In Every Dream Home a Heartache – Part 1
In Every Dream Home a Heartache (1973)
In Every Dream Home a Heartache (Live, Musikladen 1973)
In Every Dream Home a Heartache (Live, Viva! Roxy Music)
In Every Dream Home a Heartache (Live, 1979)
I loved free-form jazz and the stuff like that and also psychedelia; what was happening on the West Coast or the East Coast was more about freedom, not being constrained.
“You just blew my mind!”
In 2012, Roxy guitarist Phil Manzanera recorded a collaborative album of music and poetry dedicated to the life and work of Jimi Hendrix. Nth Entities made perfect sense as a Manzanera project for the Roxy guitarist shares with Hendrix the same qualities of innovation, control, attention to texture, and when needed, tenderness and savagery in equal measure. Not known for a flashy style or presence (no playing guitar with his teeth!), Manzanera nevertheless brought to Roxy Music a creative and technical ability that provided the band with many of their best moments. Perpetually in lock-step with band-mate drummer Paul Thompson, Manzanera gave Roxy the fuel needed to move beyond pure art-pop and forge a heavier progressive rock sound when needed. The Manzanera/Thompson groove not only attracted the attention of the future punks of ’77 but also served to tickle the elbows of the art crowd – Kate Bush, Japan, Human League, Simple Minds and many more. Which brings us to ‘In Every Dream Home a Heartache‘: just how did a song partly based on the religious poetry of John Donne and one man’s intimate relationship with an inflatable doll turn into an inspired slab of musical insanity, of progressive and unapologetic rock psychedelia? Well my friends, it’s all in the last line of the song: Love. Reverence. Irony. Shock. Awe. And the rest, as they say, is history.I. Blown to Bits
Praying at the altar of consumable goods, our jaded narrator breathes life into his inflatable disposable darling and in return has an epiphany of God. Or, if you rather, in return for the breath of life he is given an exceptional, mind-blowing orgasm. It is probable we all favor the latter, for all sorts of good reasons, but consider for a moment the tortured steps the narrator takes before he arrives at his climatic release. The song is about perception, and explores his ability to see things as they really are. At first he comes off as reasonably sane and insightful:
In every dream home a heartache (observation)
and every step I take (statement)
Takes me further from heaven (observation)
Is there a heaven? (question)
I’d like to think so (observation)
Penthouse perfection (statement)
but what goes on? (question)
What to do there? (question)
better pray there (statement)
What is interesting is that the closer he gets to his disposable darling, the clearer things become for him, the less clear they become for us. At the start of the lyric the narrator’s questions are legitimate, even perceptive, but we gradually see him move further away from what might be considered a general grip on reality:
I bought you mail order (statement)
my plain wrapper baby (introduced personification)
Your skin is like vinyl (erroneous metaphorical observation – the skin is vinyl)
the perfect companion (impractical observation)
You float in my new pool (macabre observation)
Inflatable doll my role is to serve you (bizarre statement)
Disposable darling can’t throw you away now (impractical idolization)
Immortal and life size my breath is inside you (impractical deification)
I’ll dress you up daily and keep you till death sighs (anthropomorphism gone amok)
Inflatable doll lover ungrateful (personification gone amok)
I blew up your body but you blew my mind!
And here in the climatic (and famous) line we arrive at something quite different, a change in word choice and vernacular. Our tortured and articulate narrator suddenly tosses off a run-of-the-mill hippy cliche like “blew my mind” – a phrase that could be placed squarely at the gates of the Grand Palace of Hippy Cliches. The phrase sticks out as surely as the one Ferry used in a 1978 interview (Darkness Falls: Ferry in the Confessional), where he responds to a critical mauling by a junior music paper writer – “You can’t get away with saying that I have nothing to say to humanity, man. That’s just too heavy a thing to say about anybody.” It the use of “man” and “heavy” that stand out in Ferry’s lexicon here as he calls up his 60s roots, perhaps even self-consciously wrestling with his verbal anxiety, the kind of anxiety noted in ‘Strictly Confidential‘ as Tongue tied the thread of conversation/Weighing the words one tries to use. “Blew my mind” is a specific choice then in an unfolding narrative that tries to record the transition of a 60s mind-shift to the postmodern weight of the 70s. Consider for a moment the cliched variants of “blew my mind” as it relates to 60s rock hero Jimi Hendrix, selected at random on a brief archive search (don’t try this yourself at home):
“Jimi Hendrix, a fantastic American guitarist, blew the minds of the star packed crowd who…” – review, Chris Welch, Melody Maker
“I heard Hendrix playing Are You Experienced and I said, “What the fuck is this?” It blew my mind!” – interview, Leslie West, guitarist, Mountain.
