These Foolish Things

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October 1973 is not a stop along the Great Rock Myth highway, but its import should at least be recognised with a plaque: “Here lies the deathbed of the tyranny of originality”. Despite its modest appearance and unheralded reputation, Bryan Ferry’s first solo outing, These Foolish Things, remains as much of a revolution in the head as the great LPs of ’67 or ’77, and its legacy is perhaps stronger than those totemic records by virtue of the implications it has for the wider rock and pop continuum.

The struggle for power between the singer and the song seemed almost over by the time of the album’s release: after the Beatles, how could a rock musician ever claim legitimacy or validity without writing their own material? There can be no sincerity or personal expression without originality, went the current line of thought. The song was king, and the singer was relegated to dank and smoky jazz clubs, a parody only fit to regurgitate the ideas of greater men in perpetuity; then came the hard rain, to wash the scam from the streets.

After the immediate and dizzying success of the first two Roxy Music albums, their frontman and icon repaired to Air studios in London to plan his next ambush of the pop vanguard, the standard-bearers of rock convention – and what greater convention than the mid-60s hangover that serious rock artists exclusively wrote and performed their own material? Just as ‘Re-make / Re-model’ had announced Roxy’s arrival and encapsulated their conceptual universe, so too Ferry’s take on ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’ presaged the album’s iconoclastic and eclectic vision: the protest movement’s most sacred of cows casually twisted to fit the will of music’s latest arch dandy, the hymn of nuclear paranoia fashioned into an anthem for the post-Altamont generation, two well-manicured fingers raised elegantly to the straightjacket of 60s purism and its crippling overemphasis on sincerity. This is pop’s jailbreak, organised by its foremost artisan and intellect. Ferry took Dylan’s masterful acoustically-strummed festival anthem and turned it into a throbbing electronic scenario, its fascination as much the curiously distant relationship between the singer and the song as the impeccable musical accompaniment.

The rest of the LP is no less satisfying conceptually – with no musical personality too intimidating for the fearless singer, we are treated to exquisite interpolations of the best-known works of many of the ’60s most revered icons: Brian Wilson (‘Don’t Worry Baby’), The Glimmer Twins (‘Sympathy for the Devil’), The Beatles (‘You Won’t See Me’) and Smokey Robinson (‘The Tracks of My Tears’). Invoking Ferry’s personal connection to the American pop landscape, the album flits from the bustle of Broadway’s Brill Building (‘Baby I Don’t Care’) to The Beach Boys’ Californian Sunsets, stopping over in the motor city (‘Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever’) as if to emphasize the greater structure of the country’s network of musical exchange.

 

Perhaps this is the greatest asset that These Foolish Things possesses: its varied source material serves as a panorama from which the dendritic course of post-Jazz music for the masses can be seen desegregated. If the 70s narrative is frequently portrayed as one of conflict between rigid and exclusive clans, whether political, social or aesthetical, then Roxy’s manicured mastermind asserts his position as that era’s glamorous go-between, a one-man movement of revisionism and unprejudiced appreciation for the entire pop panoply; it’s his party and we’re all invited – how can you possibly resist the call?

–Hal Norman, 2010

13. These Foolish Things

(Marvell/Strachey/Link)

Oh will you never let me be?
Oh will you never set me free?
The ties that bound us are still around us
There’s no escape that I can see
And still those little things remain
That bring me happiness or pain

A cigarette that bears a lipstick’s traces
An airline ticket to romantic places
And still my heart has wings
These foolish things
Remind me of you

A tinkling piano in the next apartment
Those stumbling words that told you
What my heart meant
A fairground’s painted swings
These foolish things
Remind me of you

You came, you saw, you conquered me
When you did that to me
I somehow knew that this had to be

The winds of march that make my heart a dancer
A telephone that rings, but who’s to answer?
Oh, how the ghost of you clings
These foolish things
Remind me of you

Gardenia perfume ling’ring on a pillow
Wild strawb’ries only seven francs a kilo
And still my heart has wings
These foolish things
Remind me of you

