Paul Murphy

Paul Murphy


A very live artist, diverse and prolific songwriter in the folk tradition, Paul performs his catalogue of songs solo with his guitar or with a full band. His gigs often end in hysteria as he improvises a song based on audience suggestions. This modern minstrel now also sings with The Destroyers.


Paul's songwriting career began with a cardboard guitar when he was still in shorts and listening to Elvis on the wireless. With a pocket-full of songs he subsequently left Belfast's Folk scene to pursue his interest in new Folk Artists. Arriving in London as a 16-year-old in 1966, Paul was taken under Van Morrison's wing - he introduced him to his first publishing deal with Southern Music and accompanied him to his first London gig at the Marquee Club. John Lee Hooker was there and praised Murph's performance and, as City Beat said at the time "high praise indeed!" At this junction, the young Paul Murphy, determined that his songs should have the integrity of experience, shirked Tin Pan Alley and instead followed the example of Beat Poets, Guthrie and others - he opted for life on the road. Paul's passion and commitment has always been for, and remains with, the live performance - be this around a campfire or the Olympia in Dublin.

Living on the hoof, travelling, writing songs and performing regularly, Paul mixed with many of the seminal musicians and artists of the time: Lemmy of Motorhead recalls some of Paul's antics in his autobiography White Line Fever - a true story, merging Blackpool Tower, a Batman outfit and an incredulous Ticket vendor.

As a writer/performer he was able to develop his improvisation skills and to this day delights audiences with his ability to make up a song on the spot, weather solo or with a band. But his motivation for writing and love of words drove his music in other directions also and it was at this time that he wrote his 'folk-opera' "Tweedeleededeedee and Sir Rhubarb" which received its first performance at the Arts Lab in Drury Lane in 1968. The same show was later toured by a local Youth Theatre and won first prize in NI Youth Club's Drama Festival. The success of Tweedeleededeedee in combining music with drama spurred him also to write other musicals: the hard-hitting anti-racist drama "Rats" was performed by several companies and featured at the Handsworth Festival.

Paul's wealth of musicality means that his songs have a wide reach. All audiences from young to old can relate to his songs and talking blues and his great stage presence drove Ocean Colour Scene (who were then at the top of the Pop Charts) to invite Paul to tour as their solo support act including performances at the Olympia, Dublin.

And the interest continues....his ability to adapt to musical differences means he is now writing new material and re-working some of his songs, performing them with a 16-piece Eastern-European-style orchestra The Destroyers. Janice Long of Radio 2 commented on his performance with The Destroyers at Moseley Folk Festival, September 2006, "that was brilliant!" This has led Paul and The Destroyers to perform many gigs on the UK festival circuit including Glastonbury and Bestival 2007.


Shoplifters Talkin Blues

Written By: Paul Murphy

Back in the days of protest songs
When Saint Ives was Mecca
To hungry beats who walked the streets
And smoked more than tobacco
When conferences of washed out jeans
Ad hoc defined a raver
As a part-time runaway
Who is a premium bond saver
We lived above a boutique
A tall house upon the high street
A few doors from the Wimpy bar
The entrance down an alley
And many people came and went
Though no-one knew who paid the rent
So none would speak, not a floorboard creak,
When the rent-man came a’calling
Lord, times was hard and we was barred
From Wimpy bars and cafes
From boozers too where the seats were new
Because our clothes were dirty
Lord, times was hard we had no cards
And no dole was forthcoming
And most of us had caught pneumonia man
Out on the roadway thumbing
You know advertising slogans
Are created to provoke
And a Fray Bentos steak pie
Sure looks heaven when you’re broke
And religion’s always urged
Above all heaven must be sought
So the pie must be stolen
If the pie cannot be bought
It was thus philosophising
I went walking round the store
Basketing a few large items
Concealing many more
But property must be protected
They use sophisticated techniques
Like two-way mirrors and hidden cameras
To catch the thieving freaks.
And thus it was that on that day
This dreadful fate befell me
I was at the cash-desk casually wrapping
When at my shoulder a hand comes tapping
I turn around and what do I see
A supermarket manager growling at me
He weren’t offering no prize
That much was clear
So I thought it’s better time
I disappeared
I jerk to the left
I jerk to the right
And then I pull with all my might
I had him hypnotized yeeppee you
I jumped the rails
And off I flew
Out the door
Down the street
Past the policeman
On his beat
Thought he wouldn’t see me
I was moving so fast
Then he gave
His whistle a blast
But by that time
I was already scrambling
Over a wall
With the ivy rambling
I saw it was a churchyard
Jesus saves
I hid right down
Among the graves
I got my breath back
Got to contemplating
This here whole episode
I’ve been relating
And when I spread my food out on the gravestone
I got the feeling I wasn’t eating alone
Maybe it was the angel with the outstretched wings
Or maybe the way the small bird sings
In the silence after the ringing of bells
That says God helps those who help themselves.

