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Friday, October 2, 2009

Like a Great Gatsby/Elliott Murphy

This week Classics Rock! is observing Banned Books Week 2009 (September 26-October 3) by featuring songs based on frequently challenged books.

Elliott Murphy's 1973 debut album Aquashow features the song "Like a Great Gatsby," a reference to F. Scott Fitzgerald's Jazz Age novel The Great Gatsby, published in 1925. The song opens with the lines: Waiting for some dream lover like a great Gatsby/And then I look in the mirror and it's only me--a reference to the novel's rich and mysterious title character. Gatsby lives in the wealthy-with-new-money Long Island community of West Egg and pines for Daisy Buchanan, who lives across the bay in the wealthy-with-old-money community of East Egg. Gatsby fell for Daisy before he became wealthy, and social constraints kept them apart. Everything he has done--acquiring a fortune, throwing extravagant parties--has been designed to attract her attention. But Daisy is married now and lost to Gatsby, just as the narrator of the song seems to be addressing a woman beyond his reach (Use to follow you home/Hold on to you at dancing school and call you on the phone forever/But now your world begins with never). The line Do you ride on ancient ships under Dr. Eckleburg's eyes to heaven alludes to one of the key images in the novel, a fading billboard on the road into New York City featuring a huge pair of blue eyes behind enormous yellow spectacles. ("Evidently some wild wag of an oculist set them there to fatten his practice in the borough of Queens," speculates the narrator, Nick Carraway.) On his web site Murphy talks about the album's cover art: "I suggested that we shoot in the Palm Court of the Plaza Hotel because that’s where part of The Great Gatsby took place. . . . The white suit I had bought not far from Gatsby land on the north shore of Long Island. It was made in France and I still have it hanging in my mother’s closet. Maybe I should give it to the Hard Rock Hotel."

1 comment:

  1. Hi Larry Hughes,

    How do you and I get in touch with each other. I work with Elliott Murphy, handling his press. Thank you for including him--this is, of course, great poetic justice since Elliott is also a writer.

    Thank you,

    Anne Leighton