Music throwback: Strawman – Lou Reed

March 2, 2018 would have been Lou Reed’s 76th birthday

I was playing a compilation album from Sire Records’ Just Say Yes series and rediscovered Strawman by Lou Reed. The disc has a live version of a song that first appeared on his well-received 1989 album New York.

I was pained to note that the lyrics are as topical today as when they were first penned:

Does anyone need yet another politician
caught with his pants down and money sticking in his hole

Here’s a a rare Q&A from 1989, Lou Reed: A New York State of Mind.

Does anyone need another racist preacher
spittin’ in the wind can only do you harm

I don’t have easy access to my vinyl so I’m not positive I own the album. But there is another song from New York I must have on another compilation.

“‘Last Great American Whale’ is a ballad about a mythical creature who came to the rescue of an Indian chief, who was jailed for killing a racist youth. The whale saves the chief and stops the racism… But the great animal was then killed by a NRA member, who had been aiming for the chief. This is taken as a symbol of Americans lack of concern for the environment.”

From the Wikipedia: “Lewis Allan Reed… was an American musician, singer, songwriter and record producer. He was the lead guitarist, singer and principal songwriter for the rock band the Velvet Underground, with a solo career that spanned five decades. The Velvet Underground achieved little commercial success during their existence, but are now recognized as one of the most influential bands in rock, underground, and alternative music.”

The Velvet Underground was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 and Lou Reed was, as a solo artist, in 2015.

Unfortunately, he didn’t live to see the latter honor. On “October 27, 2013, he died from liver disease at his home in East Hampton, New York, at the age of 71.” March 2, 2018 would have been his 76th birthday.

He was survived by his third wife, multimedia and performance artist Laurie Anderson, with whom “he had collaborated on a number of recordings.” They were married on April 12, 2008, though they had been romantically involved since the late 1990s.

Listen to:


Last Great American Whale

The New York album, in turn

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