Today being the day that Theresa May formally triggers Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, precipitating Britain’s exit from the organization, it feels we should mark the occasion with something suitably elegiac. And if you want elegiac, you have to go to the stately pomp of glam rock in the early 1970s – around the time, coincidentally, when Britain first joined what we used to call the European Economic Community.
So here’s Roxy Music with ‘A Song for Europe’, originally released on their third, and best, album Stranded in 1973. It’s got nothing to do with the EEC, of course, and it’s all the better for that. Because this is a much older Europe, a decaying, haunted, mythical Europe, and myth is always going to make for better art than reality.
The version here isn’t the original. However wonderful that was, Bryan Ferry was still in his twenties at the time. This live version, by the re-formed band, sees him a quarter-century on, with his voice weighed down by the years; he finally sounds world-weary enough to do justice to the role. ‘These cities may change, but still there remains my obsession.’
Oh, and the bass passage at 3:48 – just before Ferry starts up in Latin – is absolutely beautiful.