MCMLXXXIX

I liked to read when I was a young kid.

In the early 2000s, the Internet, a frontier, the first blog I wrote was on MySpace. A girl I’d met in school said it was a brilliant site. It was a real long time ago.

These days, all these years later, I was looking at the post-https://jimadamsauthordotcom.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/no-rules/ -when I got an idea. Jim suggested that fans teach specific insights into the songs they enjoyed.

For the eleventh of October, Jim suggested a few prompts, such as the word Hold, which reminded me of Hold On, on the Lou Reed album “New York,” a good album. The idea of the prompt is to identify a song with a specific word in the title, or the lyrics.

The late Lou Reed was a singer and guitarist whose album “The Velvet Underground & Nico” made a name for himself. Over twenty years later, the song Hold On, on the record New York, was more of Reed’s art-rock, ostensibly intellectually-minded rock music, if you consult a definition of art-rock. Art rock features elements of a classical style, as in, with Hold On, the stand-up bass instrumentation by Rob Wasserman, who played the bass parts throughout the album.

Last month, the label Rhino put out an interesting new edition of Reed’s New York. What was an hour of songs in 1989 that provided insight that only someone like Lou Reed could have, two decades earlier Reed had enjoyed the opportunity to be managed by pop artist Andy Warhol, in 1966, ’67, and ’68. Reed was an enigma of the music scene in NYC.

1989

Now Rhino has presented three entire records to expand upon the original album. They’ve presented the same songs as on the 1989 album, now also in live recordings of the songs, and also alternate versions characteristically called rough mixes. The new edition further includes a DVD edition of the concert film for the New York record.

The song Hold On speaks, it’s clear, to life in New York City. The lyrics seem to recall news stories about the city, as in, for example, the first verse of the song recalling the twentieth of December 1986. That’s when a racially charged beating by the police, of two African-Americans, in Howard Beach, contributed to tensions throughout the city.

I think Reed was guardedly optimistic that the problem of racism in NYC would change, as black people continued to be less compromised by race and social class.

I also think Reed could have been thinking of the impact Warhol made on the art world, with lyrics for Hold On like, “Something’s happening here.” I think beyond singing about the flavour of life in the city, and it’s a powerful song, there’s a theme how Warhol’s art had reverberated mightily, so the idea that something’s “happening,” a word tied to Reed’s shows with the Velvet Underground, and the dynamic of the art-rock he wrote while managed by Warhol must speak to that, I take it. A “happening” was the style of Velvet Underground shows under Warhol’s direction, including projections of Warhol’s films, strange light, and the loud noise of the band.

Photo by Dmitri Popov from StockSnap

There is evident power in Reed’s voice, in the song. The Tompkins Square Park revolt happened on August 6–7, 1988, the year before, in Tompkins Square Park, situated in the East Village and Alphabet City neighbourhoods of Manhattan. Gatherings of drug pushers, vagrants and also youngsters had assumed control.

The Big Apple

I think, without art, people don’t have the same legacy they have had, ever since cavemen drew pictures. I also think the creative components of social media draw in many artistic people. Look, here are the lyrics to Hold On.

You’re welcome to “like,” follow, or comment. Thanks to Jim Adams for the prompt “Hold.”

Hold On

There’s blacks with knives and whites with clubs
Fighting in Howard Beach
There’s no such thing as human rights
When you walk the N.Y.streets

A cop was shot in the head by a 10 years old kid
Named Buddah in Central Park last week
The fathers and daughters are lined up by the coffins
By the Statue of Bigotry, hey

You better hold on
Something’s happening here
You better hold on
Well, I meet you in Tompkins Square

The dopers sent a message to the cops last weekend
They shot him in the car where he sat
And Eleanor Bumpers and Michael Stewart
Must have appreciated that

There’s a rampaging rage rising up like a plague
Of bloody vials washing up on the beach
It’ll take more than the Angels or Iron Mike Tyson
To heal this bloody breach, hey, hey

You better hold on
Something’s happening here
You better hold on
I’m gonna meet you in Tompkins Square

A junkie ran down a lady a pregnant dancer
She’ll never dance but the baby was saved
He shot up some China White and nodded out at the wheel
And he doesn’t remember a thing
They shot that old lady ’cause they thought she was a witness to
A crime she didn’t even see
Whose home is the home of the brave
By the Statue of Bigotry, hey

You better hold on
Something’s happening here
You better hold on
Meet you in Tompkins Square

You got a black .38 and a gravity knife
You still have to ride the train
There’s the smelly essence of N.Y. down there
But you ain’t no Bernard Goetz, ah
There’s no Mafia lawyer to fight in your corner
For that 15 minutes of fame
The have and the have nots are bleeding in the tub
That’s New York’s future not mine, oh

You better hold on
Something’s happening here
You better hold on
You better, something’s happening here
Hold on, ooohhh, babe

Hold On