For the Love of the Beloved

Peter Murphy’s Creative Use of Sufi tropes




Peter Murphy, Sufism, goth music, Bauhaus, lyrics


Rock artist Peter Murphy (Bauhaus, Dali’s Car, solo) has drawn from Sufism in his lyrics since 1986. Throughout his career Murphy has been open about this but no one has analysed his lyrics before. This article illustrates and discusses how tropes from Sufi genres, such as poetry, hymns and tales, are reused and reformulated in the form of post-punk rock lyrics. Sufi tropes, combined with Murphy’s dramatic rock songs, empower him as a writer and enable him to create unusual, ambiguous, and dramatic lyrics. The songs rarely propagate Sufism; they are not Sufi songs and, indeed, are communicating primarily with an audience that cares little about his Sufi attachment. Nonetheless, by exposing the underlying Sufi frame his lyrics becomes more comprehensible. Murphy’s creatively carves out space for Sufism in a rock sub-culture otherwise know to flirt with nihilism. The article is accompanied by a Spotify playlist called "For the Love of the Beloved."



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Murphy, Peter. (1986) 2018. Should the World Fail to Fall Apart. From Peter Murphy, 5 albums. [CD]

Murphy, Peter. (1988) 2018. Love Hysteria. From Peter Murphy, 5 albums. Beggars Banquet Records. [CD]

Murphy, Peter. (1989) 2018. Deep. From Peter Murphy, 5 albums. Beggars Banquet Records. [CD]

Murphy, Peter. (1992) 2018. Holy Smoke. From Peter Murphy, 5 albums. Beggars Banquet Records. [CD]

Murphy, Peter. (1995) 2018. Cascade. From Peter Murphy, 5 albums. Beggars Banquet Records. [CD]

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Murphy, Peter. 2014. Lion. Nettwerk. [CD]

Murphy, Peter. 2018. Peter Murphy, 5 albums. Beggars Banquet Records. [CD]

Murphy, Peter. 2018. Peter Murphy Live in London. Live Here Now. [CD]


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How to Cite

Otterbeck, J. (2023). For the Love of the Beloved: Peter Murphy’s Creative Use of Sufi tropes. AURA - Tidsskrift for Akademiske Studier Av nyreligiøsitet , 13, 21–46.