1. This is an utterly powerful and haunting song, one of the best Reed has ever written in fact. The poor aspire to leave the ‘dirty boulevard’ which is a place of squalor, physical abuse and hopelessness. The song points out the disparity between rich and poor when it envisions a brightly lit Lincoln Center, where an opera is now being staged, and limousines with movie stars pull up.

    I’ve been tied up myself in traffic on 39th Street, and I’ve seen firsthand the young ones selling roses and bottles of water to make a buck, and the postitutes are out there doing their thing. Reed’s imagery is vivid and compelling.

    It’s a song about a yearning to escape from the hand that was dealt to those trapped in a social sphere most can never overcome.

    The last stanza is deeply moving, but the song is masterfully written. I know Reed performed this song at his celebrated pairing with Bowie in the late 90’s at a bithday concert.

  2. Introducing Lou Reed’s poetry and music is a particularly engaging move. Thanks for launching this!(Later this month, we’re going to see Julian Schnabel’s Lou Reed’s Berlin.) The torrent of anguish in “Dirty Boulevard” has been almost fatally struck by the volume of malignancy in world history. Other work by him adopts a confessional voice about personal failings. I wonder if Andy Warhol wasn’t concerned to nudge him along, by introducing the actress, Nico, to the Velvet Underground? Does his recent association with Laurie Anderson and Asian mysticism involve a catching up with that problem? Is there an occupational hazard in being an arts celebrity, inasmuch as it prompts reflection in terms of massive currents of intent, and oneself as a strictly interpersonal player? (In “Playing Music Is Not Like Athletics,” he says, “Talent carries its own weight.”)

  3. Great comments guys. You really have taken the post into interesting directions.

    Reed’s social commitment is rare in rock and builds strong bridges to the personal. Nico’s possible creative influence on Reed is a fascinating segue. She certainly affected Jim Morrison’s output during their turbulent on-off relationship.

    And yes, Dirty Boulevard is great rock!

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