The park at evening when the bell has sounded
The ile-de-France with all the girls around it
The beauty that is spring
These foolish things
Remind me of you

I know that this was bound to me
These things have haunted me
For you’ve entirely enchanted me

The sigh of midnight trains in empty stations
Silk stockings thrown aside, dance invitations
Oh, how the ghost of you clings
These foolish things
Remind me of you

First daffodills and long excited cables
And candle light on little corner tables
And still my heart has wings
These foolish things
Remind me of you

The smile of Garbo and the scent of roses
The waiters whistling as the last bar closes
The song that Crosby sings
These foolish things
Remind me of you

How strange, how sweet to find you still
These things are dear to me
That seem to bring you so near to me

The scent of smould’ring leaves, the wail of steamers
Two lovers on the street who walk like dreamers
Oh, how the ghost of you clings
These foolish things
Remind me of you, just you

1. A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall

Oh where have you been, my blue eyed son?
Where have you been, my darling young one?
I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
Walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
Stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
Been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I’ve been ten thousand miles in a mouth of a graveyard

It’s a hard and it’s a hard and it’s a hard and it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a gonna fall

Oh what did you see, my blue eyed son?
What did you see, my darling young one?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a bleedin’
A white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children

And it’s a hard and it’s a hard and it’s a hard hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a gonna fall

And what did you hear, my blue eyed son?
What did you hear, my darling young one
I heard the sound of thunder that roared out a warning
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a blazin’
Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’
Heard one person starve, many people laughin’
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley

And it’s a hard and it’s a hard and it’s a hard hard hard hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a gonna fall

A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall (Page 2 of 2)
(Dylan)

Oh who you did meet, my blue eyed son?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met a young girl whose body was burning
A young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
Another man who was wounded with hatred

And it’s a hard and it’s a hard and it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a gonna fall

Oh what’ll you do now, my blue eyed son?
What’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m goin’ back out ‘fore the rain starts fallin’
Walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where people are many and their hands are all empty
Where pellets of poison are flooding the waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the colour, and none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountains so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand in the ocean until I start sinking
But I’ll know my song well before I start singing

And it’s a hard it’s a hard and it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a gonna fall
And it’s a hard and it’s a hard and it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a gonna fall
And it’s a hard and it’s a hard and it’s a so hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a gonna fall

2. River Of Salt

(Brown/Zackery/Zackery)

River of salt Flowing from my eyes
Seems as tho’ I can’t realize
My girl is gone
She’s left this town
River of salt
Keep flowing down

Day turns to night
Still the tears fall
Since we’ve apart
They won’t stop at all
River of salt
Your tears won’t end
Will I see
The Sun again?

3. Don’t Ever Change

(Goffin/King)

You never wear a stitch of lace
And powder’s never on your face
You’re always wearing jeans
Except on Sunday

But please don’t ever change
No don’t you ever change
I kinda like you just the way you are

You don’t know the latest dance
But when it’s time to make romance
Your kisses let me know
You’re not a tomboy

So please don’t ever change
No don’t you ever change
Oh promise me you’re always gonna be
As sweet as you are

I love you when you’re happy
I love you when you’re blue
I love you when you’re mad at me
So how can I get tired of you?
A lot of other girls I’ve seen
They know how to treat guys mean
But you would rather die
Then ever hurt me

So please don’t ever change
No don’t you ever change
Oh promise me you’re always gonna be
As sweet as you are
Please don’t ever change
Please don’t ever change
Please don’t ever change

4. Piece Of My Heart

(Berns/Ragovoy)

Didn’t I make you feel like you are the only one?
Didn’t I give you everything that I possibly can?
But Lord, the love I give you it’s never enough
But I’m gonna show you, baby, that I really can be tough

So come on, come on, come on, come on take it
Take another little piece of my heart now, baby
(break it) Break another little bit of my heart now, honey
(have a) Have another little piece of my heart now, baby
You know you’ve got it if makes you feel good

