R.I.P Lou Reed

Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

Lou_Reed_(5900407225)Lou Reed Rock N’ Roll Poet, Singer and Musician died this week at the age of 71. To my mind he was a far greater artist than the world gave him credit for being. What made him special besides his guitar virtuosity; the distinctive sound of his music; his unique voice; was that his lyrics reflected his raw emotional reaction to the life he saw around him. We see many of the Rock N’ Roll Idols of our youth trade their revolutionary sentiments for a knighthood and celebrity lifestyle. Yet Rock N’ Roll in its inception began as outlaw music in the 50’s. The main cause of R&R’s horrifying the mainstream in America was that it was White musicians copying the blues styles of what were then called “Race Records” because they were performed by great Black artists. The initial horror at Elvis wasn’t just the movement of his hips, but the fact that this quintessentially southern White boy was singing Black music. The music industry soon tamed Elvis as it tamed those to come with some exceptions. Lou Reed was never tamed and was never really listed in the top tier of Rock Legends by a public that found his lyrics too raw and too filled with what was the seamy side of American life. What follows are the lyrics to one of Lou Reed’s angriest and greatest songs as pertinent to America today as it was when he wrote it in 1989. Afterwards you can hear him sing it. To me one of the two great American poets of the last 100 years died this week and people think he was just another Rock N’ Roll singer.

Dirty Blvd. by Lou Reed

Pedro lives out of the Wilshire Hotel
He looks out a window without glass
The walls are made of cardboard, newspapers on his feet
His father beats him cause he’s too tired to beg

He’s got 9 brothers and sisters
They’re brought up on their knees
It’s hard to run when a coat hanger beats you on the thighs
Pedro dreams of being older and killing the old man
But that’s a slim chance he’s going to the boulevard

He’s going to end up, on the dirty boulevard
He’s going out, to the dirty boulevard
He’s going down, to the dirty boulevard

This room cost 2,000 dollars a month
You can believe it man it’s true
Somewhere a landlord’s laughing till he wets his pants
No one here dreams of being a doctor or a lawyer or anything
They dream of dealing on the dirty boulevard

Give me your hungry, your tired your poor I’ll piss on ’em
That’s what the Statue of Bigotry says
Your poor huddled masses, let’s club ’em to death
And get it over with and just dump ’em on the boulevard

Get to end up, on the dirty boulevard
Going out, to the dirty boulevard
He’s going down, on the dirty boulevard
Going out

Outside it’s a bright night
There’s an opera at Lincoln Center
Movie stars arrive by limousine
The klieg lights shoot up over the skyline of Manhattan
But the lights are out on the Mean Streets

A small kid stands by the Lincoln Tunnel
He’s selling plastic roses for a buck
The traffic’s backed up to 39th street
The TV whores are calling the cops out for a suck

And back at the Wilshire, Pedro sits there dreaming
He’s found a book on magic in a garbage can
He looks at the pictures and stares at the cracked ceiling
“At the count of 3” he says, “I hope I can disappear”

And fly fly away, from this dirty boulevard
I want to fly, from dirty boulevard
I want to fly, from dirty boulevard
I want to fly-fly-fly-fly, from dirty boulevard

I want to fly away
I want to fly
Fly, fly away
I want to fly
Fly-fly away (Fly a-)
Fly-fly-fly (-way, ooohhh…)
Fly-fly away (I want to fly-fly away)
Fly away (I want to fly, wow-woh, no, fly away)

Notes on Dirty Blvd.

Dirty Blvd is the 3rd of 14 tracks on Lou Reed’s 15th solo album, New York, released in 1989 to broad critical acclaim. In New York, Reed builds upon on his longtime theme of documenting New York City’s underbelly and its most stigmatized and downtrodden residents. It is regarded as one of his most conceptual albums, and in the liner notes Reed himself instructs listeners to take in the whole album in one sitting, “as though it were a book or a movie.” Apologies to Lou for breaking it down song-by-song.

