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Goodbye, Lou

Goodbye, Lou[1]

Lester Bangs and Peter Laughner

Part 1
[spoken] "You want to hear "Sister Ray"[2] like she's
suckin' on my ding-dong, suckin' on my ding-

[sung] See you later. Bye-bye. Boo-hoo.
Later, for your Sue-a-Sue-Sue.
She was waving with Sally walking a cheetah.
The last time we saw you
down by the bakery.
It's just a battle like your pantry
is in the end crumby. So what?
Baby, go down to the subway.
That's where you get your fix
lookin' for Nelson, Rick,[3] and
will he risk goin' to jail?
Never did you in your life
so, take your strife.
You can gather on the cuff
off the cuff, sway and swing
all through Europe,
Well you went on a long walk with you.
So goodbye, Lou.
Scuff a muffler on top of the sink.
C'me on baby, and dunk your drink
into the middle of the fields of the face of dawn
that keep crawlin' that bridge on and on
like Thornton Wilder[4] was dead on top.
He saw the face of a cop,
squirreling down upon his bended knees,
and, "Please, please, mother, mother,
Jim Brown,[5] please." Whoah-whoah-whoa.
James Brown has said, "No no."
Row, Johnny, row.[6]
Bye bye bye. So long.
Ain't no kaddish [7] in my bones.
Oh-whoah, bye-bye, Lou.
Bye-bye, Lou.
Well, I know where I'm goin'.
Good-bye, Lou...
Need to say, Lou, I just don't care.
So you get on a subway without no care.
Oh, what an admirable act you dare.
My friend, I'll pay your fare.
I really don't care
about your affairs.
So you go on, sayin',
"Look, look, look, look, look at my lip."
Where Warhol's people, they're all standing.
They're so bored. [?]
And I just wonder what's been gored
when the marrow's all so high, oh.
They stand up tomorrow.
[Standin' in the rain].
Then don't fall on the grou-ound.
Those angels go with you.
Goodbye, Lou.
[Standin' in the rain...]
[Spoken] "Not that he was. He was standin' there too long.
Part 2
Some people, they got good hearts.
Some people, they tear them apart.
You try to tell me that you learned your lesson.
I tried to tell you that there
was somethin' that you were forgettin'.
You know, about them all dyin'
in the 42nd Street hotel around Times Square,
where the flea circus[8] is an
entertainment for the children who go
down there, and I guess that
nobody even cares a damn anymore.
So you better just close the door
and kiss the night hello.
Bye-bye Lou.
Bye-bye Lou.
Bye-bye Lou.
Oh, bye-bye Lou.
[Come on, baby.]
Part 3
[Spoken] "D.S., 1 and 2 [?]" "Yeah. And Kurt Vonnegut,[9] and Stanley Kubrick,..."[10]
[sung] and all the kids back home
that never got their faces in Andy's flicks[11]
and all the ones in Andy's flicks
that never drew a paycheck,[12]
and on Dean[13], who never forgave,
and all the other complainers
that you don't write about.
Bye-bye, Lou.
Bye-bye, Lou.
You're the populous man of the crowd.
You ain't no leader. That's just a conceit.
Oh, bye-bye, Lou.
Bye-bye, Lou.
Bye-bye, Lou.
Almost good enough to be squalid.
Almost good enough to qualify.
Almost good enough to make it up.
I could have been a little confused, but...
I could have been a contender, too.
I could have been somethin'.
I could have been a contender, too.

[Lester "rants"]

You f**kin' bastard. You lead me on.

it my own waaaaaay.
Bye-bye, Lou.
Ba-ba-loo, bah-doo, ma-ma, my man.



The Creem Office Sessions bootleg cassette, MP3 disc
Tracks §3-5
WFMU (1975-1976), New Jersey; MP3 disc (2007)

Transcription by Lester Bangs Archive management, 2013.

Last Updated: 08/29/2016


[1] A free-form rant in three parts, recorded live in the Creem Offices circa 1976, and inspired by one of the greatest feuds in rock history, Lester Bangs versus Lou Reed—waged over time in a series of interviews, articles, and song lyrics. For all the rancor, Bangs professed a respect for the genre in which Reed and The Velvet Underground were among the most influential and pioneering artists. Bangs's criticisms of Reed's later work alleged that Reed had sold out his genius and his punk values. Music journalist Sasha Frere-Jones explains, "When Lou Reed put his songwriting through left-turns, drag, and feedback in the 1970s, Bangs stalked him, literally and figuratively. After a concert during Reed's 1973 tour, Bangs followed Reed to a hotel to play Little Red Interviewer on the Shoulder: "Isn't David Bowie a no-talent assh*le? Why don't you shoot speed any more?" Reed is too drunk to fight Lester off, but Bangs doesn't want revenge. He thinks Reed wants his audience to feel sorry for him, and this drives Bangs crazy. He's disappointed. He wants to BELIEVE Lou Reed is better than mere theater, even if no one else does." (Source: Frere-Jones, Sasha. "The Skeptical Believer." Slate 29 Aug. 2003.)

[2] "Sister Ray": This valedictory jam begins with an acknowledgment of the Velvet Underground's "Sister Ray," an improvisational punk anthem that Peter Laughner adapts as "Lester Ray" in the last track on The Creem Office Sessions

[3] Rick Nelson: a.k.a. Ricky Nelson, American musician, actor and singer-songwriter, notable for his role in The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and for hits such as "Hello Mary Lou," and "Teen Age Idol." 

[4] "crawlin' that bridge on and on / like Thornton Wilder": Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and novelist, Thornton Wilder, authored Bridge of San Luis Rey and Our Town.

[5] James Brown: American singer/songwriter, acknowledged as the "Godfather of Soul" and the founding father of funk.

[6] "row, Johnny, row": an allusion to Chuck Berry's 1958 rock-in-roll hit, "Johnny B. Good." (Chorus: "Go, Johnny, go....")

[7] "ain't no kaddish in my bones": In Judaism, the kaddish is a prayer recited by mourners; the lyric may also be an allusion to Alan Ginsberg's poem by the same title, written for his mother in 1959 and published in Kaddish and Other Poems in 1961.

[8] "flea circus": Hubert's Dime Museum on 42nd Street, in the basement of the Playland Arcade in Times Square, housed a flea circus and carnival side shows.

[9] Kurt Vonnegut, American author (Slaughterhouse-Five, Breakfast of Champions)

[10] Stanley Kubrick, American director/filmmaker (2001, Barry Lyndon)

[11] "Andy's flicks": Andy Warhol's infamous screen tests, a series of black-and-white slow-motion art films masquerading as audition tapes, and featuring Factory regulars such as Lou Reed

[12] "never drew a paycheck": many of the Warhol Superstars, like Edie Sedgwick and Nico, received no compensation for their involvement.

[13] James Dean: Andy Warhol capitalized on the iconic popstar in his art more than once.

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