“He got up and blew everyone’s mind!” – interview, Eric Clapton, guitarist.
“When Jimi Hendrix Came to Washington and Blew its Mind” – article headline, David Montgomery, Washington Post
It’s been 50 years since Hendrix’s ‘Electric Ladyland’ blew our minds – album review headline, Timeline
And so on. Now, with a writer as fastidious as Ferry we know something is going on here. For starters, he reverts to linguistic cliche – a form of found-object or “ready-made” already used in ‘Editions of You’ – which, based on the Hendrix quotes, is a hackneyed cultural cliche obviously much loved by musicians, journalists and the public. Ferry is having fun here at his generations’ use of language and is packaging and presenting the phrase in the ‘knowing’ context of an early 70s zeitgeist. Moreover, he presents the phrase in a context that teases out the mind/body connection so beloved of the LSD/Psychedelics crowd: for example, I blew up your body has both destructive and life-giving connotations. In Part 1 we saw that breath was an essential element in the song: “Oxygen, the essential element of life, is provided to the doll – My breath is inside you – but the gesture is futile: she “floats” in his new pool, dead to everything but the life he invents for her.” The irony of course is that he thinks he is giving the doll life, but this is physically impossible as she is made of latex. (Dolly don’t surf!). He is however bringing her to life through an act of the imagination, and this is really the kicker of the song: blew up your body/blew up my mind is a definitive attempt by Ferry to explore the correlation between the two states of being, and is a continuation of the themes of displacement and alienation that populate For Your Pleasure, where physical experience, such as the haunted ‘evening shadows’ of ‘Strictly Confidential‘ shift to terrors of the mind (Sometimes I wonder if they’re real/Or is it my own imagination). Reality shifts to the figmental over the course of that song, and as a result a question is asked: which of the two states has more validity and just what is, in the words of ‘Virginia Plain‘, real and make believe?
‘In Every Dream Home’ is structured in a way that we can experience the mind/body transition for ourselves, and it is a fascinating journey, as we watch the narrator’s “every step I take” become a snapshot of the brain working through it computations: reality/ heaven (Verse 1); perception/comfort (Verse 2); creativity/ transcendence (Verse 3). The punning blew up your body is given its full expression as it transitions into you blew my mind and – BAM!- the narrator experiences the shuddering, thunderous spiritual epiphany he was seeking at beginning of the song.
And so we are off again, at the point where For Your Pleasure is beginning to confirm our suspicion that it is a concept album in all but name, a courageous analysis of a subjective state akin to art making or even madness, as Ferry describes himself as someone who is usually “on the inside looking out, or the outside looking in” (BBC) – the classic situation of the artist in society. The mind is blown, the fuse lit and pure creativity pours forth into the cosmos, past the recollected historical artifacts of ‘Do the Stand‘, past the ‘solo trip to the stars’ of ‘Beauty Queen‘, past the internal mind-soaked terrors of ‘Strictly Confidential‘ and outward – dislodged from shared human experience or, in the case of ‘Dream Home’, moral worth. There is no celebration in this epiphany: when the physical world transfers its powers to the mind and the mind alone – the mind, that dangerous instrument that, in the words of Ferry’s favorite religious poet John Donne, is the root of our “decaying faculties” – there can only be breakdown and loss, for we are physical beings, no matter how far we drift away from nature in this modern world – with our narrator’s striking realization caught echoing across oceans of time and emptiness:
Oh heartache, dream home heartache
Oh heartache, dream home heartache
Oh heartache, dream home heartache
Oh heartache, dream home heartache
II. Careful With That Axe, Phil
Why isn’t Jimi Hendrix regarded as one of the [20th] century’s great composers? … Why is he not spoken of like John Cage? He is somebody who defined the way people think about music.
You got me blowin’, blowin’ my mind
Is it tomorrow, or just the end of time?
