Thursday, October 25, 2012
At The Halloween Parade
One of the most touching songs I listen to year after year is Lou Reed's "The Halloween Parade." Situated on his now-classic New York CD, the song is the lone tender and melancholy offering on a record that is largely a diatribe against the problems of a city and a country. Most of the songs simmer with anger and sarcasm.
"The Halloween Parade," by contrast, is a lilting tune, whose pleasant guitar signature is undercut by the many variations of each verse's ending sentiment: "Especially to be here without you."
The song is a brilliant rendering of the annual Greenwich Village Halloween parade, especially as it focuses on the LGBT crowd in attendance. The extravagance of the event has made it synonymous with gay pride in a themed public display. Here are the opening details that set the scene:
Many of those problems that Reed articulates on New York have not gone away, including America's ambivalence towards its immigrants and its gay citizens. So much ambivalence, in fact, that both issues sit on the sidelines of our current presidential election. The complex emotions battling in the narrator of Reed's song stir me and connect me to a situation I might otherwise have no business understanding every time I hear it.
"The Halloween Parade," in Lou Reed's able hands and with the masterful monotone of his voice, reminds us that loss is one of the themes that rock and roll captures best. The song accomplishes what "Walk On The Wild Side" never could, even though it dealt with the same kinds of characters. Through a shared loss of loved ones, "The Halloween Parade" makes them become us.