Beatnik Talkin Blues

Written By: Paul Murphy

It was January 15th 1966
I was fed up with the shovels and picks back in Belfast
Thought I’d make the scene in England
Be a beatnik, grow my hair long and grow a moustache
I got a sleeping bag
Got a pair of jeans
Got myself some HP beans
Beatnik essentials
Set sail for the big scene over here in England
Gonna groove

When I arrived up in Blackpool town
I thought I was the biggest beatnik for miles around
I lived in a pad
Smoked on the old hashish
Took purple hearts and blueys
Eat Kitty-kat for breakfast
I was seen raving up and down the promenade
Having fun kind of hungry

Well after a while the scene got a bit of a drag
So I packed up my old doss bag
Heading down the line for London
Hitching all the way
M6, M1, petrol lorries mainly
Lorry drivers used to buy me fish and chips in the café
Give me a woodbine to smoke with my tea
It was just like heaven
Except Saint Peter wasn’t there

I arrived in London
Went down Trafalgar Square
All the other Beatniks were there
Long hair
Combat jackets
CnD badges
Seems they were protesting
About the H-Bomb
I thought I’d join them
Got myself a derelict round in Baker Street
Made the Soho scene
Up and down in the early morning
Stealing milk and yogurt
Having fun
Kind of hungry.

Then to 10 Downing Street I did go
Me and two others all in a row
We were protesting
About Irish Freedom
The Border
Mr Lamass
Pot laws
Any fuckin’ laws
We were anarchists

Arrived at number 10
Rapped on the door
Harold was sittin’ cross-legged on the floor
Smoking on a hooka pipe
Mr McMillan was loonin’ in the garden
Seems he’s an acid-head
Mary Wilson was out in the street
Having an argument with the milkman
She couldn’t pay the bill
Harry was spending all the money on drugs
A turned-on Prime Minister with the fuzz outside to protect him
We sat and smoked till the early mornin’
Then Harold said “hey man, it’s time you’re gone
You’ve gotta be seeing Lizzy round in the Palace
She’s got a smoking scene all lined up in the bathroom

I left Downing Street it was a lovely morning
Made my way up Birdcage Walk
All the birds were singing over there in Hyde Park
Gentle mist rising off the grass
Pigeons doing it all over the statues
It was a groovy morning

I arrived at the Palace
I stood at the gate
I said to the guard
“hey man, I’ve got a date with Lizzy
We’re smoking in the bathroom”
He showed me in through the back door
He didn’t want anyone to see me
I was kind of dirty
I made my way through the kitchens
It was just an ordinary Monday morning in Buckingham Palace
Porridge boiling on the stove
Last night’s dishes weren’t washed
There were traces of baked bean sauce all over the floor
It was a groovy morning.
I made my way up the marble staircase
Charlie and Anne came looning down
Out of their heads on LSD (money)
Just back from the centre earth
And Prince Philip came sliding down the banisters in a Chinese robe
With one of Elizabeth’s pink Ascot hats on
He’d just been to see the Maharishi
Transcendental meditation
Astral travel
He tried to blow my mind
He told me John Lennon was meditating under the staircase
That was too much for me
You’ve never seen no-one leave Buckingham Palace so fast
Not even Mr James Callaghan after the budget
I didn’t take time to open the gates
I climbed the railings and started running
Faster and faster across Hyde Park
Sunlight dappling patterns through the trees
Daisies and tulips swaying in the breeze
I reached Holland Road
Jumped on a tube at Nottinghill Gate
Made my way to Liverpool Street
And got the boat train back to Belfast

I arrived home safe and sound
And the moral of the story is a simple one
No matter where you go
No matter where you roam
Always remember folks
There ain’t no place like home

The Glen

Written By: Paul Murphy

‘Twas down in The Glen in autumn I first met you love
On that golden day you stole my heart away
Your honest eyes were bright, your smile so warm and welcoming
I was smitten to the core with our first kiss
So love began
From the sacred dam
Like a river song

And I wrestled with the angels to be with you
In your mortal frame I glimpsed eternity
And while the liberation struggle lit the streets at night
It was in your arms that I learned to be free
So our streams converged
Met and merged
Like a river song

And we left The Glen and sailed across the water
And we set up home upon a foreign shore
And we raised our children up to live with dignity
And your love was our roof and walls and floor
So our love grew strong
Rolled along
Like a river song