Jimi Hendrix, ‘Purple Haze’
The psychedelic impulse in 60s pop music started out innocent enough – the brilliance of The Beatles melodic song-writing applied to tabla drumming, tape loops, backwards guitar and manipulated vocals (‘Rain’/’Tomorrow Never Knows’) and the multi-layered masterpiece ‘Good Vibrations’ by The Beach Boys being arguably the high points – but the founding fathers in San Francisco (Owsley Stanley/Ken Kesey) watched as the original impulse morphed from whimsy & Tolkien to bad trips & violence. In England, Syd Barret’s Pink Floyd (‘The Scarecrow’/’Interstellar Overdrive’) strove for originality and insight, while in America Jefferson Airplane (‘White Rabbit’/’Somebody to Love’) spoke of a communal experience strong enough that the normal size of their native Haight-Ashbury swelled in the Summer of Love from 15,000 to around 100,000 (Wiki). In reality, most “psychedelic” music from the period is teeth-grindingly awful – along the lines of say, ‘Yellow Balloon‘ by The Yellow Balloon – but what exactly defines psychedelic music, or, as it’s also known – the psychotomimetic experience?
At its most basic level, psychedelia is defined by the way individual receives external stimuli – in short, how we experience or make sense of reality (a key Roxy Music topic). Experts suggest the core tenets of the psychedelic experience can be grouped into three distinct effects: dechronicization, depersonalization, and dynamization (Hicks). Dechronicization essentially messes with our perception of time; depersonalization is when the user loses the self or the ID to a greater power such a community, Planet Earth, the Universe, or just a very good dance party; and dynamization, as [Timothy] Leary noted, makes everything from floors to lamps seem to bend, as “familiar forms dissolve into moving, dancing structures” … Music that is truly “psychedelic” mimics these three effects (Wiki).
The psychedelic affect, while generated most readily with LSD, magic-mushrooms, and MDMA can also be the outcome of mental illness or “schizoaffective disorder,” which is characterized primarily by symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations or delusions, and symptoms of a mood disorder, such as mania and depression (nami.org). For Your Pleasure does a very good job of exploring these conditions, and we have discussed Bryan Ferry’s interest and presentation in different states of being, whether they be presentations of character and condition (‘Chance Meeting‘/’If There is Something‘) or mental illness (‘Strictly Confidential‘/In Every Dream Home‘/’Still Falls the Rain‘). As Roxy critic Michael Bracewell has noted, Ferry’s desire to “create, derive in great part from a sense of alienation and the classically romantic impulse to seek moments of transcendence from the mundane and the known” (Bracewell). In short getting outside of yourself through art-making, game-playing or drugs, does sometimes replicate the state of an unhealthy mind, and can, for some, be the driving factor of the artistic or creative sensibility (see: Syd Barret; Brian Wilson). Thankfully, during his work with Roxy Music, Bryan Ferry was able to examine these alternate experiences with seriousness and true insight, and did not cheapen their impact by providing the crutch or gimmick of drug-taking as metaphor, as so many groups did in the early 70s, including Hendrix and The Beatles. That is, not until the penultimate line of ‘Dream Home’ enters the frame and the unexpected hippy trope spills out. As a last attempt at lucidity before the doors close in, the narrator steps back to consider the emotional transaction between him and his perfect dolly: he gives her life, she is ungrateful – yet in spite of it all, in his mind, his is the net gain: he peers over the edge of the cliff and then transcends it. The madman blows up the building and kills the innocent. The dream becomes the reality. A new home is invented. Is there a heaven? Not anymore.
The song is of course saved from its own black hole by the punchline, delivered in a camp and affected way by Ferry – an obvious use of a rock n’ roll cliche in order to release tension from a dark narrative. The track has long been a live favorite, as Phil Manzanera recalled: “the audiences used to love it. There’d be an inflatable doll that some joker would buy and bring to the gigs. You’d see this thing bobbing towards you from the back of the hall, coming over people’s heads!” (Reynolds). And referencing the 60s mindset and slang was nothing new in the early 70s – David Bowie in particular made a habit of using hippy cliches in his lyrics – Ziggy Stardust is full of them: freak out/lay it on/outta sight/don’t lean on me man etc etc. In this playful referencing, Ferry and Bowie share the same strategy of drawing attention to rock history as a narrative – inauthentic, plastic, malleable. As mid-to-late 60s art school alumni, both Ferry and Bowie were imbued with the burden of pop music’s relationship to politics and culture. But by the early 70s the question of rock changing the world had (albeit temporarily) been shelved, as Bowie’s own Young Dudes were quick to point out: And my brother’s back at home/With his Beatles and his Stones/ We never got it off on that revolution stuff/What a drag/Too many snags. Yes, Ziggy Stardust might have been a real-life space invader but he was almost certainly a fake rock star who followed the template and moves laid out by his predecessors Elvis, Vince Taylor, and The Legendary Stardust Cowboy.
