New York Telephone Conversation

From the formation of the Velvet  Underground in the mid-sixties until his death in 2013, Lou Reed ruled as the punk poet laureate of New York City. For more than one generation of rock fans, no one did more to create a popular image of the city. Throughout the decades, Reed explored New York City life from every angle, from the dingiest to the most elevated. Sometimes the view he presented was glamorous and inviting, sometimes it was gritty and muckraking. A lot of times, it was just a view of ordinary life, with its usual ordinary ups and downs. Very occasionally, it was satirical as well. This song is a little bit of a novelty, a funny snippet often overlooked on an album that’s front-loaded with classic of the glamorous stripe. But though it’s one of his most humorous songs, it’s also a genuine sigh of weariness, an observation of how exhausting and inane it feels to go through the motions of being social, and the loneliness of not being able to be social in any meaningful way. It doesn’t have to take place in New York, either, but it’s way cooler that it does.

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