Lou Reed, “Sad Song”

Great music from Berlin! One of the most underrated albums of all time. I worked as a music writer at my college paper. On the eve of the 1980’s, I wrote a piece listing the 10 best albums of the 1970’s. Berlin was number 1! That provoked quite a bit of outrage and shaking heads.

When the album came out in 1973, it was very controversial. Some like me thought it was from God himself, while a lot of other people thought it was a monstrosity. For instance, Berlin is now listed among Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 500 rock albums, but when RS reviewed it 30 years before, they called it a “disaster.”  Such was the polarization that Berlin caused – it’s either the greatest album ever made or the worst album ever made, take your pick.

It sold poorly in the US but for some reason did very well in the UK, and got lukewarm at best reviews on both sides of the pond. The poor sales and reviews upset Reed, and for many years, he would not perform any songs from Berlin live. The Rolling Stone Record Guide calls it “one of the most depressing albums ever made, but oddly beautiful in its own way.”

Berlin was a concept album about two heroin addicts in love in the city of Berlin. It was a tragic rock opera featuring such uplifting themes as drug abuse, domestic violence, adultery, prostitution, depression, suicide and other joyous things. It was produced by none other than Bob Ezrin, one of the greatest producers of all time. Jack Bruce, Aynsley Dunbar and Stevie Winwood all play on the album.

Lyrics:

Staring at my picture book
she looks like Mary, Queen of Scots
She seemed very regal to me
just goes to show how wrong you can be

I’m gonna stop wastin’ my time
Somebody else would have broken both of her arms

Sad song, sad song
Sad song, sad song

My castle, kids and home
I thought she was Mary, Queen of Scots
I tried so very hard
shows just how wrong you can be

I’m gonna stop wasting time
Somebody else would have broken both of her arms

Sad song, sad song
Sad song, sad song
Sad song, sad song
Sad song, sad song
Sad song, sad song
Sad song, sad song

Oh fuck yeah!

12 Comments

Filed under Music, Rock

12 responses to “Lou Reed, “Sad Song”

  1. criticallycanuck

    He performed the album live fairly recently in its entirety and released it. If you like the original, you’d love this just as much.

  2. I have “Berlin” as well. It’s sad andamazing both, but i must say that “Sad Song” is very sad indeed. I’m probably going to go play the album now because you reminded me i have it right here. Sad song. indeed.Trouble is it makes me burst into tears when i hear it, but too bad. I’m going to listen to it anyway .

  3. You are incredibly dedicated to your blog,Robert. I see that you were up very early yesterday morning posting your Lou Reed/Velvet Underground posts here on your blog. I mean, I listen to Lou and the VU a lot to this day, and I’ve done so for decades, but I’ve never been up at 5:45 in the morning blogging about them. Are you always awake that early in the morning to work on your blog?I think that suggests an impressive work ethic on your part. I, too,was awake that early yesterday morning myself, but I hadn’t even been asleep yet. I was in a lot of pain. I got hurt pulling a huge pitbull off my own dog that day, and Icouldn’t sleep; oh and I lost a friend I cared about, so I was all beat up and in mourning, too. Yes, it was a swell day. Anyway, yes, I was still up at that hour, but not to work on my blog like you evidentally were. I finally read myself to sleep, but I can’t tell you what time I finallydrifted off. it must have been really late, as I woke up at 3 p.m. That’s late even for me.I know you were up very early posting these, but thank you thank you thank you for doing so. I know I’m not alone in appreciating your efforts, and besides, chjecking in has taught me that Lou Reed has recorded a live version of “Berlin,’ which I am going to order, so that’s cool. Muah, good night.

    • Oh, by all means. I love your written assessment of music. I can tell you’re not new to writing about such things. You did so in college, you say? I wrote film reviewsfor the daily when I was but a wee lass at Notre Dame, and I’d get a bit sarcastic (naturally)if the movie were some drippy nonsense, which it often was. My biggest reward was when the paper’s editor would call me in the middle of the night and tell me they were dying laughing in the newsroom. Yeah,that was my pay. Payment enough, I’d have told you. I loved it. Most of the time I wasn’t even trying to be funny, t was handed to me on a plate by some craptacular movie! As for your assessments of music, I wish there were more of them to read on your blog. I also wish you’d write and record your readings of some for my radio show. I just happen to know you have the voice for it. I’ve heard you.My listeners love that sort of thing. I had one guy in my studio almost choked up over Dave Brubeck’s recent death when I dedicated a show to Brubeck and explained how his “Take Five” pushed jazz further into mainstream consciousness. I’m always explaining music-related things on my show so that people “get it,” and I know my listeners love that because they’ve told me they do.So if you’d ever like to write any and record your reading of them, please let me know. It’d be killer. Hell, it’s my show, I do what I want, such as playing an all-Velvet Underground show for Christmas. Why not? There is always the song “The Gift,” right? Which of course I did play. Check out the lyrics and imagine anyone objecting to hearing that for Christmas. You know what? Nobody did object. The station owner didn’t complain, the manager didn’t complain. No listeners comnplained at all. And me? Well, I loved it. I have plans to do a Who-only show next. I had to put it on hold last time. Long story. I will spare you.
      Love and kisses,
      Rachele.

  4. Robert, After I read the “Sad Song”lyrics you’d provided I had a nagging feeling thatsomething was off about them. Something isn’t, but you have one of the versions of “Sad Song” here. Did you know there are at least two versions of the lyrics? You’ve posted the ones I hear on vinyl. Then I recalled that usually when I hear it, it’s the version that appears in the Velvet Underground box set, of which I keep duplicates: One for my house in town, one for the mountains. I have to keep two sets. I got tired of lugging the first one back and forth between houses.

    • “Sad Song” is not a Velvets song.

      • I’ll copy it and send it to you in the mail. It’s song 14 of the full version of Loaded. it’s here in my hand so that I may make a copy for you., 3 minutes, 30 seconds
        : “Sad Song,”Reed, Morrison, Tucker, Yule.” You kbow those guys. Poor Sterling Morrison diuesd of cancer in the ’90s, and English suidents of his at UT were not permitted to ask him about his days with the Velvet Underground, ore else he would fail; them, he’d claimed. Hardass.

      • “You’re a Velvet. No, you’re a velvet. No, YOU are.” I can just hear it. I’ve heard similar. I grew up with a big brother, but usually those exchanges involved Indian burns, slamming arms into doors and that sort of fun.He was fond of the violent things.

  5. Oh, but Robert, he did do it with the Velvets. it’s right here next to me.I promise you I am not hallucinating.I haven’t hallucinated in four years.

  6. I have something I’m sending to you, Robert. No, it’s not a bomb or anything. It’s a present. I’m big on giving people things, what can I tell you? I’m just that way. It’s not finished yet, but it will be finished soon, okay? G’day and cheers from Rachele.

  7. The Kids is one of his best songs. Read that the kids crying in the background were tricked into crying. They were the kids of the producer or engineer, they told the kids that their mommy died LOL.

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