For his part, Bryan Ferry was writing entire songs (‘Virginia Plain’/’Beauty Queen’/ ‘Editions of You’) that were aimed at sending up the idea of 60s authenticity and earnestness. And true to form the punchline to ‘Dream Home’ offered a wink and a nod because the modern audience was hungry for inclusion and distance, as well as wit, and the introduction of a knowing irony later later designated as postmodernism. Glam was self-conscious and arty, even when handling difficult subjects. As usual, Brian Eno captured the zeitgeist best: “All we are saying is at least enjoy the luxury before it’s too late…If the apocalypse does approach, at least rock music can now greet it in true decadent style” (quote, Viva). Indeed, for all their sophistication and artistic depth, Roxy were very capable of shrugging their shoulders and going “what the hell, let’s just have a good time” (party time wasting is too much fun). The presentation of the problem was what mattered: the narrator is becoming increasingly unhinged by the experience of living a modern, disconnected life. The solution, however, is nowhere to be seen.
Musically, the “blew my mind” punchline serves to resolve the harmonic tension built up in the song – Bryan Ferry’s early writing often repeated chord structures with no harmonic resolution (‘Virginia Plain‘/’Pyjamarama‘) and in ‘Dream Home’ the D# F# F G# cycle serves the rhythmic consistency until the tick-tick monotone and increasing madness make our ears yearn for some respite. And it’s unclear if you could call it respite: the music stops with a thump from Paul Thompson‘s drums, Ferry offers his 1960s tag line and in return the band provide the definitive and – let’s be honest – extremely obvious reply: a rock n’ roll explosion in the form of a thunderous guitar and drum solo, frenetic in its desire to match the originality and heights of the lyrical narrative. This is joyful music and echoes and confirms what Pete Townshend called rock music’s “bloody explosion”:
It’s the event. That’s what rock and roll is. That is why rock and roll is powerful. It is a single force. It is a single impetus and it’s a single force which threatens a lot of the crap which is around – Rolling Stone, 1968
Roxy Music invite their audience to get out of their heads, to live, to transcend the common currency of work, health, responsibility, boredom, politics, and society. This is why the break is such a live favourite – it invites the audience to participate in an incredibly visceral experience – it’s physical – it cannot be translated into language or lyric: you either feel, or you don’t.
‘In Every Dream Home A Heartache’ was a weird one. Bryan didn’t lay down any vocals for that, it was just an instrumental. He said he wanted the end to be “psychedelic“, so we just put some phase on it, ha ha.
Chris Thomas, co-producer, For Your Pleasure
It is telling that Ferry’s instruction was for the ending to be psychedelic. As the album’s journey unfolded and singer/song-writer continued to interrogate internal states of mind and their relationship to art and society, it is useful to recall that Ferry artistic goal was to “seek moments of transcendence from the mundane and the known” (Bracewell). This then would have been the musical mandate the lyric pointed to in the recording studio and the message Ferry would have given the band: transcend the moment, escape the real, blow my mind.
For a collection of musicians as expressive and articulate as Roxy Music, coupled with the skill and experience of co-producer Chris Thomas (Beatles/Pink Floyd) and AIR Studios’ 16-track recording capability (rare, most studios of the time only had 4-track, including Abbey Road), there would have been recognition of an opportunity to pay proper homage to the music that had influenced and moved them all only a few short years before: 1960’s freak-out psychedelia. With Ferry’s wish for a psychedelic ending there was an opportunity to update the cliches of the 60s and, on a more serious level, to take the pressures of modernity and place them in a contemporary context. Think of it as The Doors ‘The End‘ edited onto Francis Ford Coppola‘s swirling napalm in Apocalypse Now verses Michelangelo Antonioni‘s use of Pink Floyd‘s ‘Careful With That Axe Eugene‘ for the exploding mansion climax of Zabriskie Point. Yes, everything explodes real good in both these movies, but the explosion of existential and social angst is offered as a serious social and artistic reference point: the destruction of Colonel Kurtz’s compound articulates the end of War and the hope of re-birth; the destruction of the Zabriskie mansion in the desert strives for the end of Consumerism and the demand for re-birth. What actually happens to these ideals is a different matter entirely: For The Doors, ‘The End’ would become literal, as the band used the song to close their last live performance in December 1970. For Pink Floyd, the angst of ‘Eugene’ turned into the lunatic song-cycle of Dark Side of the Moon – the multi-platinum mega seller that would provide the members of the Floyd with consumer wealth beyond their dreams (so much for exploding that mansion). And for Roxy Music, ‘In Every Dream Home a Heartache‘ was an existential cry never to be repeated: the musical reference was Jimi Hendrix; the theme was transcendence, and the final outcome of the song the surprising ability to come back home again.
