“Lou Reed and Why Rock Lyrics Don’t Work as Anthemic Quote Material”

Now more than ever, you would think, in this age of “fake news awards” and a president who’s actually funnier than the people who attempt to mock him, it would be more difficult to come to any clarity on “words to live by,” or the types of things that would flood Facebook “favorite quote” fields. You can imagine, then, my astonishment in glancing back through my copy of Either/Or by Soren Kierkegaard and coming across a more or less flawless detailing of our current Trump-related malady in America: “What wonder, then, that the world is regressing, that evil is gaining ground more and more, since boredom is on the increase and boredom is the root of all evil.” Kierkegaard buoys this rhetoric nicely with a good analogy involving children — that they’re well-behaved when they’re enjoying themselves, devolving then into the less than sanctimonious when they grow bored (just now in my head I got a mental flash of Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan panhandling his own “boredom” with amusing repetition in “Lewis,” a tactic which would seem to verify it as a significant humanistic snag).
But this will make for a nice transition — because the best rock lyrics will always be inherently specific (maybe I’m just sadistic, but I prefer “toe jam football” over “Imagine all the people / Sharing all the world”).
Lou Reed’s album New York is without a doubt one of the most overlooked documents in history — indeed, its lack of popularity is baffling to me. There’s even this Reed video doc with this dude touting the lyric “He has left his soul in someone’s rented car” (notice the specificity again and the articulation of the car’s “rented” status, which is also emphasized in the interview as part of the song’s driving force).
Now, of course, one route to go that has some potential would obviously just be posting a quote that’s really ridiculous like, for instance, some Beatles thing such as “Newspaper taxis appear on the shore / Waiting to take you away”. If you do this, obviously, you represent going to one extreme, making it clear that you’re not being AXIOMATIC, in a sense, you’re just attempting to liven people’s day with a little nonsense. You’re giving an “escape,” in other words.
Also, especially with this Kierkegaard quote, we see how, da**, this true stuff is just DEPRESSING. But still, some things, like the Rilke passage about us all in life being essentially and inherently alone, or whatever, can work for Facebook quotes on the strength of a truth that, though hard and rigid, still allows for the basic beauty of a sort of mythological individuality and liberty, generally, in life.
Earlier in the laundromat, I walked up to my dryer and, I kid you not, I looked at it the exact second it stopped. I saw the clothes do that final stopped-dryer tumble, even. This, then, what with my perhaps slightly egotistical disposition, made me think of the Lou Reed lyrics “Does anybody need another blank skyscraper / If you’re like me I’m sure a minor miracle will do”. Then I thought, miracles are really the spice of life. I thought I’d change my Facebook quote to (and this is what I thought of, jumbling the order of the lines up a little bit) “Does anybody need another billion dollar movie / If you’re like me I’m sure a minor miracle will do” (I happen to really despise movies nowadays and don’t live around any skyscrapers).
There’s this pejorative connotation of the word “random” that started, I think, in the 1990s (seeming every bit like something Cher from Clueless would say), which is to mean sort of “foreign,” inappropriate for the conversation matter which had been prevailing when the thing was said. This is sort of like how rock lyrics are when extrapolated and pushed forth as “poetry,” maybe, or as “adage” — it’s like beholding a being which is engaged in an activity whose nature is unknown, like a person running really swiftly through a mall, not carrying any merchandise or being chased by any cops. In this way, though so beloved, rock music is “random,” specific and frustrated, and therefore, arguably epochal, and perhaps even susceptible to a warranted extinction, or just historicizing, someday.

Leave a Reply