Dirty Blvd describes the life of Pedro, a boy living and hustling in seedy areas of Manhattan. Pedro’s wish to magically disappear is his only respite from an abusive father, abysmal living conditions, and a bleak future that Reed portrays as near-inevitable. Reed’s deadpan delivery implies that he’s seen many unfortunate youth like Pedro end up “dealing on the dirty boulevard.”

More broadly, Dirty Blvd is a lament for the poor and vulnerable in a New York that, in the late 1980s, was beginning its obsession with “cleaning up” its most notorious districts of crime and vice. Longtime NYC mayor Ed Koch was leaving office and future mayor Rudy Giuliani was beginning to rear his ugly head. The NYPD was growing in power, and police-inflicted violence against the homeless was becoming commonplace:
“Your poor huddled masses, let’s club ‘em to death
And get it over with and just dump ’em on the boulevard.”

This comes from the website Rock Genius: http://rock.rapgenius.com/Lou-reed-dirty-blvd-lyrics

Twenty-four years after Lou Reed wrote this song the Billionaire who bought the New York City Mayoralty will soon be leaving office having accomplished all that Lou Reed Predicted. I will miss this great poet of the underbelly of our society.

Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

161 thoughts on “R.I.P Lou Reed”

  1. WoW! I am amazed that the posting at 2:06 hasn’t been purged. I don’t get it, “F*ck” gets your posting unpublished, a personal attack gets your posting unpublished or scrubbed but a vile racist attack on a group is up for 3+ days? There is an inconsistency (seemingly) in the rules that needs to be explained (because I just may be slow) or corrected.

  2. RTC:

    I’ll second that emotion.

    He doesnt even rhyme well. If you are going to hate, at least do it with some panache.

    1. Biblical Limericks: Genesis 2: 18 – 23

      The first man, Adam, lived all alone
      with no one he could count as his own.
      The animals could mate
      in their natural state,
      but for the first man there was none.

      So Yahweh became the first surgeon
      to make for the man one of his own.
      With a wound in his side
      Adam said with great pride,
      “This one, at last, is flesh for my bone.”

      Ohhhh get over it. Limericks are supposed to be rude.
      Besides. That’s nothing compared to R. Eleazar said about Adam in the garden before Eve:

      “R. Eleazar further stated: What is meant by the Scriptural text, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh? This teaches that Adam had intercourse with every beast and animal but found no satisfaction until he cohabited with Eve.”

      (From the Babylonian Talmud -Yebamoth 63a)

  3. Gene,

    It’s apparent that nothing good comes of it…..

    Mike S.,

    A big hand is not exactly what I had in mind…. Sister Dana would have dealt him a different hand…..

  4. Let’s give Louis a big hand. It’s not everyone who in a few short comments can prove that they have nothing whatsoever to give to the world but their feces.

  5. I’ve been wondering what happens to the foetus when the mother consumes meth during pregnancy.

  6. Louis,

    I think you’ve succeeded in the desires of your first posting…..

  7. Louis:

    You’ve confused this blog with one of the skinhead sites. Commenting here is limited to individuals who are able to read and write intelligibly and who have developed a modicum of emotional maturity. Your comments fail on both scores. Take your ignorant twaddle elsewhere. Thank you.


      MLK: “I HAD A DREAM…………………..”

      JFK: “ASK NOT……………………………….”

      WJC: “SUCK IT………………………………..”

      LBJ: “F__K IT…………………………………..”

      LAS: “PULL IT……………………………………”


      “naqisatan ‘aqlan wa dinan” (deficient in intelligence and religion)

      “If a woman offered one of her breasts to be cooked and the other to be roasted, she still will fall short of fulfilling her obligations to her husband. And besides that if she disobeys her husband even for a twinkling of an eye, she would be thrown in the lowest part of Hell, except she repents and turns back.”

      (Tuffaha, Ahmad Zaky, Al-Mar’ah wal- Islam, Dar al-Kitab al-Lubnani, Beirut, first edition, 1985, p. 176. It is also quoted in Al-Musanaf by Abu Bakr Ahmad Ibn ‘Abd Allah Ibn Mousa Al-Kanadi who lived 557H., vol. 1 part 2, p. 255).

