Story of the Song: The Dandy Warhols, Bohemian Like You

Robert Webb
Friday 22 July 2011 00:00
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A defining song of the last decade, "Bohemian Like You" is rooted in rock's paradigmatic "cars 'n' girls" format. Courtney Taylor-Taylor, the Dandy Warhols' guitarist and principal songwriter, was at his apartment window watching traffic pull up at the lights below. "

"An early Eighties BMW 320i with a primer-grey front-left quarter panel stops there with an amazing looking young woman behind the wheel," he says. "Her elbow was hangin' out the window at a jaunty angle and her roots were showing. She had a cool tattoo for that time and her face was exquisite." Taylor-Taylor was transfixed. He had worked as a mechanic on German automobiles and was ready to spring into action should the need arise. "I sat there willing steam to pour from the hood of her car. I almost gave myself a hernia I was willing so hard.

As the lights changed and she pulled away, Taylor-Taylor reached for his guitar and began spontaneously strumming the chords to a new song, "Bohemian Like You", inspired by his fleeting vision of loveliness. With no idea who she was, and knowing nothing else about her, he began to fantasise about what a relationship would be like with the car girl, who by now had evaporated in the evening rush. His composition took the shape of a one-sided conversation. "My silly little brain ran amok with the dream of love and vintage motor malfunctions," he says. "It was only natural to weave it into a song on the spot. I was overwhelmed, ya know?"

"Bohemian Like You" was recorded at a warehouse in downtown Portland, Oregon, one of a clutch of new numbers for the album Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia. The playing on the track was inspired by old Kiss records. "I was really turned on by how badly they copped Stones riffs," Taylor-Taylor says. "The production and really everything about ["Bohemian Like You"] is just so tidy." An obvious single and now the keystone of a new Best Of compilation, it failed to make the Top 40 until it was re-issued in 2001, following its use in a mobile phone advert. And the car girl? "Sadly I never saw her again, although I asked around a lot with my German-car buddies," says Taylor-Taylor. "One dude told me she was a pastry chef. Needless to say I ate a lot of pastries that week."

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