One thing my town lacks is a proper adult nightclub – I don’t mean the kind you where can go dance, or see a band play, or a raucous dive bar or a meat market; I mean the kind where you can get a classy cocktail and sit alone at the bar, nursing your drink and moping elegantly, while the The Blue Nile plays on the soundtrack of your life.

It goes without saying that it is perpetually raining outside this establishment, and that the bartender knows to keep your cigarette lit, your lowball glass full, and his mouth shut.

The Blue Nile made exquisitely-aching music via largely electronic means, and Hats is a classic. At a time when most of their peers were reveling in the cold artificiality of synthesized sounds, The Blue Nile strove to make their instrumentation sound as warm and organic as possible.

Weirdly, the only modern band that has come close to a similar mood for me has been Junior Boys, though they keep increasing their dance quotient with each record.

What’s your “Bogie sans Bergman” music?


Glyph is worse than some and better than others. He believes that life is just one damned thing after another, that only pop music can save us now, and that mercy is the mark of a great man (but he's just all right). Nothing he writes here should be taken as an indication that he knows anything about anything.


  1. Well, for moods like that, I tend to prefer torch songs. And, because I am of that age, well, Portishead is still a favorite.

    But, to go deep into most peoples uncharted territory, I present the fabulous Congo Norvell covering the late, lamented Gun Club’s “She’s Like Heroin to Me”
    (The male vocal on that track is Mark Eitzel) Everything they did is phenomenal, and I highly recommend them.

    • That is VERY unlike the Gun Club original.

      Portishead got played (and imitated) so much that it’s easy to forget just how damned GOOD that record was.

      OOOH, American Music Club has some choice selections too.


      Though maybe that’s more of a dive bar song.

  2. I don’t think places liked you described exist anymore. At least not with that kind of mood. The fancy cocktail bars in SF usually have a much more hipster vibe. There some places that try to go for a speakeasy kind of thing but they are still largely filled with young and hip professionals. I like the rain image though.

    For that kind place you need Jazz. You need Chet Baker at is most subdued. You need Dexter Gordon. The kind of music. It is all very Round Midnight. Though I did like the Blue Nile you posted

  3. Who’s my Bogart without Bergman? Bryan Ferry.

    Blue Nile is sweet, cried a bucket of hot tears to the soundtrack of that band over the years.

    • Bryan Ferry is an excellent companion to Blue Nile. I actually never heard his Dylan record, listening now.

      I used to play his Mamouna and Boys and Girls (and of course Roxy’s Avalon) quite a bit.

      Weirdly, these are all also good albums for NOT being alone…if you catch my drift.

      • UPDATE – as I suspected, Bob Dylan songs are greatly improved by not being sung by Bob Dylan.

        • This is universally true. Long past suspicion time. It’s been scientifically proven.

        • Richie Havens sings an infinitely more heart-breaking version of Just Like a Woman

          • Richie Havens really does a better version. It was his version of Just Like a Woman — and Hendrix’s take on All Along the Watchtower which drove me to the conclusion Dylan’s songs are usually better in someone else’s hands.

            Dylan’s songs are almost mystical in their ability to bring out the best in almost everyone who sings them. For one, we know the tune. It’s rather like the old jazz standards in this way: the “standards” were shopworn little tunes everyone knew too. Truth is, they weren’t all that great, played straight. But the standards gave jazz artists a framework, a melody and a set of chords to work with, something upon which to create something uniquely theirs.

            Dylan’s stuff doesn’t fit the category of “standards”. Dylan’s songs are something else entirely, superior to those little ditties by dint of better poetry and in most cases, better musically.

        • Some of them, anyway. I’ve mentioned how much I love his version of Mr. Tambourine Man, and I can’t picture anyone improving on Subterranean Homesick Blues.

      • Bryan Ferry’s unique. All classy men are — but they’re not, in a way. Good taste is acquired. It’s a lot of work making it look effortless. A lot harder than putting on makeup.

        Other men come to mind. Four of them, in fact. Nothing can touch these cats either. I repeat myself, it’s a lot of work making it look effortless.

    • Robyn Hitchcock does a decent “More Than This” cover:


      Robyn Hitchcock is one artist I have always tried to get into, with little success. I like The Soft Boys’ Underwater Moonlight, and I like a handful of solo Robyn songs (“Madonna of the Wasps” is GORGEOUS, and “Brenda’s Iron Sledge” rocks), but as a whole…meh.

      Which is weird, because he’s kind of like the missing link between Syd Barrett and Robert Pollard – sharp, melodic psychedelic/surrealist pop – so he should be right up my alley.

      • Wow! That is just turrible. Sorry, had to be said. Mic-ed all wrong, mixed wrong, Robyn’s not singing on key.

