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.)
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
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
Off the record you’re gliding;
Your lingerie’s a gift-wrap—
Send it to me.
The daily grind
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 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
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!
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