“There’s a bit of magic in everything, and then some loss to even things out/Pass through the fire to the light.”  —Lou Reed, R.I.P. (1942-2013)

— — — –

Lou Reed: Playing In The Dirt (Vol. 1, 1967-1972)



Lou Reed: Playing In The Dirt (Vol. 2, 1973-1976)



Lou Reed: Playing In The Dirt (Vol. 3, 1977-1987)



Lou Reed: Playing In The Dirt (Vol. 4, 1989-2003)



Lou Reed: Playing In The Dirt (Vol. 5, 2003-2011)


——————————-(Click to Listen or Right-Click-Save-As to Download)—————–================__^__===================  ===  _ ===== == =   = =  __  _


It seems an unaccountable pleasure, which the spectators

of a well-written tragedy receive from sorrow, terror, anxiety,

and other passions, that are in themselves disagreeable and

uneasy. The more they are touched and affected, the more are

they delighted with the spectacle; and as soon as the uneasy

passions cease to operate, the piece is at an end. One scene of

full joy and contentment and security is the utmost, that any

composition of this kind can bear; and it is sure always to be

the concluding one. If, in the texture of the piece, there be

interwoven any scenes of satisfaction, they afford only faint

gleams of pleasure, which are thrown in by way of variety, and

in order to plunge the actors into deeper distress, by means of

that contrast and disappointment. The whole art of the poet is

employed, in rouzing and supporting the compassion and

indignation, the anxiety and resentment of his audience. They

are pleased in proportion as they are afflicted, and never are so

happy as when they employ tears, sobs, and cries to give vent

to their sorrow, and relieve their heart, swoln with the tenderest

sympathy and compassion.

                                                                          —DAVID HUME: Of Tragedy



When I was roughly 14 or 15 years old, either by accident or by providence an open and unmarked package was left on my mother’s welcome mat. Upon flipping back the cardboard tabs I discovered that it was filled with box sets for various recording artists: Merle Haggard: down every road (1962-1994); King Of The Road: The Genius Of Roy Miller; Eddy Arnold Then And Now: Last of The Love Song Singers; Chris LeDoux: American Cowboy; and one titled  Between Thought and Expression: The Lou Reed Anthology. At the time I was obsessed with Nirvana’s In Utero, which served as a brilliant, sonic astringent in the open head-wound a great deal of my generation felt after Cobain’s suicide. As I had read of The Velvet Underground’s influence on Nirvana’s craft (and as I was also fairly regularly watching re-runs of the Eddie Murphy era of Saturday Night Live and felt that the rough looking little man dressed in leather, denim, and gazing blankly up and beyond from behind dark sunglasses was the spitting image of Joe Piscopo) it was Lou Reed’s box set that I opened first. Also, considering the other sets were all country, a genre I had yet to appreciate, my selection was inevitable. I was forever after altered.

Covering Lou Reed’s solo recording career from the years of 1972 to 1988, this generous three CD set sent my teenage mind reeling. Whether a precision driven mutation of Spector or Doc Pomus pop; a doo-wop ramble from a loose and smeared lipstick sneer atop glam hand-claps; a swallow of feedback loops; a two-chord boogie around the bend of a soaring  guitar-solo; a wet cough from a dry bed (or vice versa); a caustic blast from blistered veins and popped pupils; a repetitive drone and jangle; a bitter lament; a sweet elegy; a shrug of regret or derision; an ache; fucked-up tales of creatures of habit and their escape attempts, either through just some Good-Time Charlie out for a little fun or through one of the most radical forms of self-discovery—pure reinvention; fucked-up tales where morals still matter but luck either good or bad reigns as the highest law of the land; manic-depressive ballads; the stomp and circumstance of disco and chemical jazz; a show-tune shuffle; Broadway hustle; or a swoop-swoop–rock-rock;  a sound from another room…a curse? No, laughter…they’re having a good time in there; a bottle-bloated crack-up now a dried up convalescent attempting to appreciate a simple, perfect day with his girl in a rooftop garden; a grind of electric current that converts all literature into mercury; a muttered dismissal of “I don’t give a shit, I’m just trying to make the rent” (Halle, 2000); or just a sole tender voice telling someone, “hey, I get it, I understand;”—whether any of these things and certainly a whole lot more, it all sounded like someone who had gained a little wisdom from playing in the dirt; it all sounded like someone doing what they wanted and wanting to do it as best they could; it all sounded like someone searching; whether anyone wanted to admit it or not, it all sounded like someone’s world: –it all sounded like poetry…and oh what a sound it was.


