250 Words #1 - Lou Reed's Street Hassle
Telling of a love affair that begins and ends before ever being able to speak of it, Street Hassle is a remarkable piece of storytelling. It appears to be musically straightforward but such an impression gives way to reveal a lyrically and thematically complex song, which is amongst Reed's best.
The story is of a young girl meeting a boy at a party and their slipping away to a back room cuts sharply to a brutal monologue where, having died during the night, it is suggested that she is dumped on the street to look like a hit-and-run. The song closes with Reed singing from the point of view of the girl, looking at the events of the night during her last moments alive, in which she pleads with herself, "...please don't slip away"
Set to little more than a warm two-note bass riff, it is the delicate and chilling addition of a single cello and a ghostly and wordless backing vocal by Genya Ravan that elevates this song to greatness. Despite occasionally being barely there, Street Hassle is heartbreakingly sad and yet quite beautiful, telling of the best and worst that life can offer.
Street Hassle appears as Track 3 on the album of the same name. (Arista Catalogue Number 262270) or as Track 6 on NYC Man (BMG Catalogue Number 74321984012).