Turning Time Around

Lou Reed is an old man in rock years, but he continues to be born again

Like Set the Twilight Reeling, on which Reed portrayed himself as "the star newly emerging" at the album's conclusion, Ecstasyalso ends on one of Reed's dour but somehow optimistic notes: "Big sky holding down the sea," he groans, "but it can't hold us down anymore." But it's not the disc's highlight. That title belongs to "Like a Possum," a "guitar symphony" (as Reed likes to call it) that begins where other songs end -- at the violent climax, the cathartic explosion. After more than 30 years as a public performer, the old man is born again in this beautiful chaos, in white noise that draws you in and wears you out. And it's the perfect song for Lou Reed to perform now. Like him, it never quite begins and never quite ends. It just exists, almost forever.

"With "Like a Possum,' I wanted the listener to have a different view of time," Reed says. "Like, this song goes on for 18 minutes, so it's a rare instance in today's music where you can sit back or whatever and give up to the music and just let it take you away. It's not going to end in two minutes, three minutes. You can just go with it. And it's a different way of looking at time, I thought. The song's tempo is not slow, but because the song is longer, there's a sweep to it you don't normally get, and you can experience it on a CD. It blows my mind. It really does. I just can't believe it."

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