home base in Paris. I suppose I could move to a bigger venue but I love the intimacy of New Morning – I can reach out and touch my fans in the front row and they can hold up the lyrics to my songs. When I lived in New York I had a string of clubs like New Morning that I loved to play: Max’s Kansas City, The Lone Star, The Bottom Line and of course the old Tramps where I was in residence for years. I wrote a novel called Tramps which takes place there with some recognizable characters and it’s available in my website store.

Maybe I’ll write a novel that takes place in The New Morning with Hoover (the anti-hero of Tramps) reappearing in Paris.

I get new ideas for books and music almost on a daily basis but you know what they say about creativity being 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Gotta get down to it as Neil Young sang in “Ohio” at another time when America was as divided as it is today. Maybe it was easier back then to identify exactly what those dividing lines were and which side you were on. Back in the 60’s – you were either for the war or against it and for me it was an obvious choice. I put the blame on the political leaders of the time from both parties – the tragedy of Vietnam can be split almost evenly between Johnson who was a Democrat and Nixon a Republican and his successor. There is a wall to commemorate the 58,318 American military deaths in that war but no memorial to mark the 2 million Vietnam civilians killed. And as one of my favorite authors Kurt Vonnegut used to repeatedly remark with sad irony in his horrific anti-war novel Slaughterhouse-Five (at least to my way of thinking), So it goes …

I find it’s harder to work, to produce, and to be inspired when I don’t know where I’ll be – where the world will be – in just a few months’ time. All my February and March shows have now been moved to September and October. Hope they’ll stay that way. Come the first anniversary of the Corona Couch Concerts I will probably do a gala CCC show. Maybe some special guests. Stay tuned. Really thrilled at the response to the Middle Kingdom album made with Olivier Durand and Gaspard Murphy during the confinement. We pressed a very limited number of “first edition” signed and numbered and they are almost all gone so if you’re interested be sure to get your order in pronto. A follow-up is in the works with additional musical contribution by my talented violinist Melissa Cox.

News from Beauregard: we’re adding some “On and On with Elliott” live downloads soon with a suggested download price of 5 Euros. And if that wasn’t enough, this February all CDs sold in the store will be at the reduced price of 10 Euros. What else, for those of you who missed the wonderful Brian Jones documentary on ARTE TV here in France and Germany you can watch it on ARTE TV. I appear in the doc talking about how Brian influenced me both musically and sartorially and at the very end I sing “A Touch of Mercy” which has the line: “I was walking down Main Street just the other day thinking about Brian Jones and the final getaway.” And by the way, the phrase On and On comes from that song as well. So we might be confined and locked down but we’re in synch …

Photo by François Richard