Magic And Loss (The Album)

“[Who is this record about? – Ed] One of them is Doc Pomus, a great friend of mine. Not a day goes by when I’m not painfully aware that I can’t just pick up the phone and call him and hear his growling voice. The other person’s name is Rita but the name wouldn’t mean anything to you. I think of this [album – Ed] as a gift to listeners; it’s a life-lesson about how you deal with loss. Of course, it helps if the listener has a little life experience: it’s not aimed at little girls. These people who died, there’s so much to be learned from them. I think of this as a very up record because it’s how you get something positive out of something so seemingly tragic as that. And yet in this particular situation, there’s a magic that transforms things. The magic is what makes it possible to deal with something like this. It [the album – Ed] is like a friend talking to you. It’s cleansing for the soul. That’s why I think it’s such a positive record because it gives you something you can really grasp on to. This record gives the listener something more than music. When loss enters your life, what do you do? Do you go out and get drunk? In the end you wake up; the person’s still gone; you can’t stay drunk forever; you still have to deal with it.”Lou Reed (1093)
“I came to understand that the album was about transformation. Alchemy. The purpose of alchemy wasn’t to transform lead into gold, that was just one example of the process, to be used later to transform yourself. I call the album ‘Magic And Loss’ because that experience can be taken two ways. That’s why the song ‘Power And Glory’ occurs twice, in different forms. A whole different tempo, a whole different way of looking at the exact same thing. The way they [Doc Pomus and Rita – Ed] faced illness and death was very inspirational. In the end, it was a magical experience. A positive experience. Positive to have known them, positive to have watched them go through this. When, to quote myself, ‘you loved the life others throw away nightly’. I thought they were giants. The songs are in a particular order for a purpose, it’s supposed to take you to a certain place. And that’s a really positive state. This is not a negative, down album. I’m not the only person in the world who’s experienced loss. Everybody has a brother or sister or father or friend somewhere that died and that means they can understand. You just have to have been alive for a little while to experience it. It’s not a mystery. It’s real life giving you a real hello, welcome to the club.”Lou Reed (1094)

The Power And The Glory

“There’s a song – ‘The Power And The Glory’ – that’s repeated, but the song is transformed when it’s repeated. At the beginning of the record, the song is defining the situation and the illness from the outside – You loved the life that others throw away lightly. Towards the end of the record, the song reappears, but this time it’s upbeat, not melancholy, and it’s approached proudly. The album is about how that transformation takes place.”Lou Reed (1093)

The Warrior King

“There’s a song, ‘The Warrior King’, which is about the anger that the narrator of the record feels about what the disease [AIDS – Ed] is doing to his friends. Of course, he’s impotent; there’s nothing he can really do about it. You have the best doctors in the fucking world sitting there – they’re going to try new techniques, they’re going to put isotopes the size of a nickel inside you. The cure is to try and kill the cancer but, unfortunately, in the process, they’re killing healthy cells – you. It’s whichever gives out first. We’re talking about people with indomitable spirit. Nonetheless, nonetheless, they do not survive the process. This puts the narrator in a rage and he pictures the disease as a person and himself as the warrior king. The warrior king seems like the only character powerful enough to beat something as all-powerful as this enemy. ‘The Warrior King’ is a fantasy figure and, of course, the disease is not a person. And that kind of rage which is internalized in a fantasy is not a healthy thing. That kind of anger will turn on you; you cannot walk around like that. I believe that. This is a situation in which you’re impotent. Nothing you can do will actually change things. That’s that – like two and two is four. If you get mad about that and carry the anger around inside, it affects the way you think. You have to move past that anger or you will have nightmares at the very least.”Lou Reed (1093)
“The character singing is very mad at the elements that have attacked and killed his friends. But there’s no person to aim it at, with terminal illness. It’s like, if you could take a physical, malleable form, I’d take you in an alley and do this, and this, and this. It’s if I could, if I could… but with death, you can’t.”Lou Reed (1094)

Harry’s Circumcision – Reverie Gone Astray

“The next song, ‘Harry’s Circumcision – Reverie Gone Astray’, is an example of how that anger can push you off in a negative direction. It’s a kind of nightmare with some laughs.”Lou Reed (1093)
“So it’s that anger that causes the song afterwards, ‘Harry’s Circumcision’, because you can’t walk around with that anger in your heart. It causes these very negative thoughts, which is what ‘Harry’s Circumcision’ is all about, taken to its natural conclusion [attempted suicide – Ed].”Lou Reed (1094)

Magic And Loss – The Summation

“You can call it a spiritual awakening, or whatever you like. Things look a certain way, like you’re driving directly into a wall. There’s nothing you can do about it. But no, it’s a door. You just didn’t see it. And a door, obviously, can be opened. It depends how you look at things. The song ‘Magic And Loss’ I find very uplifting. It’s resolving the whole album. You don’t wanna come to the end of that experience still feeling splintered. You have to reconcile yourself to it. But hopefully, it’s a reconciliation with a lot of positive aspects to it. It’s an inspiring thing, what I witnessed. I want to be as good as them. These were the people who were inspiring to me right the way through the last minute. It’s really sad not being able to call Doc Pomus up right to this day, because he was like the sun. He was just one of those people that you feel good when you’re around them. You could be feeling bad, and you visit them and they say two words and you feel good. But then, it would have been even worse not to have known him at all. That’s part of the whole magic and loss deal.”Lou Reed (1094)

Set The Twilight Reeling

“Uh, as in exploding…as in shattering, an explosion of birth and sun… shatter the twilight, explode it, shake it, make it real. I’d simply been taking pictures from my roof at twilight, and it was so beautiful. I think that’s all I meant by it.”Lou Reed (1095)

Egg Cream

“‘Egg Cream’ is about the Young Man.”Lou Reed (1095)

New York City Man

“‘New York City Man’ is about the Present Man.”Lou Reed (1095)

Finish Line

“‘Finish Line’ is… well, it’s obvious. And then the rest of the songs fill in that mid-period. ‘Finish Line’ is very intense. [Finish Line was dedicated to Sterling Morrison, guitarist with Velvet Underground – Ed].”Lou Reed (1095)

Satellite Of Love

“It took me 30 years to figure out that ‘Satellite Of Love’ was about jealousy.”Lou Reed (1096)


“What ‘Berlin’ is about is jealousy, and any man has to understand that – jealousy, rage, humiliation. And I don’t know anyone who’s never been jealous. I mean, none of us wants to be, that’s for sure. There are some real problems with women that we all go through; that’s just the way it is. Unfortunately for me there were a couple, starting in college. Terrible. If nothing else in life, I hope that never happens to me again – that kind of relationship, that terrible rage.”Lou Reed (1097)
“And Berlin, if it’s about anything, it’s about jealousy. Talk about a universal emotion?! No one hasn’t been jealous; amongst all the other things, but big time, the guy’s jealous! He’s being killed by jealousy. A lot of things are going on on top of it all… The green-eyed monster it is.”Lou Reed (1098)