We had our ups and downs there’s no denying
But the shadows only magnified the light
And on summer days as you lay slowly dying
I glimpsed afresh your depth and breadth and height
And though our streams part
In my heart
Flows the river of love

Back to The Glen I return in the autumn time
Thirty years have been and gone since that first day
And as I spread your ashes underneath the foliage
I see you bright and bounteous as fragrant May
And I remember you
Rare and true
Yes I do


Written By: Paul Murphy

“Eurydice” we heard Orpheus cry
Desolate and broken
There was a tear dropping from each eye
But not a word was spoken
And he left as day was dawning
He packed his lyre he headed east
Said I’m going underground
In search of Eurydice

He caught the ferry across the river
Where the dark barges glide
Under foggy weather
To Pluto’s retreat upon the other side
‘Neath the rocks and heather
When the boat man asked him
Where it was that he was bound
He said “I’m going underground”
To rescue Eurydice

Pluto was contemptuous
Eurydice was ghostly pale
Orpheus was terrified,
But determined not to fail
He sang and struck his bargain
They headed for the light
When he turned and looked at her
She vanished from his sight

Orpheus wanders the world tonight
Each street lamp wears a halo
You might catch a song in smoky tavern light
Before he staggers from the table
In the street a nightingale sings
Somewhere high up in the trees
The song of Eurydice
And it puts his troubled heart at ease
The song of Eurydice

Leafy Lane

Written By: Paul Murphy

I met her down a leafy lane
On a day I well remember
And the sun lay on a feather bed
‘twas the first day of September
Every bird was busy chirping
Cricket in the hedgerows
Fuchsia drooping ruby earrings
That’s the way that she goes

And she led me out by Murlough bay
Across the sea the mull of Kintyre
Tattered mist around her jagged peaks
Like smoke from a whin fire
In and out the green waves dancing
Overhead the gulls fly
Fragile flowers among the rockface
Follow her till I die

At midnight in the market towns
There on gable end she painted
“Let’s tear down the barricade” she said
“Let’s get reacquainted
There’s room enough for all traditions
What the truth is God knows
Banish fear and superstition
That’s the way that peace grows”

And she led me through the city streets
Past the ghost of children playing
And a thousand cameras clicked that day
And missed what she was saying
Rich and famous flocked to meet her
With lofty acclamations
Turned and walk the other way
With their own interpretations

Oh my love she is a fragile flower
And her beauty is a pleasure
And the memory of that first sweet kiss
I will always treasure
And though I don’t know where she is
I’ll never rest contented
Until I hold her in my arms
And love is reinvented

Lagon Flow

Written By: Paul Murphy

I caught it at daybreak, from Queen’s Bridge
Shipyards below me, above the Cave Hill ridge
Where Napoleon in stony silence lies, got his ear to the ground
As up the Lough in the morning light, reinforcements steal towards town
He’s been here for oh so long, guess he knows the score
They’re looting and a-shooting on the city streets once more

All night long, down the torn streets
The horse-cries of hatred, and stampeding feet
Siren over gunfire like a banshee wail, echoes in the caves
From Milltown to Carnmoney cemetery, the dead turn in their graves
But they’ve been here for oh so long, seen it all before
Barricades and bloodshed on the city streets once more

The Lagan flows
River runs
Lagan flows
Earth wind and sun
River Lagan flows from Slieve Croob to the sea
From Belfast

Now the street lamps are lighted, and the city is quiet
No barking of gunfire, no rumour of riot
Just a big full moon in the summer sky, climbing high over Ards
From County Down spreading light around, on the docks and the shipyards
And up on Cave Hill Napoleon dreams, the only sound he hears
River Lagan flow through all the years

Lagan flows
River runs
Lagan flows
Earth wind and sun
River Lagan flows from Slieve Croob to the sea


Written By: Paul Murphy

These are the Shadowlands
Where all the best laid plans
Of mice and men just crumble.
This is the stony ground
Beyond the lost and found
Into the darkness stumble
Towards the light
In the darkness night

These are the Shadowlands
Where time runs through our hands
And there's no way we can stop it
We cannot stem the flow
So learning to let go
And navigate the rapids
Towards the light
In the darkest night

It's a cruel wind
It's a barren place
It's tears on skin
It's a salty taste
It's a silent prayer
It's an empty tomb
It's a flickering light
In the darkest room

These are the Shadowlands
Where memory weaves the strands
Of love and tears and laughter
Into the tapestry
Of was and yet to be
Now and ever after
That's the light
In the darkest night

