Strange cat, Peter Murphy. He and his first band, Bauhaus, launched the Goth genre by combining Punk’s rage with Bowie-esque theatricality and an industrially raw sound filled with sex appeal. Or at least that’s my take on it. Murphy went on to have a wildly uneven solo career, artistically peaking (IMHO) with his third album, 1989’s Deep. If, that is, one can peak by going deep.
Sorry — that was a groaner, wasn’t it?
Murphy kinda-sorta converted to Islam around the time he recorded this album, but he didn’t go Full Cat Stevens. He moved to Turkey with his wife and infused some Islamic imagery and Middle Eastern sounds into his music. But he was also still singing stuff about vampires and whatnot. As I was saying — strange cat.
Nearly 20 years ago, a dear friend of mine told me that Murphy had stopped performing Deep‘s standout ballad, “Marlene Dietrich’s Favorite Poem,” because he couldn’t get through the song without losing it right there on the stage. I don’t know if that story was ever true or not, but here’s Murphy performing a relaxed and stripped-down version of “MDFP” in Seattle in 2000.
25 years later and it’s still one of my favorite songs on what remains one of my desert island albums. Maybe it’s true that our musical tastes ossify at age 20, but if so, it sure feels like I picked a lucky year to complete my second decade.