Love Lessons from Lou Reed
Love him or hate him, Lou Reed was a major force on music for several generations. After hearing about his death this weekend, I ended up saturating my Sunday in some of my favorite of his albums – and I realized while Reed taught the world a hell of a lot about music, he also had some pretty darn relatable things to say about love.
I Love You, Suzanne
When I think of all the things I’ve done
and I know that it’s only just begun
Oh, smiling faces, Jesus, you know I can’t forget ’em
But for now, I love you
right this minute, baby now
I love you
at least for now, I love you
I love how this song is upbeat and has a power feel to it, but also rings of desperation. “At least for now, I love you” – SO BEEN THERE. When we finally hook up with that person we’ve been wanting for ages – but yet know it very well may not last and so we just live in the moment, knowing ultimately we may end up feeling a whole lot worse for it.
Satellite of Love
I’ve been told that you’ve been bold
With Harry, Mark, and John
Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday through Thursday
With Harry, Mark, and John
Satellite’s gone up to the skies
Things like that drive me out of my mind
I watched it for a little while
I love to watch things on TV
Oh, the dangers of jealousy. This song is one of almost masochistic rage – a flip side of love if I ever knew one.
The metaphors in this tune are some sort of genius. The object it orbits defines a satellite. And isn’t that so much like how many of us crush on the wrong person — forever falling toward that attractor, yet paradoxically never gets any nearer? And then we see others – the Harry, Mark, John – get closer, and we get burned. Just like if a satellite got to close to the item it orbits.
Satellite’s gone way up to Mars
Soon it will be filled with parking cars
Going “way up to Mars” is adventurous. And maybe a wee bit pervy. But it’s about how we put our crush on this pedestal and soon they are unreachable, and our feelings become the sad victim of one-way effort, communication, maybe even one-way feelings.
Of course, driving way up to Mars can also be about how that sort of love drives us entirely out of our mind. Love does that to us, so does hate, but to drive you really truly out of your mind, maybe both.
Coney Island Baby
But remember the princess who lived on the hill
Who loved you even though she knew you was wrong
And right now she just might come shining through
glory of love, glory of love
Glory of love, just might come through
We’ve all had that love. The one that feels magical and cosmic and so right that you keep on fighting for it even when all seems stacked against you. It’s the dark magic of intimacy – “Different people have peculiar tastes” is another amazing lyric from this tune – because obviously if someone you are obsessing over isn’t obsessing over you, then clearly there’s something wrong with their taste, right? Judgment too, I’d argue.
Just a perfect day
You made me forget myself
I thought I was
Someone else, someone good
Oh, it’s such a perfect day
I’m glad I spent it with you
I’ve long subscribed to the (sad) nothing that love is for many just another form of addiction. And addiction, whether to heroin (like Lou) or a person is still addiction. Maybe this is about him obsessing over an ex or someone who rejected him – like many of his other songs. But love addiction can rule your world and you become very dependent on it. You know you are obsessed and you feel like crap about it, but then you also feel kind of guilty. Because you know it’s wrong and unhealthy and yet spending time with that person who is so bad for you is still your imaginary perfect day.
When under the influence of the “drug” – be a drug or a person – it feels great at the time, but you know it’s not going to last, and you know you are going to feel bad again afterward.
But you keep at it, because without that drug – or that person – life is just passionless and boring.
So many of Lou’s songs feel like they are about a crash landing after a really blissful high – and if that doesn’t describe a breakup, what does?
RIP, Lou Reed!