You’re out on the street (looking good)
And you know deep down in your heart that it ain’t right
You never, never hear me when I cry at night
I tell myself that I can’t stand the pain
But when you hold me in your  arms, I’ll sing it once again

So come on, come on, come on, come on
Take it, take another little piece of my heart now, baby
Break it, break another little bit of my heart now, honey
You can have a, have another little piece of my heart now, baby
You know you’ve got it if makes you feel good

Take it, take another little piece of my heart now, baby
Break it, break another little piece of my heart now, honey
Have a, have another little piece of my heart now, baby
Take it, take another little piece of my heart now, baby
Break it, break another little bit of my heart now, honey
Have a, have another little piece of my heart now, baby
Take it, take another little piece of my heart now, baby
Break it, break another little piece of my heart now, honey
Have a, have another little piece of my heart now, baby
Take it, take another little piece of my heart now, baby

5. Baby I Don’t Care

(Leiber/Stoller)

You don’t like crazy music
You don’t like rockin’ bands
You just wanna go to a movie show
And sit there holdin’ hands
You’re so square
But baby, I don’t care
You don’t like hot rod racin’
Or drivin’ late at night
You just wanna park where’s it’s nice and dark
You just wanna hold me tight
It’s so square
Baby I don’t care
You don’t know any dance steps that are new
But no one else can love me like you do
I don’t know why my heart flips
I only know it does
I wonder why I love you babe
I guess it’s just because
You’re so square
Baby I don’t care
Baby I don’t care
Baby I don’t care
Baby I don’t care

I don’t know why my heart flips
I only know it does
I wonder why I love you baby
I guess it’s just because
You’re so square
Baby I don’t care
Baby I don’t care
Baby I don’t care
Baby I don’t care
Baby I don’t care

6. It’s My Party

(Wiener/Gold/Gluck jnr.)

Nobody knows where my Johnny has gone
Judy left the same time
Why was he holding her hand
When she’s supposed to be mine?

It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to
Cry if I want to, cry if I want to
You would cry too if it happened to you

Play all my records keep dancing all night
But leave me alone for a while
Till Johnny’s dancing with me
I’ve got no reason to smile

It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to
Cry if I want to, cry if I want to
You would cry too if it happened to you

Judy and Johnny just walk through the door
Like a queen with her king
Oh, what a surprise
Judy’s wearing his ring

It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to
Cry if I want to, cry if I want to
You would cry too if it happened to you

7. Don’t Worry Baby

(Wilson/Christian)

Well it’s been building up inside before
I don’t know how long
I don’t know why
But I keep thinking
Something’s bound to go wrong

But she looks in my eyes
And makes me realize
When she says “Don’t worry baby”
Don’t worry baby
Everything will turn out alright
Don’t worry baby

Each morning I awake to find
The sunlight softly shining on her hair
And then I realize I’m wrong in thinking
That she really doesn’t care
There’s magic in her eyes
That makes me come alive
When she says “Don’t worry baby”
Don’t worry baby
Everything will turn out alright
Don’t worry baby

She tells me “Baby when you leave today just
Take along my love with you
And if you knew how much I loved you
Baby nothing could go wrong for you”

What she does to me
When she makes love to me
And she says “Don’t worry baby”
Don’t worry baby
Everything will turn out alright

8. Sympathy For The Devil

(Jagger/Richards)

Please allow me to introduce myself I’m a man of wealth and taste
I’ve been around for a long, long year stole many a man’s soul and fate
I was ’round when Jesus Christ had his moment of doubt and pain
I made damn sure that Pilate washed his hands and sealed his fate

Pleased to meet you hope you guess my name
But what’s puzzling you is the nature of my game

Stuck around St. Petersburg wWhen I saw it was a time for change
I killed the Czar and his ministers Anastasia screamed in vain

I rode a tank held a generals rank
When the Blitzkrieg raged and the bodies stank

Pleased to meet you hope you guess my name
But what’s puzzling you is the nature of my game

I watched the gleam while your kings and queens
Fought for ten decades for the Goth they made
I shouted out “Who killed the Kennedys?”
When after all it was you and me

