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Pale Blue Eyes

Pale Blue Eyes

Lou Reed [improvisational lyrics by Lester Bangs]

Sometimes I feel so happy
and sometimes I feel so sad.
Sometimes I feel so happy,
but mostly, baby, you just make me mad.
Well, baby, you just drive me mad.
Linger on your pale blue eyes.
Linger on your pale blue eyes.
I thought of you as my mountain top.
I even thought of you as my peak.
I made the mistake of thinking about you as everything
I had but I couldn't keep.
I've had this sad life,
and I just couldn't keep.
Linger on your pale blue eyes.
Linger on your pale blue eyes.
Walked a lot of corners for you;
stalked a lot of streets.
Midnight'd come around.
A lot of canceled beats.
Didn't seem worthy a treat.
So, G'bye Lou,[1] linger on your pale blue eyes.
Linger on your pale blue eyes.
If I could make the world as pure
and strange as what I see
I'd put you in the mirror
and hold it up in front of me,
Yeah, and hold it up in front of me.
Patti, linger on[2] your pale blue eyes.
Linger on your pale blue eyes.
She sailed away from you so sweetly,
I thought I did it so cleanly.
My clipper took the water till it sunk beneath the waves
And make this political scene with virgin eyes.
It would seem like I was livin' in a dream.
And start lingerin' on your pale blue eyes.
Linger on your pale blue eyes. [You li'l b*tch.]
I'd linger on for your pale blue eyes.
[Spoken] Like I said before, only Sterling Morrison[3] and Lenny Kaye[4] can ever play that solo right.
[Sung] Skip a life completely.
Stuff it into a cup.
An old blind man, he said, “You're like money and time
You know how your girlfriend and you lie, but can't stand up.”
He said, “To be down in front of you is up.”
[Maybe he should just shut up.]
Linger on your pale blue eyes.
Linger on your pale blue eyes.
Crawl to the corner
no bones to scare.
Saw Jack Warner[5], sittin' on a bus stop there.
I said, “What a fellow.”
Who cares?
Linger on your pale blue eyes.
Linger on your pale blue eyes.

[Lester now singing] Think about a window pane,

dance floor, butterflies, your eyes.
Last night on TV
Saw a man with a golden arm
laugh a minute, take a shoe.
Don't forget to put in a 'lude.[6]
Ah, linger them eyes on and on and on.
Me and some friends, gonna kick some ass
Look out, baby, got to smoke some of that grass
Open up your eyes. I'm gonna make you lose it,
baby, baby, baby...
Gonna break, gonna break it, gonna run right through it
'Cause it feels like a [unintelligible]
Don't you know that's where the [?] found a pain in her chest
and the [?] boys play it down to their ankles,
all the n*ggers takin' out their shafts,
doin' the dance of life, like [?]
All the hippies, they stood in a line.
And the last little bulb, what a lot of [?]
Makes her never good at strippin' 'cause
all she did was rip it off
[?] one and all, friends goin' down
like it was [?] and I don't give a sh*t about the lyrics.
All I care is what appears at the end.
I like what you read between our [?]
and all of this business. Go, let's go, baby.
Go baby, go baby, go baby,...
Linger on, mama, your pale blue eyes.
Blame it on folk music, Lou, you stupid bastard.
We all get up and sing “Mustard Gas” now.
Have fun in your iron lungs.[7]
Tie yourself up in goat dung, then
Stay alive and linger on
starin' at both of your pale blue eyes.
Stay alive with the MC5.[8]
Wade deep in your pale blue eyes.
See you later, baby, in the pages of history.
There was a list, once.
We left it on the ground
'cause the paper was in the dirt.
Looks so fine, you gotta get by it folks.
All tight, then a little ol' fist
turned into a hand
wavin' “farewell,” burnin' on the land
Oh, goodbye, “Top 10 of the Underground.”[9]
So long, baby, hope you heard the sound of
Elton John[10] and all the computers on
all the emotional non-muters.[11]
Baby, baby, baby,... shut yourself down.
Then we're all gonna rip this rippin' sound.
Gonna kill those f**kers right in their seats.
All [?] ... gonna knock 'em for a loop.
Way out of their brains to their inbred noise.
Shoot 'em up dead, baby,...
My girl, my girl my girl, my girl told me once
I seen her …. [?] took a chance, and I said to her,
Then she said, “Linger. Stick around, boy.”
Your pale blue eye.
[Peter fumbling] Sh*t!
[Lester singing] Now, don't die.
[Peter speaking to Lester] Shhhh. Quiet. I'd like to dedicate that last few notes to Jane Friedman[11] for being such a good person.
[Lester speaking] I second that emotion.


track not included in the The Creem Office Sessions
original recording date: 1975-1976

Transcription by Lester Bangs Archive management, 2013.

