“I’ve always been very wary about analysing songwriting. It’s always been a mystery to me where ideas come from.”

Biggest hit Jealous Guy (Roxy Music),
March 1981 – No 1; 11 weeks in chart.

Biggest Album Flesh And Blood (Roxy
Music), June 1980 – No 1; 60 weeks in chart

Writing a good melody is just luck. I don’t know where it
comes from. I’m always amazed. It’s just about putting the right notes
in the right order. Some of the melodies are better than others and
they last longer.

I don’t analyse what I write. I like to write things that
move people, that move me. My best songs were where you shed a tear in
the writing. It sounds silly, but where you’ve been moved doing it, you
know it works.

It’s a mystery where ideas come from. The lucky thing is that
I listened to loads of music at a very early age: jazz and blues,
everything really. It helps if you  have a lot of influences.

Do you need solitude or have a preferred time of day to write?

Well, yes, generally at night I find it easier when phones aren’t
ringing so much. There’s more time to be creative. It’s the only time
I’m on my own, really; during the day most of the time I’m working in
music I’m with a lot of people: the engineer, the producer, musicians.
That’s what I enjoy the most. The writing process is in two parts: one
is composing the melodies, which I quite enjoy doing. Normally I then
take the musical ideas to the studio and work them up and see where to
take it. I don’t normally work on lyrics until later on, and that I
must do on my own. I wish I knew a good lyric writer, actually: I
probably would have used one before now. I find it difficult to find
the right words to match the mood of the music. It takes a long time.
Sometimes things happen immediately; most of the time you reject ideas
constantly until you find the right one and then you think, ‘Ah right .
. . yeah.’ It’s a great feeling when you suddenly feel you’ve got the
right words for a piece of music and it all melds together.

Can you recall writing ‘I Thought’?

Ah, yeah. That was another co-write with Brian Eno. It’s one of the
nicest things. People don’t really notice that record. It started in St
Petersburg. I was over visiting Brian; I was staying there. We thought
we’d try and write a couple of things together. He had this one
sequence which I thought sounded great. I quite like the lyric of that.
I don’t really analyse what I write. I had the title; it came quite
fast. I like to write things that move people. I like to write things
that move myself. The best songs that I’ve written have been ones where
you shed a tear in the writing. It sounds silly, but, where you’ve been
actually very moved doing it, that’s when you know it really works and
means something. You don’t have to do that with all of the songs, but
occasionally you get that and think, ‘Ah, this is going to last.’

When has that happened to you?

The most recent time was on my last album, Olympia. I’ve a song called
‘Reason Or Rhyme’, but it’s happened before, I think it’s a good song.
Sometimes you get inspired not only by the melody but by the
performance of other people. Marcus Miller is a wonderful bass player
and great musician, and he really got inside that song. I found that
very inspiring when I was completing the lyrics. The piano playing I
did I liked. Sometimes I’ve kept away from playing on records . . .
there’s a lot of great keyboard players. My style is a bit unusual:
it’s very primitive but it works for me.




Bryan Ferry appears in a fantastic new book by acclaimed author
Daniel Rachel. ‘Isle Of Noises’ is a fascinating insight into the minds
and writing methods of 27 of the UK’s greatest musicians. Published by
Picador, this beautiful hardcover book is illustrated with archive
photos and features in-depth conversations with artists such as Ferry,
Ray Davies, Sting, Damon Albarn, Johnny Marr and Noel Gallagher.

Bryan Ferry programme

 Bryan Ferry Tour Programme 2013 with 12 pages devoted to Isle of Noises