The following Christmas, at my request, I received a copy of The Best of The Velvet Underground: Words and Music of Lou Reed.

Whether bacteria or art—it was culture. Yes, it was art, music, sex, drugs, friendship, fiends, and, even if it was ugly at times, it was romantic. It was sorry without apology; it was sometimes idiots getting second-chances down dead ends…sometimes not; it was beauty with a wicked sense of humor—it was America, or what I knew of it (say, for example his mention in “Kill Your Sons” of a childhood stay at Creedmoor, a mental hospital within walking distance from my house). It was America, and all I wanted to know of it at the time: the 5 boroughs of New York City.

  All the albums I put out after this are going to be things I want to put out. No more bullshit, no more dyed hair, faggot junkie trip. I mimic me better than anyone else, so if everybody else is making money ripping me off, I figure maybe I better get in on it. Why not? I created Lou Reed. I have nothing even faintly in common with that guy but I can play him well—- really well.– Lou Reed.

Lou Reed Live album advert, 1975.

To address the epigraph that begins this piece, Reed’s work can undoubtedly be a thrilling spectacle, but it remains one with more depth than mere titillation. His songs are ones where “The whole art of the poet is employed.” Furthermore, It does not matter whether his subject is the depraved or lost suffering beneath the heel of The Statue of Bigotry, a kiss-off comic or cold, a fun rocker, a vague one of kindness and affection, or about the body and all it requires in this world: Lou Reed had an exceptional gift for creating an urgent sense of intimacy within his music. No matter what, you were always assured that you belong there listening to that song at that moment. For certain, It is this intimacy that grants any “uneasy passions” its power to affect the audience, the listener, you.


Coney Island Baby photo shoot by Mick Rock, 1975

January 1, 1970

Although, admittedly, it might have been another decade before I could truly appreciate the full emotional resonance of some of the songs, and I’m quite sure others have yet to reveal their full essence to me. Take for example, “Pale Blue Eyes,” a song which I always loved but did not get, not until it was too late or right on time; when I was living with it:

Pale Blue Eyes

Sometimes I feel so happy,

Sometimes I feel so sad.

Sometimes I feel so happy,

But mostly you just make me mad.

Baby, you just make me mad.

Linger on, your pale blue eyes.

Linger on, your pale blue eyes.

Thought of you as my mountain top,

Thought of you as my peak.

Thought of you as everything,

I’ve had but couldn’t keep.

I’ve had but couldn’t keep.

Linger on, your pale blue eyes.

Linger on, your pale blue eyes.

If I could make the world as pure and strange as what I see,

I’d put you in the mirror,

I put in front of me.

I put in front of me.

Linger on, your pale blue eyes.

Linger on, your pale blue eyes.

Skip a life completely.

Stuff it in a cup.

She said, “Money is like us in time,

It lies, but can’t stand up.”

Down for you is up.

Linger on, your pale blue eyes.

Linger on, your pale blue eyes.

It was good what we did yesterday.

And I’d do it once again.

The fact that you are married,

Only proves, you’re my best friend.

But it’s truly, truly a sin.

Linger on, your pale blue eyes.

Linger on, your pale blue eyes.



I have spent the intervening years attempting (when funds permitted and the mood struck) to collect all that Lou Reed has created, and his art has certainly served as a boon for my own more than once. No, it never lured me to say to myself “hey, let’s try to have fun with heroin,” and it did not persuade me to any perversion that was not true to my self: Lou never led me astray. If anything, my admiration for this artist has only aided me in discovering my self, and perhaps to understand human nature as a whole a little bit better. Personally, at that age I had just begun to experiment with the creative act of writing, and here by chance landing on my doorstep was a body of work that further proved you were permitted to do what you want; you could have your own point of view and express it too. You are allowed to pursue your muse with all sincerity and discipline wherever she might lead. You can tell it from the man who has to hike the streets, who has to take his dogs out on the sidewalks, occasionally dodging the nightmare of traffic. You were permitted to tell it from the man who knew love was awkward, and all the more glorious and real for being so. –No, to be more precise, you did not need permission at all; you only had to do it, but you damn sure should endeavor to do it well.

