Lou Reed and Metallica: “The View” available for download/streaming


This past Sunday, September 25, Metallica and Lou Reed made “The View”, the first single from the upcoming ten-song collaboration Lulu, available for streaming.  Monday (9/26), the song became available for download as a single on iTunes.  I’ve included the SoundCloud stream at the bottom of this post.

I haven’t downloaded the single myself, but that’s only because I will be purchasing the album the day it comes out.  As I mentioned before, this is a partnership that I am very excited about.

What follows are my initial thoughts about the song.

First of all, the music is powerful.  To my ears, this is, hands-down, the most sonically powerful music that has ever backed Lou Reed’s vocals/lyrics.  Metallica plays a slow, heavy Sabbath-like dirge behind Reed’s words, giving a sense of seriousness and finality to the song that reminds me of the effectiveness of the music in Reed’s 1992 death cycle, Magic and Loss.  The music style is different, of course, but the vitality of feeling is the same.

Secondly, Lou Reed sounds old at times.  This is the first time that I’ve heard him sound like an old man on a studio recording.  I didn’t get into him until he was over 50 anyway, but he’s 69 years old this year, and there is an occasional shakiness to his voice in this song that makes his age a part of the character of the song.

At the same time, Lou sounds passionate and strong.  In the transition between the second “verse” (Reed) and “chorus” (James Hetfield), James picks up the end of Lou’s conversation in a similar tone and chordal neighborhood, and it’s only a few words in that I picked up that it was James singing, on a few casual listens after I first heard the song when it became available for streaming.  I’m not suggesting that others will have the same experience; in fact, it’s not the experience I had the first time I listened, because I was paying rapt attention to each and every second of the song at that point.  I just wanted to comment about it because I think it illustrates, to some who may be skeptical that this is nothing more than some weird (unfortunate, abominable) mashup, that Metallica with Lou Reed works.  It makes sense.  This song leads me to believe that Lulu may turn out to be an artistic masterpiece.

Finally, the song sounds well-mixed / well-mastered.  Relative to the production snafu that was Metallica’s Death Magnetic (2008), this song sounds clean and clear, allowing the sonic strength of the band and the artistry of Reed’s lyrics and Reed’s/Hetfield’s vocals to shine together, rather than obscuring what is an historic collaboration.

This does not, by any means, sum up my thoughts, but I’m not going to write a thousand words about this song right now.  As a big fan of both Lou Reed and Metallica, I am happy to say that this song has done nothing but increase my desire to hear the rest of Lulu.  Here’s hoping that the entire album reflects the beauty and emotional might of this song.

Lou Reed and Metallica – “The View” from Lulu (2011) (note: the stream may not show up in feeds such as Google Reader; if this is the case, please click the title of this post to bring you to my page, where it seems to play just fine):

Post Script:  If you’re interested in how Lulu came together, there is an “About” section on their website that goes a bit more into detail about how the album came about and what the musicians think about the collaboration.


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