Top 10 Lou Reed Songs

Top 10 Lou Reed Songs

Seth Montpelier '18, Staff Writer


  1. “Pale Blue Eyes”: Lou showed the tender side of the Velvet Underground with a track he wrote for his muse during his time at SU. With jangling guitars and gentle lyrics about an old friend, the quiet production is the perfect example of the direction VU went for their third, eponymous LP.


  1. “Street Hassle”: Lou Reed’s gritty tale of a night in the gutter, featuring love, death, crime, and simple conversation. The ten-minute epic also contains a cameo from Springsteen, a garage band sound mixing with strings, and Spector-style back-up singers. It might be his best lyrics and shows Lou’s talking snarl  and tender warble.


  1. “Satellite of Love”: Reed’s true glam masterpiece is an ode of wonder and jealousy. David Bowie’s ear is crucial here. A simple baroque piano riff expands into one of the greatest outros ever recorded. A party breaks of horns and saxaphone. The icing on the cake is Bowie’s powerful back-up vocals.


  1. “Sunday Morning”: The first VU track sounds almost like a nursery rhyme with its subtle guitar, glockenspiel, and Reed’s almost feminine voice. His lyrics about the uneasy feeling after a long night make for one of the band’s strongest tracks.


  1. “Sweet Jane”: One of the Velvets’ rare FM hits was a clever ditty with Reed singing like he’s having a great time. The loosened up state helps maximize the lyrics about the ordinary lives and aspirations of Jane, Jack, and Jim.  A great tone for the pure pop the Loaded.


  1. “Heroin”: Lou’s first epic, about the feeling of indifference for the world, was the centerpiece for the VU’s debut. With Mo Tucker’s tribal drumming and John Cale’s electric viola drone create an atmosphere for lyrics describing the drug, but, more importantly, the sad loss of ambition it brings. Reed dreams but it doesn’t matter anymore. It shifts from eerie calms to exhausting chaos.


  1. “Candy Says”: A very slow doo-wop song tells the  melancholy story about Candy Darling, a Warhol Factory regular. The song describes the feeling of claustrophobia and discomfort the trans woman felt in her own body and mind. It ends with graceful “doo doo wah” harmonies that perfectly caps the calm feeling the sad song brings.


  1. “Stephanie Says”: An oddity in the “Sunday Morning” vein, viola and glockenspiel bring a sweet sound, although the lyrics are far from sweet. Stephanie has “given half her life to people she hates now.” Used in The Royal Tenenbaums, it works with Wes Anderson’s style perfectly: beautiful, with an underlying feeling of sadness and regret.


  1. “Men of Good Fortune”: Reed takes a go on the upper classes in this track from the very dark, cynical rock opera Berlin. The reflective verses compare the self-pity of the rich and quiet desperation of the poor and the punk bridge shows total apathy. It also showcases Lou’s snarl.


  1. “Vicious”: Another talking vocal from Lou opens his excellent sophomore album Transformer. Lou proves he’s one of the greatest rhythm guitarists ever, up there with Keith Richards.  The T. Rex-style glam accompanies Reed’s obscure lyrics.