Lou Reed

Lou, Lou, Lou....

My House
Magic and Loss

Lou Reed
One of the founding members of the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed has come to embody the cool artistic soul of New York City. From his association with Andy Warhol to his work with Laurie Anderson, Lou has always moved along the cutting edge of art, mellowing all pretentions with a certain boyish charm and a seemingly endless reservoir of primitive cool. His personality often comes across as a blend of contradictions: laconic yet emotional, nervously diffident yet arrogant and brash, avant-garde yet quintessentially rock and roll -- who else but Lou Reed can count Vaclav Havel as a friend, and yet write a song called "Sex With Your Parents?"
Lou makes reference to Joyce on two songs: "My House" from The Blue Mask, and "Magic and Loss" from the 1992 album of the same name.

"My House" from The Blue Mask

This song is from the album The Blue Mask, one of Lou Reed's bona fide masterpieces. Sparse and unflinching, the album takes on such harrowing themes as self-abuse, mental decay, powerlessness, and heroin addiction; and yet still manages to find some tranquil moments of beauty amidst the chaos. "My House" is the first track, and is written as a heartfelt hommage to the poet Delmore Schwartz, a man whom Lou considered something of a mentor. The Joyce reference in in a comparison to Stephen and Bloom.
Lou Reed himslef had this to say about the song: "Delmore Schwartz was my teacher and friend. He was the smartest, funniest, saddest person I'd ever met. He had a large scar on his foregead he said he got dueling with Nietzsche. I was Dedalus to his Bloom. On a good day Delmore was buried next to his mother, something he would have hated almost as much as he hated his brother for having a vasectomy. Unless he was lying. Or writing out loud."


"My House"

The image of the poet's in the breeze
Canadian geese are flying above the trees
A mist is hanging gently on the lake
My house is very beautiful at night

My friend and teacher occupies a spare room
He's dead -- at peace at last the Wandering Jew
Other friends has put stones on his grave
He was the first great man that I had ever met

Sylvia and I got out our Ouija Board
To dial a spirit -- across the room it soared
We were happy and amazes at what we saw
Blazing stood the proud and regal name Delmore

Delmore, I missed all your funny ways
I missed your jokes and the brilliant things you said
My Dedalus to your Bloom
Was such a perfect wit

And to find you in my house
Makes things perfect

I really got a lucky life
My writhing, my motorcycle and my wife
And to top it all off a spirit of pure poetry
Is living in this stone and wood house with me

The image of the poet's in the breeze
Canadian geese are flying above the trees
A mist is hanging gently on the lake
Our house is very beautiful at night

Our house is very beautiful at night
Our house is very beautiful at night
Our house is very beautiful at night

"Magic and Loss" from Magic and Loss

This is the title track to Reed's 1992 album, Magic and Loss. One of Reed's more bittersweet works, Magic & Loss deals almost entirely with the loss of two of his friends, both of whom died from cancer. It is an emotionally difficult album to listen to, and certainly depressing; but in the end Lou manages to pull through, and the final decisions to carry on are some of the most cathartic moments ever pressed into a CD. The song is the final track on the album, and gathers together all the themes.


"Magic and Loss: The Summation"

When you pass through the fire
You pass through humble
You pass through a maze of self doubt
When you pass through humble
The lights can blind you
Some people never figure that out
You pass through arrogance you pass through hurt
You pass through an ever present past
And it's best not to wait for luck to save you
Pass through the fire to the light

As you pass through the fire
Your right hand waving
There are things you have to throw out
That caustic dread inside your head
Will never help you out
You have to be very strong
'Cause you'll start from zero
Over and over again
And as the smoke clears
There's an all consuming fire
Lying straight ahead

They say no one person can do it all
But you want to in your head
But you can't be Shakespeare
And you can't be Joyce
So what is left instead
You're stuck with yourself
And a rage that can hurt you
You have to start at the beginning again
And just this moment
This wonderful fire started up again

When you pass through humble
When you pass through sickly
When you pass through
I'm better than you all
When you pass through
Anger and self deprecation
And have the strength to acknowledge it all
When the past makes you laugh
And you can savor the magic
That let you survive your own war
You find that that fire is passion
And there's a door up ahead not a wall

As you pass through fire as you pass through fire
Trying to remember its name
When you pass through fire licking at your lips
You cannot remain the same
And if the building' burning
Move towards that door
But don't put the flames out
There's a bit of magic in everything
And then some loss to even things out

Links/CDs/Sound Samples

To find out more about Lou Reed, I recommend visiting the Lou Reed Page.

Here is the Lou Reed card over at the Ultimate Band List.

The Blue Mask is put out by RCA, and the serial number is: ND 84780. Magic and Loss is distributed by Sire/Warner Bros., and the serial number is: 9 26662-2. I would like to thank "Moran1" and "OnnO Kosters" for their help with the this entry.

You can purchase Lou Reed CDs, browse other discs, or listen to sound samples at Amazon.com below:

Magic And Loss
Lou Reed / Audio CD / Released 1992

The Blue Mask
Lou Reed / Audio CD / Released 1999

--A. Ruch
15 December 2000
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