        There was always a hint of bizarre greatness to RH as you say — but I never quite Got It either.

  4. Devotchka, one of the bands I used in my walking post, has a bit of that feel, though without the electronic element.

  5. Something inexpressibly elegant about this bunch, too. Some folks might find World Music a bit precious but elegance goes rather beyond any one culture.

    Joe Zawinul was a great man. He would die of a rare cancer several months after this tour.

  6. Geez are you peeking at my hardrive for all my favorites. I lurve me some Blue Nile. A few of their songs are all time favorites. Hats is indeed a classic. I’d add A Walk Across the Rooftops, it has some great song as does High. You are very right that they manage to make synth sound organic and human. Part of that is the lead singers voice. I remember, at one of those teary times, driving around a rainy Seattle at night playing Blue Nile. Rain drops spattering and glistening from the light of the skyline.

    Here is a link to a good live version of Tinseltown in the Rain. It is as rockin as these guys every get.

    • I just went over to check, and I have Walk on vinyl, but not CD (so it’s not on my hard drive and I haven’t listened to it a long, long time.). Maybe I’ll throw that one on the turntable tomorrow night. Gots to go to bed now.

      Oh, and I am sure I have a music post coming up that will alienate 99% of y’all, so don’t get used to all the favorites 🙂

      • With this crowd, I’d drop that 99% down to 50%.

        Not sayin’ anything, just sayin’.

      • I have a music post coming up that will alienate 99% of y’all

        You’re an opera-lover?

        • Worse – it’ll be a bunch of boopin’ and beepin’ (“what the heck? These aren’t even SONGS! Where are the instruments? Where are the words?!”)

          • “I made an entire album of mixed of alarm clock sounds. I call it, ‘Annoying College Roommate Whose First Class Is Two Hours Before Yours and Who Is In Love With the Snooze Bar.'”

          • Did anybody else, when they were kids, used to record themselves screaming and/or making satanic-sounding voices on the very end of side A of an otherwise-blank 60-minute cassette, and hide the portable cassette player in your brothers’ or cousins’ bedrooms and hit “play” just before they went to bed, so that approximately 25 minutes after they had fallen asleep, they would be awoken in sheer bed-wetting terror?

            Just me then?


            It’ll be kind of like that.

  7. I was thinking I didn’t really have too many Bogey without Bergman songs (Edith Piaf, maybe)… and then 9mary’s cover of the Antony and the Johnsons song Hope There’s Someone came up in my random YouTube clicking tonight, and wow, okay, that can be mine.

    More generally, much of Antony and the Johnsons would serve in the role of Blue Nile, were I in such a situation.

  8. Isn’t this what hotel bars are for? At least at nicer hotels in quieter parts of town?

    If I may, these songs, and the mood described, seem like they’re indulging in a bit of wallowing. Which is a place and thing I realize very many people need at times. I tend not to be one of those people. It is rare I get into that sort of mood and if/when I do, I usually try to bring myself out of it… usually via working out or connecting with people I love. So I can’t really relate to the experience described here. I have an inner curmudgeon who comes out every now and then, but even that still has a social element to it: I want people to listen to my bitching.

    The only time I really wallowed was for the sake of doing so. I went out with some friends in DC to a bar/club that was too hip and the music too loud and the people too young (this is saying a lot as, I was 26 or 27 at the time) and I didn’t really want to go out in the first place so I sat at the bar, drank Scotch, and admired the exposed brick behind the bar. Of course, this was sort of fun, so it wasn’t even real wallowing. And, stupidly, it attracted some of the younger girls who just had to know what I was doing. Idiots.

    Also, what is a “Bogey without Bergman” song?

    • Never underestimate the power of a good sulk or wallow.

      • Oh, I don’t… it’s just not for me.

        Part of it is that I have a tendency to brood when I’m beginning to get angry. And when I start, it goes downhill fast. So it’s better I don’t even go down that road. I, personally, do better when I try to push through the down parts. But I know that’s not how every body works. I give my kids plenty of space to sulk because I recognize it’s value. Maybe I should give them these songs on an iPad when they’re in the ‘sulking corner’ (not a real thing… well, sort of a real thing… but it’s not called that).

    • ”Also, what is a “Bogey without Bergman” song?”

      My God Man, Pull It Together!

      (Watch Casablanca)

        • If you don’t watch Casablanca, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow – but soon, and for the rest of your life.

          • I really expected to be underwhelmed when I finally watched Casablanca, sometime in college – it has so thoroughly permeated the culture, with a million references and parodies, that there was no way it could live up to its rep, the way watching Citizen Kane is probably a bit underwhelming now, unless you are looking at it from a film history perspective.

            I was incredibly, happily wrong. Casablanca is every bit as good as its legend suggests.

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