I have no way of knowing, of course, if Bryan Ferry wrote this one for Jerry Hall, but I’d like to think so. If anyone makes me intrigued by the idea of romances and broken hearts, Ferry does, and if anyone makes for a muse too elevated in glamour for this world, it’s Jerry Hall. I’m not entirely immune to the tragic love story, you know, especially if by ‘tragic’ you mean being made cuckold by Mick Jagger. Most devastating thing that could happen to a man of such wealth and taste. A possible step down for Jerry, from being Bryan Ferry’s great muse to being Mick Jagger’s third or fourth best one. (As if the idea of musedom were anything but a male-gaze fantasy anyway!) Anyway, I’m way too invested in decades-old rock star romances, and I like to say that I’m fascinated by the intersection of love and creativity, but it may just be prurience.
Spoiler, the only face Bryan Ferry sees is his own. And what a face! But seriously though, I highly recommend this live performance. It’s nice to hear Ferry stripped of his usual lush orchestration. We all know and love the production values that are his comfort zone, but all that atmosphere doesn’t always let his voice shine through. What a voice, though! With just the croon and the piano, it’s an entirely different level. I haven’t loved Mamouna as much as some of Ferry’s other albums; a lot of the songs just feel kind of forgettable (and it inexplicably has a horse on the cover instead of the usual ornamental semi-naked woman.) Which is why I love the intimate presentation here. It makes the song so much fresher for me.
This sounds like classic Bryan Ferry, straight from the 70’s. But, nope, this one only dates back to 2002. So, clearly, the old glamour god can still bust out of his rut when he feels like it. I think you know what I mean when I talk about a regulation issue Bryan Ferry album, and this isn’t one of them. I love regulation Ferry, of course, because of course, but I love it more when he gets weird and reminds us of just how edgy cool he used to be. Not grand old man cool like today, but genuinely subversive cool, cool beyond category cool.
One from the Ferry vault. It may be obscure to you, but it’s an essential. Bryan Ferry’s mid 70’s solo albums don’t get much credit, but they are all awesome. They sound a lot like mid 70’s Roxy Music. Weird, funky, campy, clever, hard to define. As per usual, Ferry sings about unrequited desire a lot. He’s not the first person to make that his great theme, but he does so better than most. In this case, there’s less the scent of English garden romantic gentility and more the seedy barfly side. As evidenced by the singer wearing a plain white T (!) on the sleeve. He certainly looks like he’s crept into a downscale disco on the bad side of town to find a nice commoner to share his cocaine bender. And you know that afterwards he’s going to send her home in a taxi with a little something extra for the road. Yeah, Ferry really lends himself to those kinds of fantasies.
Bryan Ferry being a bit overly dramatic. But isn’t just the boiled down gist of every unhappy love song, though? That’s what it comes down to; if one person fails to love you, all of a sudden nobody does. Or ever will. And you might as well wilt into crumbled pile of sadness. Ferry has composed a fair share of songs taking a dramatic emotional view of relationships, so to speak. Which is to say that romantic posturing is not at all out of character for him. In fact, it’s really kind of his thing. Thankfully, there’s always a slight element of camp, a splash of cool bitters to temper down any sign of true saccharinity.
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.
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.