A favourite film sequence of mine occurs in the film "Diva", when the protagonist (the young postman) and the diva walk around Paris through the night and into the early hours of the morning - a silent, aimless stroll that takes in all the beauty and atmosphere of one of the world's truly great cities.
The sequence is set to an absolutely gorgeous, if derivative, piece of music -- go find "Sentimental Walk" by Vladimir Cosma and play it back-to-back with "Trois Gymnopaedies" by Erik Satie -- which draws out all the romance, all the elegance of a place and a moment in time.
But I bet, I just bet, that if the postman were to look back on this moment in his life from a distance of about twenty years, if he were to watch a grainy, jumpy silent black-and-white film of that night, he'd reach for this song to play as an accompaniment.
It's difficult to imagine how a song as wistful, as rose-tinted and gently bruised as this one, can exist among the clash and clamour of those chest-beating, wailing self-indulgent songs of loss. Many of which I love to bits, of course...
Just as Paul McCartney has an obsession with the old music-hall tradition, Bryan Ferry has a fixation with the era of Noel Coward, Irving Berlin and slightly louche smoothies in impeccable dinner jackets, men who wooed a girl rather than took her up to their penthouse apartment. Ferry's lounge-lizard image steps on stage intact here, before it slowly crumples beneath the perfect, crystalline memories of an old affair: "And still those little things remain/That bring me happiness or pain."
It's the casual brilliance and sharpness of the observations that takes this song beyond the mundane: "A cigarette that bears a lipstick's traces/An airline ticket to romantic places/A tinkling piano in the next apartment/Those stumbling words that told you what my heart meant/A fairgound's painted swings/These foolish things/Remind me of you."
There ain't nothing foolish about them things.