As you all are likely well aware of, Lou Reed died on a Sunday morning this past October 27, 2013 at the age of 71. By all accounts, he may have been more than a little acerbic (which is what you call an artist when he acts like a prick; on several occasions my cousin had delivered packages to his door and Reed would rarely acknowledge that there was another human present and always refuse to sign for the parcel), but he also seemed rather sincere, particularly where it perhaps mattered most to him—in his imagination, with his art.

New York, 1977


Concerning the creative act, in July of this year Reed wrote:

 […] I have never thought of music as a challenge —

you always figure, the audience is at least as smart as you are.

You do this because you like it, you think what you’re making

is beautiful. And if you think it’s beautiful, maybe they’ll think

it’s beautiful. You make stuff because it’s what you do and you

love it.

Prior, during his keynote address at the 2008 South by Southwest festival, before he went on to mock the belief that a songwriter needed any “qualifications for lyrics,” Reed touched upon on the same topic of writing and was quoted as saying:

I don’t know how it works or why it works or what it has to

do with anything. The thing I’ve got going for me is instinct.

I can feel it; I try not to think. Thinking won’t get me where I

want to go (Pareles).

In 1987, concerning his own great and still growing body of work, Lou Reed told Rolling Stone:

All through this, I’ve always thought that if you thought of all

of it as a book then you have the Great American Novel, every

record as a chapter, They’re all in chronological order. You take

the whole thing, stack it and listen to it in order, there’s my Great American Novel (Dolan, 2013).

So, It is in the spirit of presenting an abridged version of that “Great American Novel”—a teaser if you will—that I come to you today. This is also my attempt to repay that generous gift that landed on my doorstep back in 1995, so that others too may be taught what was learned from one man playing in the dirt. In her article for NPR, What Lou Reed Taught Me, I believe Ann Powers might have put it best when she described Reed’s core message as “[…] opening up your being—to sex or drugs or just to feeling—is inevitable, dangerous and the main purpose of life.”

Here is a multi-volume (and yet still all-too-brief to complete the picture) MixTape of this artist’s work through the years. I highly recommend you take a day and let his tell-tale heart roll through. More so, as I do not consider this a best of, or greatest hits package, nor are these necessarily my favorite songs but only an attempt to intimate the breadth of the man’s work, I truly implore you to pick up any and all of the works these tracks were collected from, as they do work their magic best when within their original context—or within their particular chapter of Reed’s “Great American Novel.”

Hopefully you too will be forever after altered.

—————- —-      —       –


Reed’s wife,  Laurie Anderson, wrote this moving tribute to her late husband, which appeared in the obituary column for the October 31st. edition of The East Hampton Star:


To our neighbors:

What a beautiful fall! Everything shimmering and golden and all that incredible soft light. Water surrounding us.

Lou and I have spent a lot of time here in the past few years, and even though we’re city people this is our spiritual home.

Last week I promised Lou to get him out of the hospital and come home to Springs. And we made it!

Lou was a tai chi master and spent his last days here being happy and dazzled by the beauty and power and softness of nature. He died on Sunday morning looking at the trees and doing the famous 21 form of tai chi with just his musician hands moving through the air.

Lou was a prince and a fighter and I know his songs of the pain and beauty in the world will fill many people with the incredible joy he felt for life. Long live the beauty that comes down and through and onto all of us.

— Laurie Anderson
his loving wife and eternal friend


—Enjoy yourself.