Instrumental Coda – 1
Was it an interesting experience for you to record “For Your Pleasure” (1973) at AIR Studios?
That was a magic time, actually. The time that we met the great producer Chris Thomas. He helped us incredibly with the sound and brought all the knowledge of working with The Beatles and George Martin (The Beatles producer) to us. We learned from him about recording with this classical, traditional English method of recording. At the same time we had an experimental side, which is part of our ingredients. Brian Eno and myself, we were experimenting and Chris used some wonderful professional recording techniques to us, and we learned that as well.
Described by one scribe as a “furious jam from hell” (Krajewski) the instrumental coda of ‘In Every Dream Home’ is a structural microcosm of the song as a whole, broke into two parts of one minute each, both quite different from each other yet containing their own mirror image in each. Our narrator elicits his weary monologue (1/1), triggering an instrumental release (1/2); the instrumental goes bang (2/1), then fades and returns in an altered state, warped, sweeping, re-absorbed into the imagination, back home again (2/2).
The fun starts at 3.07 with the camp and multi-tracked Ferry delivering his famous punchline and Paul Thompson and Phil Manzanera kicking into the marvelous instrumental. Manzanera plays a clean multi-note refrain twice before the cycle splits at 3.20 and the notes break apart as the first flanger effects are administered by co-producer Chris Thomas and team. The modulation increases between 3.20–3.48, yet we can still hear the primary guitar line clearly as Manzanera plays a la Hendrix, striking multiple quarter/half-notes while working his way up and down the fretboard. Thompson’s well-recorded drums provide the primary power, yet pull-back when needed, giving room, not yet released from the center spot in the stereo spectrum. Left and right treatments start now: Eno injects noise into the right channel (3.37) while keyboards (presumably Ferry’s) lather up on the left. Our lost narrator howls his existential refrain at 3.25 (Oh heartache, dream home heartache) and finds himself riding on a wave of instrumentation and increasing destabilization – this is music and emotion being blasted out into the cosmos, waves of sound delivered deep into the universe until eventually discovered by flame, dust, or some unsuspecting life form. The soundscape starts to entropy at 4.00-4.08, fading one minute after the initial explosion, signal lost at 4.17.
Deep in the night plying very strange cargo
Our soul ships pass by solo trips to the stars in the sky
Gliding so far that the eye cannot follow
Where do they go? We’ll never know – ‘Beauty Queen‘
Instrumental Coda – 2
The man in black is back again as human heartache shoots across the universe, hitting the Great wall before boomeranging home, before being sucked back into the recording console.
There is silence for little less than three seconds (4.17-4.20) as the sound makes its journey back from the great unknown and arrives at our ears, reconstructed. Two significant changes occur on the return: the vocal is gone, swallowed by prominent and exaggerated studio effects. And the effects themselves have morphed from flanging modulations into sweeping phasing treatments. The drums sound like they are being pulled through the eye of a tornado, while guitars, VCS3 synthesizer, Farisa organ, even saxophone, swoosh across the sound spectrum, producing the famous swept comb filter effect so loved by rock producers, musicians, and audiences alike. You hear it on Queen’s Killer Queen (1974), reel tape phasing on the vocal line “a laser beam” and also on the (by now) cliched prerequisite “guaranteed to blow your miiiiind“. Phasing is liberally used at the beginning of Bowie’s “Station to Station” (1976), as it is on the 70s recordings of Kraftwerk – the modulation and whooshing sounds applied to the synthesizers on Autobahn (1974) still hold up today. Indeed, the effect is so ubiquitous in rock music you can select your favorite example – there’s lots to choose from.
