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Music / New York (1989)

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"You can depend on the worst always happening/You need a busload of faith to get by"

New York is the fifteenth solo album by Lou Reed, released on January 10, 1989 through Sire Records. As a concept album intended to be listened to in one sitting, "like a book or a movie," it was his take on the poor state of the city at the time, featuring stripped-down rock instrumentation to focus on his introspective lyrics. It was backed by the songs "Romeo Had Juliette," "Dirty Blvd.," and "Busload of Faith."


Side One

  1. "Romeo Had Juliette" (3:09)
  2. "Halloween Parade" (3:33)
  3. "Dirty Blvd." (3:29)
  4. "Endless Cycle" (4:01)
  5. "There Is No Time" (3:45)
  6. "Last Great American Whale" (3:42)
  7. "Beginning Of A Great Adventure" (4:57)

Side Two

  1. "Busload Of Faith" (4:50)
  2. "Sick of You" (3:25)
  3. "Hold On" (3:24)
  4. "Good Evening Mr. Waldheim" (4:35)
  5. "Xmas in February" (2:55)
  6. "Strawman" (5:54)
  7. "Dime Store Mystery" (5:01)

"Busload Of Tropes":

  • 15 Minutes of Fame: Mentioned by name in "Hold On," doubling as a Mythology Gag given the Velvet Underground's history with Andy Warhol back in the 60's.
    "There's no Mafia lawyer to sit in your corner
    For your fifteen minutes of fame"
    • "Dime Store Mystery" is a tribute to Andy Warhol, the Trope Namer.
  • Abusive Parents: The subject of "Endless Cycle."
    "The man if he marries will batter his child
    And have endless excuses
    The woman, sadly, will do much the same
    Thinking that's it right and it's proper
    Better than their mommy and their daddy did
    Better than the childhood they suffered
    Truth is they're happier when they're in pain
    In fact, that's why they got married"
  • Accentuate the Negative: Poverty, AIDS, bigotry, violence, environmental destruction...
  • The Big Rotten Apple: The whole album. He even perverts the Statue of Liberty in "Dirty Blvd." and "Hold On," calling it "The Statue of Bigotry." The former song additionally features a parody of "The New Colossus", the poem engraved on the base of the Statue of Liberty, rewriting it to highlight the dissonance between its altruistic, pro-immigration tone and the reality of American nativism and xenophobia.
    "Give me your hungry, your tired, your poor, I'll piss on 'em
    That's what the Statue of Bigotry says
    Your poor huddled masses— let's club 'em to death
    and get it over with and just dump 'em on the boulevard"
  • Concept Album: Goes over the hardships of life in the titular city at the time.
  • Green Aesop: "Last Great American Whale" is about humans destroying the environment.
  • Epic Rocking: "Strawman" is borderline, at 5:54.
  • List Song: "Strawman" runs down a list of things people don't actually need.
  • Literary Allusion Title: "Romeo Had Juliette"
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: As seen above. Deliberately Monochrome, and just showing Lou Reed and his band standing around.
  • News Parody: "Sick Of You," which the book Between Thought And Expression: Selected Lyrics of Lou Reed described as a "fantasy newscast."
    "All the beaches were closed, the ocean was a red sea
    But there was no one there to part it in two
    There was no fresh salad, 'cause there's hypos in the cabbage
    Staten Island disappeared at noon
    And they say the Midwest is in great distress
    And NASA blew up the moon
    The ozone layer has no ozone anymore
    And you're gonna leave me for the guy next door?"
  • Ripped from the Headlines: "Hold On" references the Howard Beach incident, riots in Tompkins Square and medical waste washing up on beaches.
  • Shout-Out: "Beginning of a Great Adventure" quotes the "Sylvia how do you call your lover boy" part of Mickey and Sylvia's 1956 R&B hit "Love Is Strange." Doubles as an In-Joke, since Reed's wife at the time was named Sylvia.
    • "Last Great American Whale" mentions "my painter friend Donald", referring to John Mellencamp.note .
  • Siamese Twin Songs: The whole album can be considered to consist of nothing but this trope, given Lou Reed's statements that the album is best listened to in a single sitting.
  • Special Guest: Two of them.
    • Former Velvet Underground drummer Maureen Tucker plays on "Last Great American Whale" and "Dime Store Mystery."
    • Dion provides backing vocals on "Dirty Blvd."
  • Take That!: "Good Evening Mr. Waldheim" rips Nazi-turned-Austrian President Kurt Waldheim, Pope John Paul II and Jesse Jackson for antisemitism; it's worth remembering that Reed himself was Jewish.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: It's a Lou Reed album of Protest Songs, meaning the words are more important than sophisticated musicianship; Reed himself likened the album more to a poetry piece than a typical rock record.
  • Tragic AIDS Story: "Halloween Parade" is about how the disease had claimed so many of the regular participants in the Village's annual parade.
  • The Vietnam Vet: The subject of "Xmas in February."
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: "Beginning of a Great Adventure" is about a guy thinking about having a child, and among the names he considers are "Eggplant," "Dummy," "Star" and "The Glob."