Let me please introduce myself I’m a man of wealth and taste
And I laid traps for troubadours who get killed before they reached Bombay

Pleased to meet you hope you guess my name
But what’s puzzling you is the nature of my game

Just as every cop is a criminal 
and all the sinners Saints
As I end this tale just call me Lucifer
Cause I’m in need of some restraint

So if you meet me have some courtesy
Have some sympathy and some taste use all your well learned qualities
Or I’ll lay your soul to waste

9. Tracks Of My Tears

(Robinson/Arplin/Moore)

People say I’m the life of the party
Cause I tell a joke or two
Although I might be laughin’ loud and hearty
Deep inside I’m blue

So take a good look at my face
You see my smile looks out of place
If you look closer it’s easy to trace
The tracks of my tears

I need you, need you

Since you left me
If you see me with another girl
Seemin’ like I’m havin’ fun
Although she may be cute
She’s just a substitute
Because you’re the only one

So take a good look at my face
You see my smile looks out of place
If you look closer it’s easy to trace
The tracks of my tears

I need you, need you

I’m masquerading
My hope is fading
Since you put me down
My smile is my makeup
I wear since my breakup with you

Baby take a good look at my face
You see my smile looks out of place
If you look closer it’s easy to trace
The tracks of my tears

10. You Won’t See Me

(Lennon/McCartney)

When I call you up
Your line’s engaged
I have had enough
So act your age
We have lost the time
That was so hard to find
And I will lose my mind
If you won’t see me

I don’t know why you
Should want to hide
But I can’t get through
My hands are tied
I won’t want to stay
I don’t have much to say
But I can’t turn away
And you won’t see me

Time after time
You refuse to even listen
I wouldn’t mind
If I knew what I was missing

Thought the days are few
They’re filled with tears
And since I lost you
It feels like years
Yes, it seems so long
Girl, since you’ve been gone
And I just can’t go on
If you won’t see me
You won’t see me

11. I Love How You Love Me

(Kolber/Mann)

I love how your eyes close
Whenever you kiss me
And when I’m away from you
I love how you miss me
I love the way you always
Treat me tenderly
But darlin’ most of all
I love how you love me

I love how your heart beats
Whenever I hold you
I love how you think of me
Without being told to
I love the way your touch is so heavenly
But darling’ most of all
I love how you love me

I love how your eyes close
Whenever you kiss me
And when I’m away from you
I love how you miss me
I love the way you always treat me tenderly
But darlin’ most of all
I love how you love me

Love me, love me
Love how you hug me
I love how you squeeze me
I love how you squeeze me
Tease me, please me
Love how you tease me
I love the way you always treat me tenderly
But darling most of all
I love how you love me

12. Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever

(Wonder/Hunter)

I remember just before we met
That every night and day
I had to live with a life of a lonely one

I remember meeting you
Discovering love could be so cool
When it’s shared by two instead of the lonely one
When you said you love me
We could not be parted
And I built my world around you
I’m so thankful that I found you

Because loving you has made my life sweeter than ever
I ain’t never felt like this before
Loving you has made my life so much sweeter than ever

Each night I said we’d never part
For the love within my heart grows stronger
From day, day to day

As best I can, and how I try
To reassure you and satisfy
Cause I’d be lost if you went away

Cause I really need you
And I need for you to need me too
I have built my world around you (built my world around you)
I’ am truly glad I found you

Because loving you has made my life sweeter than ever
Loving you has made my life so much sweeter than ever
I’ve never felt like this before
Loving you has made my life so much sweeter than ever

Bryan Ferry - These Foolish Things

13. These Foolish Things

1. A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall

2. River Of Salt

3. Don’t Ever Change

4. Piece Of My Heart

5. Baby I Don’t Care

6. It’s My Party

7. Don’t Worry Baby

8. Sympathy For The Devil

9. Tracks Of My Tears

10. You Won’t See Me

11. I Love How You Love Me

12. Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever

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