Thursday, 7 May 2015

The Black Angel’s Death Song

I've recommenced reading Transformer: The Complete Lou Reed Story after a brief hiatus… I’m just heading into the Velvet Underground era so right now I’m cherry picking some favourite VU songs to set the mood (I’m planning on listening to the 4 albums proper at home later). I remain astonished as ever by The Black Angel’s Death Song off the first album. I seem to remember an article some years ago, in Q magazine I think, where the author singled out certain duck eggs found on classic albums, one of which was The Black Angel’s Death Song (as well as the incredible We Will Fall from The Stooges LP). The song is of course one of the most extraordinary moments in the VU catalogue. I was just reading thru the lyrics over at and was enjoying the interpretations listeners were offering, from the vague (it’s about meaning of life) to the mundane (it’s about drugs). I’m less interested in what the song is about and more enthused about the song as a piece of Dadaist sound poetry – try saying aloud a few lines from the song
"Shining brightly red-rimmed and red-lined with the time
Infused with the choice of the mind on ice skates scraping chunks
From the bells"
and one can get a sense of what Arthur Rimbaud called the “systematic derangement of the senses” Morrissey selected the song as one his Desert Island Discs for BBC in 2009, and said: “Listening to Lou Reed as a part of The Velvet Underground, we are really listening to the W.H Auden of the modern world…not existing in print poetry but in recorded noise

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