It’s a thorny rose
It’s a broken gate
It’s a shrunken coat
It’s a missing slate
It’s a brooding sky
It’s a flooded strand
It's a swollen sea
It’s the Shadowlands

The Bard of Ballygobackwards

Written By: Paul Murphy

The Bard of Ballygobackwards lives down by the lough
He wanders round the grey town listening to the people talk
Scribbling in his notebook the things they have to say
And looking for a clue that might illuminate the way

Born a twin his father died when he was just a child
His sister grew up sensible but he just grew up wild
His mother wrung her hands for him let candles on the shrine
Till he became the alter boy who drank the alter wine

Now there’s a drunk boy in the choir loft with his willie in his hand
Contemplating masturbating he can hardly stand
The red faced organist in tears is racing down the aisle
She’s seen the one eyed devil with the sacrilegious smile

Ever after the outsider a stranger in the street
Buckling ‘neath the cold stairs of the people that he’d meet
He’d write his manifesto in the middle of the night
And recite it on the shoreline in the early morning light

“He wants an audience for the crocuses an encore for the rain
A meal for his stomach and an end to human pain
He wants a mother for each baby and a truth for every dream
He wants lovers for the lonely and peaches with ice-cream”

He’s the wild man of the belfry the orphan on the shore
A citizen of planet gloom anxious for the door
Racing down the ocean beach the sea wind in his hair
And diving through the wreckage on a voyage of despair


Written By: Paul Murphy

Saturday morning I was sitting by The Crown
Sleeves rolled up I had the windows down
I was smoking on a cigar stub
Van the Man on cassette
A half-a-day gone and not one fare yet
Then a crackling voice on the radio calls
23 to pick-up point on the Falls
The lights were with me
I was there in a flash
You learn to move quickly when you’re low in cash
He was standing by casualty
He moved towards the car
He climbed in the back, he said
“I’m not going very far,
Just take me up the road man
I’ll say when”
And suddenly I got that old feeling again

It’s a hijack, a gun in my back
A terrorist in the rear view mirror
It’s a hijack, a gun in my back
I say “hey you gotta let me go”

When you’re a taximan in Belfast
You know you’ve gotta be tough
I’d been taken for a ride before
I thought I’d call his bluff
I sank the boot and screamed
“I’m heading for the wall!”
He says “no friend, I mean you no harm at all”
Now I believe this guy has called a truce
I suck on my cigar stub and ease off the juice
Sudden cocking of a pistol
Cold steel behind my ear
And now I’m thinking “my life ends here”
All the way up the road
Not a checkpoint in sight
My kids are gonna be without their daddy tonight
Up through Ballymurphy out into the Glen
A lonely place where they find bodies now and then
And there’s a car parked up ahead
Down a deserted lane
I’m never gonna see my sweet Kate again
“Get out man”
He’s in no mood for talking
Got a gun pointed at me and says
“Start walking”
So I’m walking and I’m waiting
For his gun to explode
To blow my body all over the road
I’m walking and I’m waiting
But the shots don’t come
And suddenly my lead legs are beginning to run
I’m running and I’m running
All the way down the track
I’m running and I’m running
And I ain’t looking back
I’m running and I’m running
And I ain’t turning round
I’m running all the way to Belfast town

Because it’s a hijack, a gun in my back
A terrorist in the rear view mirror
It’s a hijack, a gun in my back
I say “hey you gotta let me go”
It’s a hijack, a gun in my back
A terrorist in the rear view mirror
It’s a hijack, a gun in my back
A terrorist in the rear view mirror
It’s a hijack, a gun in my back
I say hey you gotta let me go

Huck & Tom

Written By: Paul Murphy

TV brought me fiction
In a home where books were few,
Electrifying fantasies and daydreams;
Then Huck and Tom and the Mississippi
Overflowed in our front room
And for weeks my mind was Twain saturated.
Climbing out into the backyard,
Midnight on the Giant’s Hill
We built a raft and sailed it
On the golf links pond.

Tom Sawyer and that ol’ Huck Finn
There’s a pair of guys who really do me in.
They’re all togged out by the Mississippi shore
Feeding me dreams till I can’t take no more
Of their freedom and sweet imagination.

Big Billy Adams, one warm Sunday,
Doing a Tarzan dive
Ripped his toe on a submerged sharp boulder.
We all gathered around to stare.
He said, Fuck I think it’s amputated!
Mousey Howey, on the raft, over-stretched
And fell into the water.
There’s barbed wire at the bottom of the pond
To deter golf ball divers
When they drive it from the bunker with a number 9,
Over the trees into the water.


The Glen (EP)

Set List

Sets can vary from 15mins to 2hrs and 30mins