Friday, May 25, 2012

Elliott Murphy in Piermont, N.Y.

 (This piece written Sunday night, May 20th, 2012, 9:30-10 pm.)

It makes no rational sense, really. I drove 600 miles yesterday - from Columbus, Ohio, to Tenafly, New Jersey - to see Elliott Murphy perform tonight in Piermont, New York.

It's cool, though, gasoline is under $4 a gallon and I’m staying at my wife's parents' house in Jersey, so no hotels.  For those of you who find crashing with the in-laws iffy, let me say this: I started dating in 1968 at age 16.  From then until 2012 I've dealt with a LOT of parents.  (When I was 17 years old an irate father, who was profoundly disturbed by my ties to rock & roll and radical politics and who was deputy sheriff of a small Ohio town west of Columbus, actually pulled a gun on me.  And he wasn't joking around.)  None of the succeeding parents have been as easy to get along with as Debbie's dad, none has had a better sense of humor than Debbie's mom.

It makes no rational sense, really, that Elliott Murphy is playing at The Turning Point, which, while it is a great little listening room, has a capacity of 55 people, with seats for 36.  I came from Ohio, but Elliott came from Paris, France, for Chrissakes.  It makes no rational sense, really, because Bob Seger notwithstanding, rock & roll DOES forget.  It forgets that Elliott Murphy was once just as much a "New Dylan" as Bruce Springsteen until "Born To Run" roared into amphitheatres & stadiums and "Drive All Night" ran off the road into a ditch.  (Elliott deals with this disparity with a great one-liner during the show: "Bruce and I agreed years ago to divide up the venues, he took the 60,000 seat arenas and I chose the 90-seat clubs.")

But really, let's face facts, we're all adults here.  Elliott and his lovely wife Francoise did not fly across the Atlantic just so Elliott could play The Turning Point tonight and Rockwood Music Hall in New York City Monday.  They made that trip to witness their son Gaspard graduate from SUNY Purchase College, just a little ways over the Tappan Zee Bridge from Piermont. (Elliott’s one-liner for Gaspard’s graduation; "That cap & gown he wore is the most expensive piece of clothing I’ve ever bought in my life.")

It makes no rational sense, really, that by some wild coincidence I decided back in Columbus to bring my original Aquashow album cover from 1973 for Elliott to autograph and now discover in Piermont that he’s playing that classic slice of wax (my favorite album of all time, see The Best Of Everything blog entry, January 2012) all the way through in sequence to open the show.  And man, do those Aquashow songs sound great solo acoustic here tonight, almost 40 years after their release date.  I can’t really say there’s one dated concept or irrelevant lyric present here on this evening in the 21st century.  After the show I’m standing on The Turning Point stage telling Elliott goodbye and saying, "Can you believe it’s been 40 YEARS that I’ve been listening to these songs?  I don’t feel like a day older than 21 when I hear them.  They could have been written yesterday."

It makes no rational sense, really. I just drove 600 miles for a rock & roll show.  But that rock & roll show is by Elliott Murphy, an artist whose music I have loved for almost 40 years, since I first bought Aquashow at the Discount Records on the Ohio State University campus when I was 21 years old.  So right now it's 9:30 pm on a gorgeous spring Sunday evening in Piermont, N.Y., I'm leaning on a guardrail by a gazebo, underneath lovely starlight looking at the Hudson River running to the sea and the blinking red lights on the Tappan Zee.  It makes perfect sense, really.

© 2012 Ricki C.

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