Lou Reed: Playing In The Dirt (Vol. 1, 1967-1972)

Lou Reed: Playing In The Dirt (Vol. 1, 1967-1972)


———————————————————————————————————  —-    –    –

Lou Reed: Playing In The Dirt (Vol. 2, 1973-1976)

Lou Reed: Playing In The Dirt (Vol. 2, 1973-1976)


———————————————————————————————– —       —     –       –

Lou Reed: Playing In The Dirt (Vol. 3, 1977-1987)

Lou Reed: Playing In The Dirt (Vol. 3, 1977-1987)


———————————————————————————— ——   –    – —      –

Lou Reed: Playing In The Dirt (Vol. 4, 1989-2003)

Lou Reed: Playing In The Dirt (Vol. 4, 1989-2003)


—————————————————————————  —-  –      —    –

Lou Reed: Playing In The Dirt (Vol. 5, 2003-2011)

Lou Reed: Playing In The Dirt (Vol. 5, 2003-2011)


——————————-(Click to Listen or Right-Click-Save-As to Download)—————–================__^__===================  ===  _ ===== == =   = =  __  _

————————————————————————— –    –   ——-     – —

All cover layouts & designs by Keri Kroboth-Calero

—————–                              ——–  —      –  –  —-


A Mouthful Of Pennies Presents

Lou Reed: Playing In The Dirt (Vol. 1, 1967-1972)

  • “We’re Coming Out.” (radio promo)
  • I’m Waiting For The Man
  • The Black Angel’s Death Song

[from The Velvet Underground & Nico by The Velvet Underground (1967)]

  • Here She Comes Now (Demo)

(White Light/White Heat Demo, featured on Peel Slowly & See [Box set])

  • Here She Comes Now
  • White Light/White Heat

[from White Light/White Heat by The Velvet Underground (1968)]

  • Hey Mr. Rain
  • Stephanie Says

[Studio outtakes by The Velvet Underground (1968), featured on Peel Slowly & See [Box Set])

  • Candy Says
  • Pale Blue Eyes
  • That’s The Story Of My Life

[from The Velvet Underground by The Velvet Underground (1969)]

  • Who Loves The Sun
  • I Found A Reason
  • Cool It Down
  • Oh! Sweet Nuthin’

[from Loaded by The Velvet Underground (1970)]

  • So In Love

[Lou Reed solo acoustic demo, Autumn 1970]

  • I Can’t Stand It
  • Lisa Says
  • Ocean

[from Lou Reed by Lou Reed (1972)]

  • Vicious
  • Andy’s Chest
  • Walk On The Wild Side
  • Satellite Of Love

[from Transformer by Lou Reed (1972)]


A Mouthful Of Pennies Presents

Lou Reed: Playing In The Dirt (Vol. 2, 1973-1976)

  • Berlin
  • Caroline Says I
  • How Do You Think It Feels
  • Oh Jim
  • Caroline Says II

[from Berlin by Lou Reed (1973)]

  • Intro / Sweet Jane/ Rock ‘N’ Roll

[from Rock N Roll Animal, recorded Live, Dec. 21, 1973, Howard Stein’s Academy of Music in New York]

  • Baby Face
  • Kill Your Sons
  • Sally Can’t Dance

[from Sally Can’t Dance by Lou Reed (1974)]

  • Metal Machine Music (edit)

[from Metal Machine Music by Lou Reed (1975)]

  • Downtown Dirt

[Coney Island Baby Outtake, recorded January 3 & 4, 1975 at Electric Lady Studios, NYC]

  • Nobody’s Business
  • Coney Island Baby

[from Coney Island Baby by Lou Reed (1975)]

  • A Sheltered Life
  • Follow The Leader
  • Vicious Circle
  • Temporary Thing

[from Rock And Roll Heart by Lou Reed (1976)]


A Mouthful Of Pennies Presents

Lou Reed: Playing In The Dirt (Vol. 3, 1977-1987)

  • Street Hassle

   A. Waltzing Matilda

   B. Street Hassle

   C. Slipaway

  • I Wanna Be Black

[from Street Hassle by Lou Reed (1978)]

  • Disco Mystic
  • City Lights
  • The Bells

[from The Bells by Lou Reed (1979)]

  • America (Star Spangled Banner)

[Growing Up In Public Outtake (1980)]

  • Teach The Gifted Children
  • The Power Of Positive Drinking

[from Growing Up In Public (1980)]


  • Underneath The Bottle
  • The Gun
  • Waves Of Fear

[from The Blue Mask by Lou Reed (1982)]