Last Updated: 08/29/2016


Another in the Creem Office Sessions from 1975, this Bangs and Laughner jam is not included on the widely circulating WFMU bootleg. The track begins as a straightforward cover of the song written by Lou Reed for The Velvet Underground’s 1969 self-titled album. In his book, Between Thought and Expression, Reed confesses, the song was actually written for hazel-eyed Shelley Albin, his first love who was already married to another man. Reed's lyrics referencing this forbidden relationship are omitted from this version altogether.

Instead, in typical Bangs and Laughner fashion, the duo switches off between stanzas, and Lester ad libs his own lyrics while Peter struggles to corral them back into the paddock. Even though Lester’s lyrics are overtaken at times by Peter’s high-spirited riffs, the result is one of their better improvisations.

[1] "So, G'bye Lou": this references the three-part song performed early during the Creem Office Sessions, in which Lester makes a lingering point of his disenchantment with Lou Reed. (See "Good-bye, Lou.")

[2] "Patti, linger on": New York songwriter Patti Smith, whom Bangs adored and acknowledged as a muse, frequently covered "Pale Blue Eyes" in her live performances

[3] Sterling Morrison: Holmes Sterling Morrison, Jr. was one of the founding members of The Velvet Underground. Morrison played electric guitar and sang backing vocals for the group. He succumbed to lymphoma on August 30, 1995.

[4] Lenny Kaye: Songwriter, poet and guitarist for the Patti Smith Group, has also been a studio musician for R.E.M., Suzanne Vega and Alan Ginsberg.

[5] Jack Warner: Canadian-born Jack Leonard "J.L." Warner, a.k.a. Jacob Warner, of Warner Brothers Studios. During his final interview by Merv Griffin (media mogul of Griffin Entertainment involved in a gay palimony scandal during the 1980s), the aging Jack Warner launched into an ultra-conservative tirade with Griffin about "pinko communists." Clearly, Bangs intended the similarity with storybook character Little Jack Horner's name.

[6] 'luud: Quaalud; methaqualone sedative

[7] "Mustard Gas now / ...iron lungs": sulfur mustards used as a chemical warfare agent, producing life-threatening blisters in the lungs. The U.S. military discontinued using mustard gas in favor of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. Frank Zappa's sickly childhood in Baltimore is alleged to have resulted from exposure to mustard gas at a nearby chemical warfare facility; these prolonged period of illness, Zappa claimed, were formative in his emergent musical interest. Decades later, during the 1970s, reports of brain damage caused by prolonged glue-sniffing in the U.S. lead companies like Testors Glue to add mustard gas elements to their product as a foul-smelling deterrent.

[8] The MC5: Michigan rock band whose debut album, Kick Out the Jams, inspired one of Bangs's earliest reviews and is considered seminal to the start of his career as a rock journalist. Members included Rob Tyner, Wayne Kramer, and Handsome Dick Manitoba, all of whom were close cohorts to Bangs. In July 1976, Punk Magazine published a comic photoplay of Handsome Dick Manitoba and Lester Bangs in a professional wrestler-style "death match." In 1978, Lester Bangs and The MC5 performed at New York City venues like CBGB's and Max's Kansas City.

[9] "Top 10 of the Underground": Likely a reference to Lester's top ten favorite songs by the Velvet Underground.

[10] Elton John: Reginald Kenneth Dwight, a.k.a. Sir Elton John, rock superstar.

[11] "all the emotional non-muters": a reference to Tommy, the 1969 rock opera by The Who. In the 1975 film adaptation, Elton John played the reigning Pinball Wizard who is eventually dethroned by the titular character, a young man who is blind, deaf, and mute.

[12] Jane Friedman: Patti Smith's manager who, with partner John Cale, started SPY Records in 1977, the label that issued Lester Bang's first and only 7-inch single, "Let It Blurt" b/w "Live," after Ork Records exhausted its funds to produce a Lester Bangs EP. Friedman later became CEO and founder of Open Road Integrated Media.

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