What is exciting about the phased return in Coda 2 is that the intensity is turned up to 11 and the sound carefully manipulated to reproduce the core psychedelic conditions of dechronicization, depersonalization, and dynamization (see Hicks, above). As noted, dechronicization messes with our perception of time, as is evident in the trick fade at 4.17-4.20. Dechronicization is also as key component of the modulated manipulation of the recording tape: phasing takes the recorded sound signal, processes it, and in doing so creates a series of peaks and troughs across the frequency spectrum. The position of the peaks and troughs of the waveform is modulated to vary over time, and this creates the ‘swooshing’ sweeping sound we know so well. The effect is loved by psychedelic bands and audiences for this very reason – instrumentation and sound is delayed, manipulated over time, transforming acoustic signals into something grander or more kaleidoscopic than their origin. Depersonalization is represented thematically (man + dolly) but also in the effect of the fade-in/fade-out: the dramatic cry of Oh heartache hurtles across time and place, and on its rebound is absorbed and resubmitted as part of the sound universe, not apart from it. And dynamization, as [Timothy] Leary noted, makes “familiar forms dissolve into moving, dancing structures” – take a listen then to Paul Thompson‘s drums in Coda 2: warped and phased they spill across the sound spectrum like heavy waves coming right at you.
Coda 1 uses mostly flanged effects, as seen in spectrum wave at top
Coda 2 uses mostly phased effects, seen at bottom
We loved psychedelia. We weren’t a psychedelic band, but we wanted to say, “Yeah, we like this,” as well.
When Ferry asked the band to create a psychedelic ending to ‘Dream Home’ they were all in agreement on who would provide their template and inspiration: sonic artist and experimentalist Jimi Hendrix. For Roxy, the legendary guitarist was ripe for homage: Bryan Ferry had already channeled Bob Dylan and John Lennon in his songs (‘Virginia Plain’/’Beauty Queen’) yet in the Melody Maker edition of October 14, 1972 (The “Roxy Music File“) it was Hendrix who Ferry named as his favourite musician. (Favourite songwriter was, a little less surprisingly, Cole Porter). In keeping with most guitarists, Phil Manzanera was a fan before he was out of his teens: “I remember watching Jimi Hendrix do ‘Hey Joe‘ on Top of the Pops… I ran to the telly and sort of wanted to jump in it, I thought what the… that’s amazing!” (Manzanera). Yet notably, it is Brian Eno who was the staunchest Hendrix supporter in the Roxy camp, repeatedly citing him as “the greatest guitar player of all time” (Spin), and the first “proper electronic musician” (Hartley). “He was the first guitar player to realize that the guitar was more than a piece of wood that hung around his neck, and he really understood that there was a relationship between the room acoustics and the amplifier he was using, the whole situation” (Tamn).
Roxy Music’s Hendrix adoration makes sense, for while known for his rock-God heroics and Classic Rawk hits – you’d think that Hendrix had only written ‘Hey Joe’ or ‘Purple Haze’ – when the guitarist was given a break from a punishing touring schedule and given artistic control, he took his time to create worlds of innovation, texture and sound. Take a listen to Electric Ladyland‘s rock symphonic ‘1983 (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)‘ or the gentle layered sheets of feedback in ‘Drifting‘. Or even his greatest moment, the live masterpiece ‘Machine Gun‘ with its penetrating lyric (I pick up my axe and fight like a farmer) and the sonic replication of bombs, napalm, jungle heat, and all-out blitzkrieg. And so in order to evoke the spirit of Hendrix, the production team saturated the close of ‘Dream Home’ in studio phasing and flanging effects, the definitive example and reference for this approach coming from Hendrix’s second album, Axis: Bold As Love (thank you to reader Steve for pointing this out!). Though not the first example of production phasing – that honor belongs to the hit single The Big Hurt by Toni Fisher, 1959 – the track ‘Bold as Love‘ is credited to producer Eddie Kramer as the first example of stereo modulation, which is important, for phasing and flanging techniques allow the soundscape to modulate and sweep across the sound spectrum, channel to channel. Listen at 2.48+ for the ‘Bold as Love’ coda – in typical fashion, Roxy Music dial up and channel the first authentic use of stereo phasing and then let rip in homage on the famous ‘Dream Home’ instrumental.
