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.

Nine-till-five:
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.

Poetic Preliminaries:

https://aphoristical.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/roxy-music-country-life.jpg?w=300&h=300

ROXY MUSIC remains one of my all-time favorite bands. I attribute my useless love of poetry in part to some of their lyrics. The cover of this very poetic record was always too hot to handle. I thought of pasting it in here but 5 of my 7 regular readers would be offended. It was risqué in 1974 and it is still so today. If you are curious you can always click HERE. The heavenly bodies distract us, yes, but it is the words that I am after.

I also love the Southwestern states of the U.S. where I lived for years.
And so I bring you two favorite Roxy songs: Prairie Rose and Amazona:

TEXAS . . . that’s where I belong / It seems to me
Lonesome star / Shine on / The big country
With open skies, and you for company
Oh prairie rose . . . how happy I should be

Hey hey . . . You can take it from me / Hey hey, I’ll be coming, you’ll see
Hey hey, oh what a state to be in / Hey hey, you’re tantalizing me

Texas: I will compose in fancy rhyme, or just plain prose
A song of praise / To you, Prairie rose
Though I’m not sure I can explain your strange allure
Prairie rose / A crown of thorns / A scented flower
Hey hey
I’d better leave right away / I can hear you calling me / Prairie rose

 

AMAZONA . . . is a zone where / there is no doubt / No more fall-out
Why don’t you step through the mirror and see?

From Arizona to Eldorado / Sure is a mighty long way.
Hey little girl / Is something wrong?
I know it’s hard / For you to get along

The bell-tower rings; it tolls a hollow sound
But your castles in Spain still maybe realized / And longings more profound.

You see, every cloud has a silver lining . . .
And sometimes paradise around your corner lies . . .
In Amazona everything is nice
Little one, come take my hand; I’ll try to help you there
I’ll take you there

Amazona’s getting closer / Soon you’ll see.
Journey’s over / We’re almost there!

Mother of Pearl

Turn the lights down / way down low
Turn up the music / h
i as fi can go
All the gang’s here / everyone you know
It’s a crazy scene (hey there just look over your shoulder..)
Get the picture?  No, no, no, no …  (YES)
Walk a tightrope ( your life-sign-line)
Such a bright hope (right place, right time)
What’s your number? (never you mind)
Take a powder (but hang on a minute what’s coming round the corner?)
Have you a future? No, no, no, no …  (YES)
Well I’ve been up all night (again?) / Party-time wasting is too much fun
Then I step back thinking of life’s inner meaning and my latest fling
It’s the same old story / all love and glory – It’s a pantomime
If you’re looking for love in a looking-glass world it’s pretty hard to find
Oh mother of pearl I wouldn’t trade you for another girl
Divine intervention – always my intention, so I take my time
I’ve been looking for something I’ve always wanted but was never mine
But now I’ve seen that something just out of reach – glowing very Holy Grail
Oh mother of pearl, lustrous lady of a sacred world
Thus even Zarathustra, another-time-loser, could believe in you
With every goddess a let down, every idol a bring down – it gets you down
But the search for perfection, your own predilection
g
oes on and on and on and on
Canadian Club love: a place in the country – everyone’s ideal
But you are my favorita, and a place in your heart, dear
m
akes me feel more real.
Oh mother of pearl – I wouldn’t change you for the whole world
You’re highbrow, holy with lots of soul melancholy shimmering
Serpentine sleekness was always my weakness; like a simple tune
But no dilettante, filigree fancy, beats the plastic you
Career girl cover, exposed and another slips right into-view
Oh looking for love in a looking glass world is pretty hard for you
Few throwaway kisses, the boomerang misses, spin round and round
Fall on featherbed quilted, faced with silk softly-stuffed eider down
Take refuge in pleasure- just give me your future, we’ll forget your past
Oh mother of pearl, submarine lover in a shrinking world.
Oh lonely dreamer your choker provokes a picture cameo
Oh mother of pearl, so-so semi-precious in your detached world.
Oh mother of pearl – I wouldn’t trade you for another girl
Roxy Music       © E.G. Music Ltd 1973