  • Little Sister

[from Get Crazy soundtrack, recorded Nov.-Dec. 1982]

  • Turn Out The Light
  • The Last Shot

[from Legendary Hearts by Lou Reed (1983)]

  • Turn To Me
  • What Becomes A Legend Most (snippet)
  • High In The City

[from New Sensations by Lou Reed (1984)]

  • Video Violence

[from Mistrial by Lou Reed (1986)]

  • Voices Of Freedom

[recorded live March 1987 at the London Palladium for The Secret Policeman’s Third Ball, featuring  featuring Jackson Browne, Peter Gabriel, Youssou N’Dour]


A Mouthful Of Pennies Presents

Lou Reed: Playing In The Dirt (Vol. 4, 1989-2003)

  • Beginning Of A Great Adventure
  • Halloween Parade
  • Sick Of You
  • Hold On

[from New York by Lou Reed (1989)]

  • Busload Of Faith (Acoustic Live Version)

[New York b-side (1989)]

  • Nobody But You
  • Hello It’s Me

[from Songs for Drella by Lou Reed & John Cale (1990)]

  • Power and Glory
  • Cremation
  • Harry’s Circumcision

[from Magic and Loss by Lou Reed (1992)]

  • Venus In Furs [live]

[from Live MCMXCIII by The Velvet Underground (1993)]

  • This Magic Moment

[from Till the Night Is Gone: Tribute to Doc Pomus (1995)]

  • Egg Cream
  • Sex with Your Parents (motherfucker)

[from Set the Twilight Reeling by Lou Reed (1996)]

  • Turning Time Around
  • Rouge
  • Rock Minuet

[from Ecstasy by Lou Reed (2000)]

  • Broadway Song
  • A Thousand Departed Friends (edit)
  • Call On Me (feat. Laurie Anderson) (snippet)
  • I Wanna Know (The Pit And The Pendulum) (feat. The Blind Boys of Alabama)

[from The Raven by Lou Reed (2003)]


A Mouthful Of Pennies Presents

Lou Reed: Playing In The Dirt (Vol. 5, 2003-2011)

  • Men Of Good Fortune [live]
  • All Tomorrow’s Parties [live]
  • Set The Twilight Reeling [live] (feat. Antony Hegarty)

[from Animal Serenade by Lou Reed, (recorded June 24, 2003, released 2004)]

  • Sad Song [live]

[from Berlin: Live at St. Ann’s Warehouse (recorded December 15–16, 2006, released 2008)]

  • Hudson River Wind (Blend the Ambiance)

[from Hudson River Wind Meditations (2007)]

  • See That My Grave Is Kept Clean [live]

[from The Harry Smith Project Live, recorded 1999, released 2006)]

  • Some Kind Of Nature

[from Plastic Beach by Gorillaz (2010)]

  • The Bronx

[from The Road From Memphis by Booker T. Jones (2011)]

  • Peggy Sue

[from Rave On Buddy Holly (2011)]

  • Little Dog
  • Iced Honey
  • Junior Dad

[from Lulu by Lou Reed & Metallica (2011)]


–Thank You

————Bobby Calero————


Dolan, J. (2013, October 27). Lou Reed, Velvet Underground Leader and Rock Pioneer, Dead at 71. Rolling Stone. Retrieved from http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/lou-reed-velvet-underground-leader-and-rock-pioneer-dead-at-71-20131027

Halle, H. (2000, March 30). Reed, between the lines. Time Out New York. Retrieved from http://www.timeout.com/newyork/music/reed-between-the-lines

Pareles, J. (2008, March 14). SXSW: Lou Reed, No Fan of MP3s. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/14/sxsw-lou-reed-no-fan-of-mp3s/?_r=1

Powers, A. (2013, October 27). What Lou Reed Taught Me. NPR. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2013/10/27/240841092/what-lou-reed-taught-me

Reed, L. (2013, July 2). Lou Reed><Kanye West [Review of the album Yeezus]. The TalkHouse. Retrieved from http://thetalkhouse.com/reviews/view/lou-reed


  1. Pingback: A MEAL FOR MEMORY | A Mouthful of Pennies

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