The Roxy Music crooner: Bryan Ferry’s 5 favourite love songs
“For me, music always generally has to be about emotion or feelings and there’s nothing stronger than the feeling of love.” – Bryan Ferry
There’s not much that Bryan Ferry could do and not impress his fans. The suave English singer, once the pulsating frontman of Roxy Music and the glint in the eye of glam rock, has cultivated a fandom that is truly unprecedented. Singers who found fame in the seventies have often also found themselves in the middle of a swirling ocean of avid audience members, one need only glance at the tribalism of the decade’s subcultures to see how highly those artists were revered by their followers.
What all that means is that Ferry need only chuck out a few words through his social media to keep his rightfully gained fans desperate for more. So when we stumbled upon this message from Ferry, shared through his Facebook account in 2013, we knew we’d make some people very happy. In the post, Ferry shares his five favourite love songs of all time and they are a schmoozy bunch.
Shared on Valentine’s Day in 2013, Ferry gave out his five favourite love songs to his followers on Facebook, and it reads like a soppy yet sophisticated list of doe-eyed must-haves. The list was compiled alongside NPR for a special Valentine’s Day episode of ‘All Songs Considered’. Ferry has always been regarded as a master crooner, and his twinkling eyes often cast him in the male lead role of many fantasies, his connection to the love song is a strong one.
With Roxy Music, Bryan Ferry, along with Brian Eno’s help, created some of the most forward-thinking rock sounds since Bob Dylan plugged in his guitar. Eno and Ferry cultivated an extra-terrestrial sound that relied on electronic technology that had previously been reserved for science lessons in high school. While Eno handled much of the technical aspects of music-making, Ferry grabbed everybody’s attention. Not only was he a sincere and searing performer, but his command of vocal tone and style made him unique.
Such a singular proposition meant it was only a matter of time before Ferry moved on from the band and saw his own star rise. It also meant that he was charged with picking up all types of different songs to sing and his album These Foolish Things remains one of the great cover records of all time. Truthfully enough, Ferry does also write many ‘love songs’ too, but they are so often wrapped up in the lyrical mystery that it can be hard to really understand. In 2013, the singer joined NPR for a conversation about love songs and Ferry picked five of his favourites.
Bryan Ferry took on the role of DJ for NPR and was asked about some of his favourite love songs: “Speaking of Otis Redding, ‘That’s How Strong My Love Is’, it’s a beautiful song and beautifully performed by him […] I eventually covered it actually,” said the singer, “One of my better efforts in the cupboard. You have to love a song if you’re gonna cover it and I love the feeling of that song.”
Ferry also picks out the classic number ‘Let’s Stay Together’ from Al Green, an artist who Ferry has also covered, providing a jumping rendition of ‘Take Me To The River’ that can blow the roof off of a venue. He also shares how difficult it is to write a truly great love song: “It’s such a universal feeling that you’re always trying to write a song that transcends barriers of language and so on. For me, music always generally has to be about emotion or feelings and there’s nothing stronger than the feeling of love.”
Hearing such a master speak about his craft is a rewarding proposition. When it involves the smooth tones of Bryan Ferry discussing the very essence and complexity of love and making music for it, with the added dose of sharing his thoughts on Roxy Music and the Bryan Ferry Orchestra, and we’re in muso heaven.
You can listen to the full conversation with Bob Boilen below and find a complete playlist of Bryan Ferry’s favourite love songs too.
Bryan Ferry’s five favourite love songs:
Otis Redding – ‘That’s How Strong My Love Is’
Al Green – ‘Let’s Stay Together’
Aaron Neville – ‘Tell It Like It Is’
The Shirelles – ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’
Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes – ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’