The Right Stuff

Insert ‘mind blown’ reaction gif here. This here, this song right here, is the straw that broke up The Smiths. Apparently – and somehow I did not know it until just now – this is a rewrite of song by The Smiths. Not a proper Morrissey/Marr Smiths song that you would have heard of, but an instrumental B-side that Bryan Ferry handpicked as a potential hit, wrote some lyrics for, and then hired Johnny Marr to play session on. (Marr also played on the tour, and is prominently seen in the video.) Marr’s original composition, Money Changes Everything, does in fact sound exactly like a mid-eighties Bryan Ferry song without the vocal. Ferry has a bit of genius touch with picking unexpected things that suit his style, and Johnny Marr’s playing is perfectly suited for a Bryan Ferry album. Now that I think about it, having Marr on board might be part of why Bete Noire was so damn good. Ferry was right about the hit potential too; this was Bete Noire’s biggest single. Not-in-any-way-coincidentally, this was also right about the time that Marr left his day job for a less-illustrious but also probably way less stressful career as a journeyman session player. Obviously, Morrissey was in paroxysms of jealousy that Bryan Ferry would requisition one of the few Smiths songs that he’d had nothing to do with. He doesn’t directly say as much in his autobiography, but it’s heavily implied; he broke up the band because he felt ‘cheated-on’ by his songwriting partner for appearing in a Bryan Ferry video.

New Town

Never mind the racial implications of black women with feathers on their heads… Political context is not and never has been Bryan Ferry’s thing. He’s definitely presented some insensitive images throughout his career, but…but…but…I guess that’s not the point. I’m not looking to Bryan Ferry for any kind of commentary on anything at all whatsoever. His job, as he’s presented himself through the years, is to embody a particular kind of romantic fantasy. He’s stylish and dreamy, he mopes around in glamorous locales. He has great hair and his suits are well tailored. The real world need not – and must not – intrude on the fantasy.

The Name of the Game

What is the name of the game? This coming from Bryan Ferry, I assume it’s the sublime art of seduction, the game of romance. To call it a sport might sound crass and evocative of nothing better than predatory dudebros, but… it’s a sport alright. The sport of reeling them in and making them think it was their idea. Strictly catch and release, of course. No wildlife harmed. If you’re lucky you won’t get eaten or mangled by the prey. If you’re decent you’ll follow the campfire rule. If you’re classy you will feel no shame. You can never shed enough blood. You bleed and you lick your wounds and you return to the hunt.