She Sells: 3 Versions


An all-time favorite song.
Listening to the separate piano part makes me appreciate it even more.
Here is the 1976 album version:

And here, live, from 1975:

I finally understood, after years of loving this song,
that the title can be interpreted as a Spoonerism for Sea Shells.

Things I love about this song:

The jaunty piano intro where Paul Thompson comes in with that great hi-hat/bass triple thump . . . the tempo shifts to a slow bounce at Nine-till-five / the daily grind. . . and then again shifts at 2:40 in the original studio version above to an expansive majestic sound which ends the song. And the lyrics, like all Roxy lyrics, are poetically exciting, full of word-play and innuendo. Is it about a real-estate agent? A tailor doing alterations? A table-dancer at a gentleman’s club? A dealer in illicit stimulants? A Chinese ceramics collector? An Asian prostitute? Maybe all of that at once. Or maybe just a fantasy in the singer’s mind about his girlfriend. Who knows ? (only Bryan Ferry and God.)

She Sells

Now you’re talking in headlines
Up to the minute and free
Stop press, hold the front page
Up as a mirror—
Are you reading me?

Watch you walking in waltz time
A jigsaw puzzle in tune
Or are you faking a straight line—
To suit yourself too soon

Rather nouveau than never
Contemporary ideal
Some natural kind of poet might slow it
But she sells . . .
more my speed.

She sells country and modern:

Ancient western song
Of oriental confusion—
You so right, me so wrong

Now you’re fixing to fly me
Auto-erotic pleas,
Off the record you’re gliding;
Your lingerie’s a gift-wrap—
Send it to me.

The daily grind
Made-up eyes
Make up my mind
Same machine consuming me,
Consuming you . . .

Oh why, oh why
She sells . . . I need
Oh why love why
She sells . . . I need.

Roxy Fave: Serenade

Darkness falls / Around your window pane
A light still burns, but just a smouldering flame
Is it the end of another affair / An open engagement with gloom ?
Or will you be smiling when the sun conjures up
A broken spell au clair de lune?

Silhouette / As you draw the shade
Cloak of night / You know it’s tailor-made
G-Plan gymnastics by an everglow fire
Could never mean the same
As summer enchantment by an old mill stream
From courtly love to costly game . . .

Maybe I’m wrong for seeming ungrateful, unforgiving
Oh how it hurts now you’re finally leaving
I couldn’t take anymore . . .

Now’s the time! Let’s hide away / Sacred hours saved from yesterday
Boo-hoo willows weep around you still, mirror reflections of dew
But waterfall pages of an open book could shower new horizons soon
Call the tune / Will you swoon / As I croon / Your serenade


Here the soil is barren
Here, nothing grows but crosses

They know not what they do
You – your forgiveness falls as dew…

Nailed upon a wooden frame
Twisted yet unbroken
Open mouthed, a silent choir:
Understood, unspoken
Never was there heard a sound
Until the heavens opened

Now the tide is turning
To other-wordly yearning
Through the sun’s eclipse seems final
Surely he will rise again…

Out of the Blue

A subliminal beginning: that double beat that keeps pulsing harder – until the song ignites and lifts off into the atmosphere… Something about someone falling in love – or just getting obsessed momentarily (?) The spiraling end: the crazy upward soaring sound – like getting shot out of a vortex; out of the blue and into the stratosphere; out of the blue into the absolute freedom of space: liberation from gravity. It sounds like a piece of rocket burning up in mid-flight – or the sound of a passing comet…

One of the greatest rock bands ever. Yes.  It’s true.

 All your cares, now they seem oh so far away / All your fears I fear I once shared
Now I know there’s a future for all of us / Not so long ago, I was so scared
You seemed so sad; I could see through your twisted smile
So unsure – always confused
Pale blue eyes gazing down from your ivory tower
Through the haze all broken and bruised
Then out of the blue, love came rushing in / Out of the sky came the sun
Out of left field came a lucky day / Out of the blue – no more pain…
I don’t mind if it’s only a passing craze – throwaway lines often ring true
If I were you I would stay for a little while / If you were me would you walk out in style?Rocket girl2