With the recent release of the demos from Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea – 21 years after the album came out – it seems like a perfect time to revisit the genius of PJ Harvey’s Good Fortune: a story from the city, but with an eye on the world. So what’s the song about?
A night on the town with prospective lovers. Bad fortune dissipates. Throw it off a tall building. Morning arrives. Still together. Hungover. Moving through the city. China Town. Little Italy. Talking about the esoteric: time travel, and THE MEANING.
The positivity is positively intense. Anything and everything feels attainable. Everything feels like it’s becoming complete. And Polly (PJ Harvey) feels like a bird of paradise.
So why not travel?
The idea arrives towards the end of the song. The fantasy of leaving the city together. To get on the road, ‘like some modern day gypsy landslide, like some modern day Bonnie and Clyde’.
The power of this fledgling relationship brings into being the need for continual movement and the need for the novel. And now that the city is conquered there’s no choice but to go on the run. Again and again.
An interpretation of Good Fortune
This song epitomises that blissful period at the start of a relationship when the world is waiting. When possibility remains seductive. It’s a song about the beauty of impulsion. It’s a reminder that unbelievable things can take place, both in the city and also while on the run.
And the original video shows us the magnificence of an enthusiastic Polly firing exuberantly through the streets. There’s no one else on earth that can make handbag-swinging look so rock and roll.
(Feature image credit: “File:PJ Harvey.jpg” by Dave Mitchell (Plastic Jesus) is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)
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