I think the lesson here is that if impeccably glamorous people can’t have positive romantic outcomes, what hope is there for people who don’t lounge around in evening wear? Or, relatedly, only the impeccably glamorous get to experience the full gamut of romantic emotions in the first place, while the rest of us just have to settle for settling. You all know how I feel about romance – it’s a social construct that does more harm than good, on my bad days, and a sport on the good ones – but I did learn my lessons from Bryan Ferry. It’s that everything is better with fashion, and that includes being sad. Ladies, find you someone who looks at you the way Bryan Ferry looks at a good tuxedo.
Few hits from the golden age of 80’s New Wave (that would be the mid-80’s) have aged better than Shout. You could say that it has hardly aged at all. While Tears for Fears themselves haven’t exactly remained relevant cultural figures, their two hit singles have remained perennial. This is one 80’s song that hasn’t been curdled by time, saving it from the reflexive irony and condescension we reserve for nostalgia items we know are bad. Because it’s not bad, obviously, but there are a lot of songs that aren’t bad that still inspire a kind of revulsion because they’re so indelibly of-their-moment. It may have a grandiose chorus made for standing on a mountain, but it’s simple and accessible and easy to relate to, and the the whole standing-on-a-mountain thing may be corny, but at least they’re wearing normal clothes. It’s unfortunate that bad hair and design choices have the power to ruin good music, but it’s true, and look what the absence of terrible choices does for a good song.
In general, the less said about Mick Jagger’s attitude towards women, the better. By most accounts, it’s not great. So the irony in the title of his first solo album runs deep. Jagger can be weirdly clueless about some things – like the fact than nobody wanted to hear him make an ersatz Robert Palmer album – but he’s no dummy, and he knows enough about his own image to keep selling it. So I’ll guess that the irony was not at all lost on him, and you can give him some credit for having a sense of humor. This was, of course, the 80’s, when the so-called ‘war between the sexes’ was still considered totally harmless comedic territory, and the idea that some lady might be ‘wearing the pants’ in a relationship was a surefire laff-getter. It’s even more ha-ha-ha-hilarious when you imagine the wandering cock himself staying home and getting owned, presumably by a six-foot Texan amazon named Jerry. I like to take into account, though, what we know about Mick Jagger’s tastes, and the fact that he’s always been attracted to the kind of strong and accomplished women for whom dating Mick Jagger is only a footnote on their resume. Maybe he really does just want to be owned, if only for a little while.
Bryan Ferry really knows where his bread is buttered, so to speak. He perfected his formula in the early 80’s and doesn’t stray from it very often. I for one, can’t complain. No one else does anything like what Ferry does, so as long as he can go on doing it, all’s the better. Sophisticated and versatile mood music is a necessity, and I always turn to Ferry for all of my mood-setting needs. My mood rut lately has been “drinking champagne alone,” for which Bryan Ferry’s brand of romantic moodiness is ideal, but it’s also ideal for hot dates or parties. There’s really no better way to signal that you have eccentric good taste than by putting on a mid-80’s Bryan Ferry album.
Rolling Stones fans are pretty thick on the ground, and in varying degrees of thick in the head, but I don’t think I know anyone who wants to sit down and listen to Mick Jagger’s She’s the Boss. I don’t particularly want to listen to that record, either, and I own two copies of it. I also only somewhat want to see Mick Jagger dance in long underwear. But, you know, that record had some high points, some pretty fun silly pop songs, and this is one that I don’t mind putting on. I don’t mind hearing Mick Jagger complain about the pains of his jet-set lifestyle and high-glam social circle, and I sure don’t mind watching Jerry Hall wear lingerie.
If ‘drinking music’ was a real genre, the Irish would have in all locked down. Lots of people believe that Irish music just pretty much is drinking music by definition, while others think it’s just a matter of two separate things that overlap. A lot. They overlap a lot. Anyhow, nobody brought the proud tradition of Irish drinking music into the modern age with quite the same dignified panache as the Pogues. The drinking music culture would be unimaginable without them, not least because they wrote original songs that could’ve been pub staples from hundreds of years ago. There’s more to writing a drinking song than slurred words and fast fiddles; there has to be some emotion behind it, some clue as to why these people are doing this to themselves. There’s gotta be a feeling of tragedy. It’s usually a broken heart, or, you know, hundreds of years of political and religious oppression.
Some songs are composed on piano, some on guitar; this one was composed on a secondhand typewriter. That’s because Morrissey is not a musician and doesn’t play any instruments. He could, of course, just go around with a notepad like a normal-person, but in Morrissey’s world, it’s all about the aesthetics. And the image of the poet with his dry toast and his tea and his battered typewriter pretty much defines the aesthetic of The Smiths, and by extension, their fandom. Sad, but proud of it. Devoutly romantic but too socially useless to do anything about it. I too spent my teenage years clicking away on a thrift store typewriter. It’s wildly impractical, but the sound is very satisfying. It’s a great hobby for someone who spends too much time alone and really only sees other people as vague abstractions and doesn’t have any ambitions in life besides appearing poetic. My teenage self was not a Smiths fan. I just lived a Morrissey-approved lifestyle.