Bitter Sweet

Album: Country Life (1974)
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Songfacts®:

  • Bryan Ferry reflects on his litany of failed love affairs on this theatrical romp from Roxy Music's fourth album, Country Life:

    Well this is such a sad affair
    I've opened up my heart
    Oh so many times
    But now it's closed


    Ferry elaborated on this verse in an interview with Melody Maker, July 12, 1975: "I lived with a girl for three years and that was quite a traumatic affair. But it didn't work out in the end and I decided that I'd be better off living alone."

    He continued: "I tend to squirm when people bring out exhibit A or B from the lyrics. I don't like adding to them. If I didn't think that line spoke for itself, I'd have written footnotes."
  • "Bitter Sweet" features a verse sung in German. The scantily clad models on the front cover of Country Life, Eveline Grunwald and Constanze Karoli, helped Ferry translate the lyrics. The Roxy Music singer-songwriter met the women in a bar in Portugal. In an interview with The Guardian on June 14, 1997, Ferry described Grunwald and Karoli as his "ideal fans" and claimed working with them was like "designing the perfect fan as well as the music."

    Continuing along the German theme, this song also features oompah passages similar to those found in traditional German folk music.
  • In 2017, Ferry made a cameo in the German neo-noir television series Babylon Berlin to perform "Bitter Sweet" at a Weimar cabaret. The Roxy Music vocalist contributed several other songs to the soundtrack, including decadent new versions of "Dance Away," "Bitters End," and "Chance Meeting." Ferry went on to compile these songs on 2018's Bitter-Sweet, an album inspired by his work on the critically acclaimed Netflix show.
  • Radiohead's Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, Suede's Bernard Butler, and Roxy Music's Andy Mackay recorded a cover of "Bitter Sweet" for the 1998 film Velvet Goldmine. Going under the name of The Venus in Furs, the British supergroup also contributed covers of "2HB" and "Ladytron" to the Todd Haynes-directed, Jonathan Rhys Meyers-starring movie, which tells the story of Brian Slade, a rock star based on Ferry, David Bowie, and T. Rex's Marc Bolan.
  • Shot by Eric Boman and depicting Grunwald and Karoli posing in translucent lingerie, the front cover of Country Life caused significant controversy in the US. As a result, Roxy Music was forced to issue the album inside of a green plastic sleeve. Despite this, Country Life peaked at #37 on the Billboard 200 in 1974, making it the band's highest-charting album at the time.

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