Sparks Fly On E Street: Lou Reed, Bruce Springsteen, “Street Hassle” (1978)

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Yeah, this was supposed to be about “Dry Lightning,” but Lou Reed has died and my heart’s just not in it tonight. Should any of us be surprised that Mr. Reed is gone? Probably not, but that doesn’t change the fact that it feels incredibly odd. And sad.

Lou Reed always had an air of invincibility to me. Yes, he abused his body (and documented it in some of his songs), but that’s not what I’m talking about. It was his ideas. Some were groundbreaking while others were just kind of screwed up (some were groundbreaking and screwed up). But all of them made us think a little differently. Many times I’d be listening to a new song of his and start out thinking “Geezuz, what the hell is this crap?!” A couple of listens later, and my appreciation for Reed had grown. This Lou Reed dichotomy phenomenon even extended to his relationship with Laurie Anderson. When I first learned of it, it seem impossible. That curmudgeon with her? But like a lot of other things Reed, it actually made perfect sense.

And then there’s Springsteen’s cameo spoken word performance in the middle of Lou Reed’s “Street Hassle.” Bruce was in the middle of that ugly legal dispute with Mike Appel and contributed to this powerful story of death on the street. Some folks might think that an intersection of these two artists would make no sense…and they would be wrong.

Thanks Lou.

Up next: Dry Lightning

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski
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