…the string bit in the background to the chorus of “Sad Song” on Lou Reed’s opus, Berlin.
I borrowed this CD from a CD rental place in Holland shortly before I headed to Berlin in the Christmastime of 1997. I remember the hostel being up a dark, gray interior stairway. I remember the warm wooden floors creaking as we padded in, tired, with mulled wine stirring in our gullets. I remember putting on my headphones in my bunk and hearing the beautiful, minimalist, sad songs on Berlin.
I can feel the sparse Teutonic nothingness of heroin-addled West Germany in this album. It is truly an artistic achievement.
And when I say it’s got some sad songs I mean sad songs. I’m talking about screaming children being pulled away from their (allegedly) unfit mother. I’m talking about a burlesque girl’s unrequited love. It’s rough, but thoroughly unique.
Wikipedia says of Berlin:
tells something like a love story of two junkies in the city of the same name. This, one of the more depressing albums ever made, includes “Caroline Says II” (violence), “The Kids” (prostitution and drug addiction), “The Bed” (suicide) and, unsurprisingly, “Sad Song.”
This album isn’t trendy, angsty, mid-suburban-pop-angst-goes-slumming-with-the-junkies, no, this is something much, much, more real.