      “If blood, suppuration, and pus, were to pour from the husband’s nose and the wife licked it with her tongue, she would still never be able to fulfil his rights over her.”

      (Suyuti, commenting on Q. 4:34).

  8. JUST STOP !!
    Lou Reed: Rock And Roll Heart, An American Masters Special (1998)

    For more than 40-years, Reed has been at the forefront of American avant-garde music, beginning with creation of the Velvet Underground in 1965, a band with artistic and political visions far beyond the popular music of the time. Gritty and realistic, the brutal honesty in Reed’s lyrics and sound made him a cultural icon of the disenfranchised throughout the ’60s and ’70s. With songs like “Heroin” and “All Tomorrow’s Parties,” he tackled harsh urban realities. His “Walk on the Wild Side” surprisingly made it to the top of the charts and has become a cultural classic about a taboo, hidden lifestyle. Reed worked with other icons of his day — Andy Warhol, David Bowie, Laurie Anderson. From punk rock to grunge, he has had an unparalleled influence on the American music scene. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the late ’90s and given the prestigious Hero Award by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, he continues his life-long experimentation as both a writer and performer. Originally broadcast: April 29, 1998. One hour.

    The entry below is a flashback to his career as of 1998.
    Lou Reed Biography (1998)

    PBSAmericanMasters Playlist: Rest in Peace, Lou Reed

    Our PBSAmericanMasters Spotify Playlist features 200 of Lou Reed recordings as a solo artist and with The Velvet Underground. Sign up for a free Spotify Account to listen to the playlist, Rest in Peace Lou Reed.

    1. Bruce,

      I watched that American Masters special on Lou Reed the night before I wrote this blog. It really explained him well and provided the context for understanding the value of his contributions. Good catch.

  9. Juliet,

    Same goes here. OS has my permission to share personal contact information with you as you might desire.

    1. “I hoped so too.”


      I can’t talk for what has occurred at other sites in the past, but here should anyone try to share your personal information it will be dealt with severely. Cyber Stalking has become the subject of legal interdictions of late for good reason. There was an incident that occured with me a few years back where someone had threatened me and my family. That person was dealt with to my satisfaction, which is all I need to say.

      I’ve noticed that you have now made a few comments on other threads on topic and incisively. I would hope too that you would stay with us as well, since you look to be a valuable contributor.

  10. Thanks, folks. I’m pretty open about my life, but I get to choose what I share. I hope people with the resources to do so will be professional and not cyberstalk.

  11. Juliet,
    The others have already stated it, but your commentary is welcomed and valued.

  12. Juliet,
    To echo what Mike Spindell says above, if you become personally fearful or uncomfortable for any reason, please let me know. I don’t know if you have ways to get in direct touch with any of the other GBs, but you do have my personal email and contact information in case you need it.

    Your input and insights are razor sharp. Look forward to your future contributions.

    1. Juliet,

      Should you want it, OS has my personal E Mail and is free to share it.

  13. Ditto what OS and Elaine stated Juliet….

    Mike A., your gentility never ceases to amaze me….

    1. Juliet,

      You have provided mucdh to this blog with your contributions thus far and it would be great if you stayed around to give us more of your insight. Any personal threats will be dealt with and have been before. This blog has been around for awhile and I have used my real name since I first started here. There was one threat to me a few years ago and that person is no longer here and the proper authorities were notified.

  14. I didn’t know Lou Reed.
    I don’t know anybody who knew Lou Reed.
    I don’t know anybody who knew someone who knew Lou Reed.
    I don’t know if Lou Reed was a jackass or a saint, and I don’t care.
    I do know that when I first heard the Velvet Underground, I immediately went out and bought the banana album, loved everything on it and fell in love with Nico.

    Great artists are truth-tellers, regardless of whether they live truthfully. RIP, Lou. And thank you, Mike S. I still have the banana album, peel and all.

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