Kill Your Sons

Austin is under the cloud of a dark and evil “shit mist”.  Gray, black, and brown are the only colors outside.  Everything is damp.  So to hopefully cheer everyone up, I thought I’d post some Lou Reed.  I always loved this performance, especially Lou’s guitar solo.  The song Kill Your Sons is about the time when Lou’s parents forced him to receive mental treatment, and in particular shock treatment.  Yet despite the seemingly depressing subject matter, Lou’s ability to take a matter head on without pity or sentimentalism always seems to lift my spirits.  Maybe it’s just me…

This period of his career, even though Kill Your Sons is originally off Sally Can’t Dance (Itself an underrated album in my book.), with Robert Quine is particularly worth checking out.  It consists of the albums The Blue Mask, Legendary Hearts, and Live in Italy.  All three of those albums are worth having if you are a fan of Lou Reed.  They are musically lean and mean, and feature some of his best lyrics.

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Lou Reed Lyrics Day 6: The Last Shot

Today I am remembering why I rarely ever drink.  I only wished that I had remembered yesterday.  I have a crushing hangover as the result of an excellent Ramsay Midwood set.  I’m sort of cheating all of you today that have been kind enough to read my Lou Reed lyrics posts throughout the week, but at least I’m admitting it.  I don’t have the brain power for any kind of intellectual deconstruction of lyrics.  I promise to make it up to y’all tomorrow with something better.  In the meantime here is a Lou Reed song that seems fitting for my condition:

The Last Shot

The last shot should have killed me, pour another drink
Let’s drink drink to the last shot
And the blood on the dishes in the sink
Blood inside the coffee cup, blood on the table top

When you quit, you quit, but you always wish
You knew it was your last shot

I shot blood at the fly on the wall
My heart almost stopped, hardly there at all
I broke the mirror with my fall -with my fall – fall – fall
Fall – fall – fall

Gimme a double, give yourself one too
Gimme a short beer, one for you too
And a toast to everything that doesn’t move – that doesn’t move

But when you quit, you quit, but you always wish
You knew it was your last shot

Whiskey, bourbon, vodka and scotch
I don’t care what it is you’ve got
I just want to know that it’s my last shot – my last shot

I remember when I quit pretty good
See, this here’s where I chipped my tooth
I shot a vein in my neck and I coughed up a quaalude
On my last shot – my last shot

Here’s a toast to all that’s good
And here’s a toast to hate
And here’s a toast to toasting and I’m not boasting
When I say I’m getting straight, when I say I’m getting straight

But when you quit, you quit, but you always wish
You knew it was your last shot

When you quit, you quit, but you always wish
You knew it was your last shot

This is from his Legendary Hearts album.  It is one of three incredible albums in which the great Robert Quine was on guitar.  These albums include The Blue Mask, the already mentioned Legendary Hearts, and Live in Italy.  If you are a fan of Lou’s work these should all be in your collection.  Lou was at the top of his game on these albums, and he had a band that could match him.  Quite honestly, and I know this could get me crucified in some circles, I enjoy these albums as much as any of the Velvets stuff.  I think it’s the quality of his writing during this period, and again the fact that he had such an incredible band.  Even the two studio albums are recorded very simply, with few overdubs.  Just the sound a great playing with someone that could write like hell.

This is one of the less literary and less serious songs on these albums, but i think one can at least appreciate that Lou was willing to take himself to task in such undignified fashion.  There is no sugar coating going on here.  When Lou took on others you tended to believe him, because he never spared himself.

Lou Reed Lyrics Day 5: Doing the Things That We Want To

Today I’ll be taking a look at Lou Reed’s Doing the Things that We Want To.  This song is from one of my favorite albums of his, New Sensations.  On this album he wrote some of his tightest pop songs.  However, he still was able to, within the form of pop music, write lyrics that expanded that form.

Doing the Things That We Want To

The other night we went to see Sam’s play
Doin’ the things that we want to
It was very physical, it held you to the stage
Doin’ the things that he wants to

Doin’ the things that he wants to

The guy’s a cowboy from some rodeo
Doin’ the things that he wants to
The girl had once loved him, but now she want to go
Doin’ the things that she wants to

Doin’ the things that she wants to

The man was bullish, the woman was a tease
Doin’ the things that they want to
They fought with their words, their bodies and their deeds
Doin’ the things that they want to
When they finished fighting, they exited the stage
Doin’ the things that they want to
I was firmly struck by the way they had behaved
Doin’ the things that they want to

Doin’ the things that they want to
Hey

It reminds me of the movies Marty made about New York
(Doin’ the things that he wants to)
Those frank and brutal movies that are so brilliant
(Doin’ the things that he wants to)
“True Love” meet “The Raging Bull”
(Doin’ the things that he wants to)
They’re very inspirational, I love the things they do
(Doin’ the things that he wants to)

Doin’ the things that I want to

There’s not much you hear on the radio today
(Doin’ the things that we want to)
But you could still see a movie or a play
(Doin’ the things that we want to)
Here’s to Travis Bickle and here’s Johnny Boy
(Doin’ the things that we want to)
Growing up in the mean streets of New York
(Doin’ the things that we want to)
I wrote this song ’cause I’d like to shake your hand
(Doin’ the things that we want to)
In a way you guys are the best friends I ever had
(Doin’ the things that we want to)

Doin’ the things that we want to

That we want to
A true love

This song is just Lou paying tribute to like minded souls.  He is showing his cards here.  He is paying tribute to movies and plays that help give his life sustenance and meaning.  He feels a sense of kinship with these artists and feels inspired by them.  I think the lyrics, at least in their intent, are pretty simple.  The only other thing is that he includes in contradiction to this is that he laments the state of radio.  He is not getting that same artistic sustenance from there.

Lou Reed, who could also write the most primal kind of Rock music, is on this track, letting his literary pretenses be known.  He was always someone that wanted to elevate rock and pop music and bring a measure of literature with it.  He studied under the poet Delmore Schwartz, which he pays tribute to on the brilliant My House, from The Blue Mask album.  Lou Reed was always someone that had combined a love for literature with a love for early doo wop and rock n roll.  He never let the form of rock music confine him.

Some of his critics would accuse him of being pretentious.  I always appreciated artists that could tap into both worlds.  He could be highly intellectual and incredibly primal, often in the same song.  Man is both a creature of intelligence and instinct.  Somehow I think he was being more truthful by not ignoring either side.  He was one of the few rock writers that could write about the breadth of the human experience; the way we debased ourselves with primal urges, and occasionally transcended those urges at times through art, reason, and intellect.