How Humphrey Bogart Inspired A Classic Roxy Music Song


There is a suave, effortless charm that permeates everything Bryan Ferry ever does. The singer is a monster with a soft voice and vanishing potential. Whether it’s wrapping his hands around a cover, developing his orchestral power abilities, or performing with his iconic glam rock band, Roxy Music, Ferry is the kind of performer one could. easily see making the transition to the big screen.

In 1972, there was no band as forward looking as Roxy Music. Led by Bryan Ferry with a virtuoso group that included mercurial electronics pioneer Brian Eno among other talented musicians, the group single-handedly set the blueprint for the pop music of the future. And, in Bryan Ferry, the band had a really enigmatic singer.

Bursting with dynamism with every movement, Ferry’s voice was allowed to roam the airwaves after being so well covered by his group of snipers. With Eno providing the electronic “mood boosters” in various forms, this allowed Phil Manzanera’s idiosyncratic guitar to slip away whenever needed – Roxy Music was a force to be reckoned with.

This changed somewhat when, in 1973, Eno left the group to pursue his own curvy experimental musical direction. But the band continued on and enjoyed a long and varied career based on spectacular songs and a glitzy character who could not be held captive. This show business swagger doubled down when they took inspiration from the Hollywood elite with their song “2HB”.

Since the song features the phrase “Here you are watching, kid”, there is no price to guess that the “HB” in question is not a graphite pencil but Casablanca star Humphrey Bogart, perhaps one of the most beautiful Hollywood idols of all time.

More than just an ode by Bryan Ferry dedicated to the late actor and his work on the iconic Casablanca, musicology is also influenced by the film. It winds around Morocco with a glam rock tipper. The song features an Andy Mackay saxophone solo, based on the melody of “As Time Goes By”, a tune performed by Dooley “play it back Sam” Wilson on that old piano in the corner.

The track has all the glitz, glam, and artful intent of Roxy Music’s best, with Brian Eno providing tape echo processing to transform the song into something that always sounds fresh and new. What sets Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music apart from other slinky art-rock imitators is that he not only had the musical chops to stack against the styles, but a diverse creative impetus behind all the showbiz and Bogart-style sincerity for all succeed.


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