I played a load of Postcard era Orange Juice recently and since then “Blue Boy” has been going round my head in a loop. The relentless jangling guitar riff, the oh so Edwyn first line,
“When he spoke she smiled in all the right places”
… and then the chorus starts.
“She wasn’t listening to the sweet words
He wasn’t listening to her lying tongue
He was listening to the words being sung
By the blue boy”
You also have possibly the only use of the word “gabardine” in a pop song.
But who was the “Blue Boy”?
According to Q Magazine journalist Simon Goddard, it’s about Pete Shelley from the Buzzcocks:
“Edwyn wrote this tribute to Buzzcocks’ singer Pete Shelley in 1977, performing a jerky prototype with his first “punk” (of sorts) band The Nu-Sonics.”
‘Blue Boy’ dates back to The Nu-Sonics, written in 1977 after Edwyn met Buzzcocks’ Pete Shelley backstage in Edinburgh on the White Riot tour. The original draft of the lyrics mentioned Shelley’s pink ‘Sta-Prest’ twousers, later changed to gabardine ‘because it scanned better’. Edwyn admits he took the ‘curse’ and ‘bless’ from Dylan Thomas’s poem ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’. ‘The lyrics are kind of crap,’ laughs Edwyn. ‘The record’s good but the words are kind of back-of-the-envelope type stuff.’
Edwin thought they could do better.
“I remember when I was 18 walking along the beach at Brora in Sutherland,” says Collins, “thinking it’s time to develop, that’s not good enough, it’s crap. I was 17 when I wrote ‘Blue Boy’. It’s crude, the chorus is crude, but I was thinking, ‘I’m 17, I need to get better than this…’”
Edwin Collins interviewed in June 2014 Uncut Magazine