Sign of the Times

Come for Bryan Ferry’s gleaming hair, stay for the Marcel Duchamp references. With Ferry, you really get the best of both worlds. High fashion sophistication, obviously, Ferry being the world famous dandy and bon vivant that he is. But moody posing would just be moody posing without intellectual ambition, and Ferry, having been both an art student and a teacher, knows his reference points. He draws his poses from old Hollywood and beyond that, from the greats of literature and art. Which makes him the ideal package, a man who dresses better than you do and has also read more books. In short, he’s probably an insufferable prig, but you want him anyway.

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Shame, Shame, Shame

Bryan Ferry does interesting things with cover tunes. It’s kind of one of his main things. Take something completely unexpected and obscure and make it over in campy lounge lizard drag. I don’t think anybody has made unusual covers such a strong career sideline. Who else would take a Jimmy Reed song and turn it into high glam? It takes away everything from the blues that¬† makes it the blues and comes up with… a Bryan Ferry song. And it works, like glitter magic.

Sensation

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.

San Simeon

Bryan Ferry evokes a touch of Old Hollywood with a tribute to the home of William Randolph Hearst. It sounds both sexy and slightly haunted. With the ghosts of movie stars past, of course, and the energy of the god-knows-what that went on at Hearst Castle before it became a museum.¬† Extravagant luxury makes a great cover for filthy proclivities, and lest we forget, that’s been what makes Hollywood what it is since the days when people like William Hearst helped invent the concept of Hollywood. That’s a great fit for Ferry, who took a lot of inspiration from Hollywood sophisticates and their louche ways. In glamour lies danger.

Same Old Blues

Bryan Ferry is hardly a blues singer in any conventional sense. He is, by most standards, barely inhabiting the same universe. But Ferry pushes the emotion buttons for a very specific audience: continental white people too effete and art-damaged to admit that they still have emotional functions at all aka me. I can’t really relate to real blues music – it’s too real! But I can relate to a man who wears a tie with a leather suit jacket. Nobody is pretending this is actually a blues song. It’s a ‘mope and smoke on the balcony gazing out to sea’ song, which is a very particular feeling to evoke.

Rock of Ages

If nothing else, it’s appropriate that the first song of the new year begins with the sound of a door creaking open. I’ve always that sound – it’s so full of promise. Other than that, there’s not much here that’s relevant to where we are now. Except, I guess, that Bryan Ferry provides some much needed grace and style, which are things we can only pray for in our lives.