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“Showcasing the Coney Island Baby Liner Notes”

Hopefully you all can read this and get a good message out of it. About a decade or so ago RCA reissued Lou Reed’s sixth solo studio album Coney Island Baby. Somehow, eventually, I got around to the Pitchfork review of it, which was glowing, and chanced upon the CD at the local store. Getting through maybe a somewhat tepid opener “Crazy Feeling,” I found “Charley’s Girl” and “She’s My Best Friend” to pump with some of the truest classic rock spirit and grit Reed had ever put to wax (or to plastic, in this case, as to which my antiquated artifact “liner notes” corresponds).

Ahead of even getting into what my favorite song is on the album, since I’m not 100% decided, I somehow got to thinking today about what people, in or out of relationships, choose to share with each other, and what will remain forever buried. Along these lines, naturally, Reed’s song “Nobody’s Business” popped into my head, a spiny little six-eight stomp about the glory of caustic aloofness. It’s a testament to keeping things hidden, shrouded and esoteric your whole life, and of course a nod that maybe people who do this sometimes have something better to share all along, anyway.

And it is straight-ahead “rock.” This is the most important phenomenon cloaking this song and Coney Island Baby at large. You’ll note the lawsuit explicated in Reed’s rhetoric here. You’ll note his use of the term “returns” and the phrase “a few more” (actual for anyone who doesn’t know Metal Machine Music is basically 40 minutes straight of atonal and unapproachable guitar feedback noise, known within the profession as a “return”).

Recently there was a discussion on Awkward Black Girl‘s Facebook feed, which I I believe as the only white guy participated in, wherein I defended an artist’s deliberate attempt to cater to certain genre by reminding, or notifying, everybody that The Roots’ Phrenology was a pointed attempt by the band to cover every black urban American style of music in said people’s history. Coney Island Baby is, undoubtedly, not borne out of “artistic purity,” that is, as you see in the notes — his record company made him write a rock album and he did that, under the gun and under stylistic coercion, and I think given this, the fact that it’s probably his second best solo album of his career behind Transformer is all the more amazing.

 

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