Street Hassle

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About Street Hassle

"Street Hassle" is a song recorded by Lou Reed for his 1978 album of the same name. It is 10 minutes and 56 seconds long and divided into three distinct sections: "Waltzing Matilda," "Street Hassle," and "Slipaway." Part one, "Waltzing Matilda," describes a woman picking up and paying a male prostitute. In Part Two, "Street Hassle," a drug dealer speaks at length about the death of a woman in his apartment to her companion. Part Three, "Slipaway," contains a brief, uncredited, spoken word section by Bruce Springsteen (from 9:02 to 9:39) and a dirge sung by Reed about love and death. It was recorded in E major. On the live album Animal Serenade, Reed says: "I wanted to write a song that had a great monologue set to rock. Something that could have been written by William Burroughs, Hubert Selby, John Rechy, Tennessee Williams, Nelson Algren, maybe a little Raymond Chandler. You mix it all up and you have 'Street Hassle'." Critics have described the song as being largely motivated by and representative of the end of Reed’s three-year relationship with Rachel Humphreys, a trans woman who died in 1990, likely of AIDS, and was buried in NYC's Potter's Field. Biographer Anthony DeCurtis summarizes the song as “something of a requiem for Reed and Rachel’s relationship.” In a 1979 article for Rolling Stone, Mikal Gilmore refers to Rachel as the "raison d'être" for the entire album.“Street Hassle" was included in 2008's The Pitchfork Media 500: Our Guide to the Greatest Songs from Punk to the Present. 


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Waltzing Matilda whipped out her wallet
The sexy boy smiled in dismay
She took out four twenties 'cause she liked round figures
Everybody's a queen for a day
Oh, babe, I'm on fire and you know how I admire your
Body why don't we slip away
Although I'm sure you're certain, it's a rarity me flirtin'
Sha-la-la-la, this way

Oh, sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la-la-la
Hey, baby, come on, let's slip away

Luscious and gorgeous, oh what a hunk of muscle
Call out the national guard
She creamed in her jeans as he picked up her means
From off of the formica topped bar
And cascading slowly, he lifted her wholly
And boldly out of this world
And despite people's derision
Proved to be more than diversion
Sha-la-la-la, later on

And then sha-la-la-la-la, he entered her slowly
And showed her where he was coming from
And then sha-la-la-la-la, he made love to her gently
It was like she'd never ever come
And then sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la-la-la
When the sun rose and he made to leave
You know, sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la-la-la
Neither one regretted a thing

Street hassle
Hey, that cunt's not breathing
I think she's had too much
Of something or other, hey, man, you know what I mean
I don't mean to scare you
But you're the one who came here
And you're the one who's gotta take her when you leave
I'm not being smart
Or trying to be cold on my part
And I'm not gonna wear my heart on my sleeve
But you know people get all emotional
And sometimes, man, they just don't act rational
They think they're just on TV

Sha-la-la-la, man
Why don't you just slip

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Lou Reed

Lewis Allan "Lou" Reed (born March 2, 1942) is an American rock musician, songwriter, and photographer. He is best known as guitarist, vocalist, and principal songwriter of The Velvet Underground, and for his solo career, which has spanned several decades. Though the Velvet Underground were a commercial failure in the late 1960s, the group has gained a considerable cult following in the years since its demise and has gone on to become one of the most widely cited and influential bands of the era. As the Velvet Underground's principal songwriter, Reed wrote about subjects of personal experience that rarely had been examined so openly in rock and roll, including sexuality and drug culture. more »

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Written by: LOU REED

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