“The Bed” – Lou Reed

OK, if you’re even nominally depressed or down emotionally, please do not listen to this or watch this clip.  “The Bed” is from Lou Reed’s legendary downer of an album from 1973, “Berlin.”  “Berlin” was recorded after Reed achieved commercial success with “Walk on the Walk Side”  and almost 40 years later, is still considered one of the most perverse commercial moves in a major artist’s career. “Berlin” was produced by Bob Ezrin, the producing genius behind Alice Cooper’s brilliant early albums/singles and later, Pink Floyd’s downer masterpiece from 1979 “The Wall.”  “Berlin” is a tale of the downward spiral relationship between two meth junkies (Jim and Caroline), one of whom (Caroline) also seems to be mentally ill.  If anything, “Berlin” makes “The Wall” sound upbeat in its despairing view of humanity and the depths people can sink in their own self-destruction.  “Berlin” was dismissed as a perverse joke by some critics at the time, a maudlin wallowing in misery by others.  There was talk over the years of mounting a stage production of “Berlin,”, but poor sales and negative reviews of the album halted these ideas.

However, despite the bad state Reed was in when he recorded this album, the songwriting and production of “Berlin” are quite brilliant, and almost 40 years later, the album really holds up.  Reed (over 25 years sober) finally achieved his dream of performing the album in its entirety with a 30-piece orchestra and choir in 2007, which was brilliantly captured by Oscar-nominated director Julian Schnabel in the 2008 film “Lou Reed’s Berlin,” well worth checking out if you’re a fan of Reed, Schnabel, or Ezrin.

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