Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Velvet Underground and Yoga

Take the blue mask down from my face and look me in the eye.
Lou Reed

That silence thing, ever so important to the inner peace crowd, doesn't come easy. I find concentrating on much of anything (particularly reading and writing) difficult without music playing. That's due to what, if I were in grade school nowadays, would be diagnosed as ADD. The music is controlled noise that blocks out uncontrolled noise—both external and internal. Certainly, it's a symptom of our modern world (written with the caveat that I really don't think any other world is without its problems, either. Interesting how so many in the yoga crowd talk so much about the here and now, yet romanticize every there and then they can think of. I mean, Stephen Cope, early on in Yoga and the Quest for the True Self—a book that’s mostly great, by the way, much as it irritates me in places—talks about breaking up with his boyfriend, then later idealizes such famously gay-friendly milieus as traditional Hindu villages and pre-modern Europe.

What was I talking about? My inability to concentrate? Right. And I’ve even got music playing now—Lou Reed’s Blue Mask album—which reminds me...a couple of posts ago, I mentioned my top ten list of Lou Reed lines, as kind of a throwaway joke, though I really do have such a list. The thing is, I’ve gotten nothing but derision when telling friends about it. Mention it here however, and what happens? People, with, apparently, some of the same personal problems as I, come out of the woodwork and say they wanna see it. So:

Top Ten (partially annotated) Lou Reed Lines:

#1 How do you think it feels, and when do you think it stops? The Berlin album's so fucked up, you’ve gotta have something seriously wrong with you to actually enjoy it. I love the Berlin album.
#2 You made me forget myself. I thought I was someone else, someone good. Most people think “Perfect Day” is a lovely song about a lovely day in the park with a loved one. I wouldn’t want to disillusion them.
#3 I’m set free, to find a new illusion. Oh, Lou, how can you manage to describe such a positive sentiment, while being so utterly nihilistic at the same time?
#4 Won’t you recognize us? We’re everything you hate. Love that pain body.
# 5 The fact that you are married only means you’re my best friend, but it’s truly truly a sin. I have no idea what this one’s about.
#6 Taste the whip, in love not given lightly. Corporal punishment should only be between consenting adults.
#7 Between thought and expression lies a lifetime.
#8 Some kinds of love are mistaken for vision.
#9 There’s a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out. People tend to see Magic and Loss as Lou’s darkest album, as it deals with cancer and death (and, yeah, it has that lighthearted song about the guy cutting himself up with a razor blade). And yet, this song is probably the most positive thing he’s ever written, dealing with walking through the "fire" of pain and trauma and finding when the past makes you laugh and you can savor the magic that lets you survive your own war, you find that that fire is passion, and there’s a door up ahead, not a wall.
#10 Put a fork in their ass and turn ‘em over, they’re done.



Interesting post. I love how honest and funny you are. I keep trying to meditate but can never clear my mind. I try and try and now next time I try I will probably think of this post!

Brett said...

I think i'm too self centered to be centered. love the blog, i did a set of post last June on songs that were important to to me and why, that got lots of good comments.

Anonymous said...

With you on the music cutting out distractions. Enjoyed the explanation of controlled noise.

And as a historian I'm also with you on those who critique the present while imagining a perfect past. Never was such a thing. But the yogis I know aren't really wired to think historically. Heck, a lot of other people aren't either.

Thanks for the Lou Reed quotes. I don't own any of his albums except the banana one, because there used to be a time when it was easy to hear his music online, at a friend's place, or whatever. Need to keep my eyes and ears peeled.

Anonymous said...

2,3 and 4...the story of my life. I never got how anyone could think of "Perfect Day" as being an innocent, cheerful song. It's like when people play "Band of gold" at weddings when the song is actually about divorce. What exactly are they not hearing?

Anonymous said...

Great list! Number 3 and number 5 have always been some of my favorite Lou Reed lyrics. Personally I've always been partial to the opening lines from heroin:
I dont know just where Im going
But I'm gonna try for the kingdom, if I can
cause it makes me feel like I'm a man

Lana Gramlich said...

Although those are some good lines, I have to say that the overplaying of "Walk on the Wild Side" has seriously soured me to Lou Reed.

generic Brand said...

"Walk on the Wild Side" is overplayed, but how can "plucked her eyebrows on the way, shaved her legs and then he was a she" not be in the top ten list?

Not only is the line hilarious, it shows the drastic measures people take in order to instigate change in their lives. Also the line is hilarious.

G. B. Miller said...

Interesting thought there.

Personally, I'm the other way around. Most of the time, when I need to concentrate in things like reading or doing reports, I really need peace and quiet. Music becomes an annoying distraction.

On the flip side, when I'm doing dull things like data entering, music really does help set a good rhythm for me, which in ensures a good smooth pacing.

Gypsy at Heart said...

The fact that you are married means that you're my best friend but it is truly truly a sin - because in my head you are not married at all and you are more than that.

Yes, music is often like a key for me. I turn it and open a particular door. The thing is that I'm never utterly convinced whether it is me choosing the music or if it is the music that is choosing me.

That sentence probably makes no sense to you. I just threw it in there for discombobulating purposes. I think.

Anonymous said...

I always assumed that "Perfect Day" was an allusion to "A perfect day for bananafish." That sort of punctured any illusions I had about it being a happy song.

I read that Michael Stipe once stopped a concert to yell at a couple who were making out during the song Fire. Good.