Friday, November 1, 2013

I Wish I'd Written This

Guardian Angel

by Lou Reed

I have a guardian angel
keep him in my head
When I'm afraid and alone
I call him to my bed
I have a guardian angel
who keeps bad things from me
The only way to ruin it would be for me
not to trust me
The only way to ruin it would be for me
not to trust me
I have a guardian angel
who's often saved my life
Through malevolent storms and crystal drums
the angel on my right
Has lifted me up and set me down
always showing me what's right
And if my instinct proved me wrong
the angel set it right
And if my instinct proved me wrong
the angel set it right
Have a guardian angel
I keep him in my head
And when I'm having nightmares
he shows me dreams instead
I have a ring, I have a dress
I have an empty shell
By the books below tea cups
I've kept a kind of hell

By the books below tea cups
I've kept a kind of hell
Panic and anxiety
so often in my head
But I had a guardian angel
who took care of me instead
The champagne cork the nightlight owl
a raven and a duck
The seed of pining parents
and your despairing love
The seed of pining parents
and your despairing love
Love and luck both have charmed lives
can change all things about
I had a guardian angel
that's what this is all about
I have a guardian angel
I keep him in my head
When I'm alone and become afraid
he saved my life instead
When I'm alone and become afraid
he saved my life instead
Guardian angel
guardian angel
Guardian angel
guardian angel
Guardian angel



I wanted to pay homage to Lou Reed, who died a few days ago, but it was very difficult to find lyrics I could honestly say I wish I'd written. It was illuminating to discover that most of his songs did need the music. No matter how much we loved the songs when we heard them, he was not the poet that the likes of Cohen and Dylan are — or even Morrison, whom I think overrated as a poet. Without the music — and Reed's unique singing style — some of the lyrics are banal, others obtuse. But I like the psychological depth of this one, which is nevertheless quite accessible — and I'm really into angels.

You can hear him sing it on YouTube — and that will lead you to many others of his songs on YouTube. The lyrics by themselves are here.

Is there anyone who doesn't know his history? If so, one of the most interesting accounts, paying equal attention to his personal and musicals details, is here. Briefly: difficult early life, worked with John Cale, formed The Velvet Underground, was taken up by Andy Warhol, eventually went solo, alternated commercial successes with commercial disasters, married Laurie Anderson....

I think his most interesting interview was the one by Neil Gaiman.

Although he wasn't usually top of the pops, he had an enormous influence on rock'n'roll.

Just after he died, in the Australian talk show Q&A (which usually deals with political issues) an audience member asked the people on the panel to name their favourite Lou Reed song. They all could, most with not a moment's hesitation.

(Which one is closest to your heart? Although I don't wish I'd written it, the one I love best is his hit single: Walk on the Wild Side.)

14 comments:

  1. Rock and Roll

    "Despite all the amputations
    She could dance to a rock and roll station..."

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  2. So interesting, Rosemary. I didnt know much about him, but love Laurie Anderson. She is quirky. I love that in a person:) The structure of his poem is interesting, the way the lines repeat in patterns. Pretty cool. Thanks, kiddo.

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    1. Sherry, I guess that patterning is because it's really a song. :)

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  3. I liked Laurie Anderson first--"Big Science" and "Superman" and everything since. Then after meeting Lou Reed and she with a group of William and Mary students, I caught up on the Velvet Underground. I like that the two of them performed Poe's "The Raven" together.

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  4. i am glad you paid homage...he was a pioneer...of punk and i think some of his interview quotes are all the more poetic...in one he said he wanted to write the great american novel in an album....

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  5. Like many other nostalgic artists, ie,.musicians, poets, he also has made a significant impression to those of my era. Thanks Rosemary for this tribute

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  6. Thanks, Rosemary. I absolutely agree with your choice of Walk on the Wild Side--I'm not sure that it is in fact the best thing for a life well lived and can be very hard for others in one's life to deal with if carried to extremes==but it is a great song, and he definitely pushed the envelope in so many ways, and expressed the wild side for people in a way that allowed them to feel that they too were walking that way, without in fact, taking the risk. Thanks. This is Karin - Manicddaily

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    1. Karin, it was really interesting on that Q&A episode - the host noted that very thing. A man who had no experience of heroin loved Waiting for the Man; a very straight lady in every sense also loved Wild Side. Interesting phenomenon about Lou Reed songs! Perhaps you've hit on the reason. :)

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  7. Rosemary, thanks for the tribute to Lou Reed. Actually, I always found his singing barely a tetch above Dylan - but then, I'm a jazz snob, used to focus on vocals. Having said that, I think his song, "The Heroine," the waiting for "her," the being dressed in white, rocking the ship on a big trip, a sly nod to the drug that consumed so many great musicians before their time. Ironic, but it's my favorite, because no one thinks much of it. "Wild Side" is the easiest on the ear, and the backup vocals are mind-blowing! Again, my thanks. Amy

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    1. Well, Amy, some of us adore Dylan's toneless nasal twang! LOL.

      It's good that, despite his early wildness, Reed survived so long.

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