You know, when you play guitar, you can play, or you can transcend, and you can go as far – there’s no boundaries – how far you can go in your own body and how far your mind?
Neil Young, Inducting Jimi Hendrix into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, 1992.
The increased tension during the return of the instrumentation in Coda 2 is palpable: Phil Manzanera’s guitar in particular maintains its steady assault, clearly audible, stretched but including a demented series of lines that start at 4.52, with a brilliant drop at 4.59 that really gets the blood going. What is interesting about Manzanera’s solo is that the guitar actually breaks down, steadily reducing its multiple chord/note positions in favor of an increased a-tonal complexity, until all that is left is a two-three note motif that signs the song out for good (5.00-5.25). And throughout Coda 2 the drums are a masterpiece of playing – heavy and syncopated – Paul Thompson just never lets up, like he’s trying to outrun the maelstrom to which his thunderous drumming is being subjected.
And so in creating their psychedelic freak-out at the close of ‘In Every Dream Home a Heartache’ Roxy were seeking a number of outcomes. Firstly, executing on the band motto of “All styles served here”, they were keen to introduce psychedelic music to the mix and add to the stomp, ballad, proto-punk, and 50s doo-wop styles intended for the record. During the instrumental coda there was also an opportunity to pay homage to their musical heroes and also branch out and provide a shocking and menacing song the kind of pay-off that could translate into a thrilling listening experience. It was also a mark of humor – Ferry in full camp mode with his ‘blew my mind’ line – intended to undercut the creepiness of the narrator and deflect the reality of what happens when one loses the capacity for human relationships and love.
Yet more than anything, two items stand out most clearly in the song: the issue of spiritual value in the materialist age; and the importance of art as an act of transcendence, of a lifting above the concerns of the every day, especially for the artist. Ferry was brave to write a song about loving an inflatable doll and was inspired for providing a spiritual context to balance the strangeness of the subject: ‘Dream Home’ questions the role of Faith and God quite explicitly: Is there a heaven? the narrator asks. Yet he knows that every demented step takes him further from heaven, or at least his idea of heaven, which is important, for the story suggests that heaven is a concept, a ‘dream home’, a place invented by the mind, if you will. This is further implied by the mind-blowing instrumental: at the moment of his greatest indulgence, the narrator transcends his reality and is blown to bits: this could be suicide, drugs, sexual climax – or perhaps even a spiritual release or epiphany, for something wonderful does happen during the Coda – the voice is expelled (oh heartache), but returns, changed, absent, wrapped now into shape-shifting sound, as all good psychedelia demands.
Recorded: AIR Studios, London February 1973.
Jimmy Hendrix Explosion, Australian artist Martin Sharp; Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), David Hockney‘s $80M painting; flying object, Electric Ladyland – the First Museum of Fluorescent Art; 3D painting by Shaka; Zabriskie Point soundtrack album cover; Phil Manzanera, mid-70s; Doctor Tom mask, Stanley Kubrick, Eyes Wide Shut; roxysongs photo collage: Phil plays one of my favourite versions of ‘Dream Home’ solo Live, Manchester, 1979; screen shot of excellent phased/flanged recording studio presentation by Pro Audio Files; Stanley Kubrick drawing for Eyes Wide Shut Mask w Ayahuasca Raura painting by Pablo Amaringo.
Bryan Ferry wrote a song of transgression and then asked his band to provide an appropriate musical backdrop to complete it. In naming Hendrix as his favourite musician Ferry may have had the guitarist’s master work of spiritual transcendence in mind – ‘1983 (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)‘ – after all, it fitted the jigsaw for both musical expressionism and lyrical honesty, the only difference was its act of transgression was not a trip to the infinite, rebounding stars, but to the bottom of the Earthly ocean:
So my love Catherina and me
Decide to take our last walk
Through the noise to the sea
Not to die but to be re-born
Away from a life so battered and torn
In recognition of Hendrix’s achievement, a team of artists in Amsterdam opened up Electric Ladyland – the First Museum of Fluorescent Art. The museum houses “a large room-sized Fluorescent Environment that the visitor enters, becomes a part of the piece of Art, and then experiences Participatory Art.” Well, how psychedelic is that. Jimi’s iconic song and its psychedelic underwater terrain is reflected in the art pieces and installation photographs below.
See you for ‘Bogus Man’ – November, 2018
Happy Halloween, be safe out there kids!