A couple of Saturdays ago, Elliott Murphy played an amazing show at the Rockwood Music Hall on the Lower East Side. Featuring a mix of old and new (he just released his thirty-first album, Elliott Murphy
), the singer-songwriter played to a standing-room-only house. Many of the members of the audience used to regularly come to his shows around the city back in the Seventies and Eighties, before he moved to Paris, France.
Elliott Murphy performing at the Rockwood Music Hall,
December 11, 2010. Photo by Kevin Avery.
Earlier this week, he was the featured DJ on Sirius XM Radio's E Street Radio channel. Spending an hour spinning a mixture of his own songs and his friend Bruce Springsteen's, Murphy kicked off the show by quipping that he'd always thought E Street Radio "stood for Elliott Street Radio."
After playing his favorite Springsteen song, "Downbound Train" (because of the line "Now I work down at the carwash/Where all it ever does is rain"), Elliott said: "I just thought I'd mention a very mythical figure who appears both in my own story and that of Bruce's, as well. It was a rock critic by the name of Paul Nelson. Paul came from Minnesota, went to college with Bob Dylan, and is credited with turning on Bob to Woody Guthrie albums, which Bob 'borrowed' from Paul's dormitory room (and that's a whole other story).
"But Paul Nelson was the first man who ever mentioned Bruce Springsteen to me. Paul was working in A&R at Mercury Records and I was down in the streets looking for a record deal. I just happened to get an appointment with him and he gave me a copy of Bruce's first record, Greetings from Asbury Park
, which I just thought was amazing. Here was a guy who kind of was thinking the same way I was, I thought. Paul took me to see Bruce at Max's Kansas City on Park Avenue South. It was an amazing show. And that's how Bruce and I first met. That was 1973, in January. A long time ago. The friendship has continued all these years.
"Paul sadly passed away a couple of years ago," Elliott said, "and they found some notes." He didn't go into the details, but he was referring to a Post-it note that I'd found in Paul's apartment after his death. Paul used to make tons of CDs for himself of his favorite songs. He often put Post-it notes on his CDs to remind him of which ones he liked. The note in question listed three songs off of Murphy's Soul Surfing
album from 2002: "Come on Louann," "Fix Me a Coffee," and "Nothing Can Take the Place of You." Sharing space on the same note was the version of "Romance in Durango" from Bob Dylan's Live '75
Which is why this week, on Elliott Street Radio, Elliott Murphy dedicated "Come on Louann" to Paul Nelson. Copyright 2010 by Kevin Avery. All rights reserved.