STREET HASSLE

Lou Reed's album version

Waltzing Matilda whipped out her wallet
The sexy boy smiled in dismay
She took out four twenties 'cause she liked round figures
Everybody's queen for a day
Oh, babe, I'm on fire and you know how I admire your-
-body why don't we slip away
Although I'm sure you're certain, its a rarity me flirtin'
Sha-la-la-la, this way

Oh, sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la-la-la
Hey, baby, come on, lets slip away

Luscious and gorgeous, oh what a humpin' muscle
Call out the national guard
She creamed in her jeans as he picked up her knees
From off of the Formica topped bar
And cascading slowly, he lifted her wholly
And boldly out of this world
And despite people's derision
Proved to be more than diversion
Sha-la-la-la, later on

And then sha-la-la-la-la, he entered her slowly
And showed her where he was coming from
And then sha-la-la-la-la, he made love to her gently
It was like she'd never ever come
And then sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la-la-la
When the sun rose and he made to leave
You know, sha-la-la-la-la, sha-la-la-la-la
Neither one regretted a thing

(Oooooh)

(Slip away, Oooooh)

Hey, that cunt's not breathing
I think she's had too much
Of something or other, hey, man, you know what I mean?
I don't mean to scare you
But you're the one who came here
And you're the one who's gotta take her when you leave
I'm not being smart
Or trying to be cold on my part
And I'm not gonna wear my heart on my sleeve
But you know people get all emotional
And sometimes, man, they just don't act rational you know
They think they're just on TV

Sha-la-la-la, man
Why don't you just slip her away

You know, I'm glad that we met man
It really was nice talking
And I really wish that there was a little more time to speak
But you know it could be a hassle
Trying to explain this all to a police officer
About how it was that your old lady got herself stiffed
And it's not like we could help
But there wasn't nothing no one could do
And if there was, man, you know I would have been the first
But when someone turns that blue
Well, it's a universal truth
And you just know that bitch will never fuck again
By the way, that's really some bad shit
That you came to our place with
But you ought to be more careful around the little girls
It's either the best or it's the worst
And since I don't have to choose
I guess I won't and I know this ain't no way to treat a guest
But why don't you grab your old lady by the feet
And just lay her out in the darkest street
And by morning, she's just another hit and run
You know, some people got no choice
And they can never find a voice
To talk with that they can even call their own
So the first thing that they see
That allows them the right to be
Why they follow it, you know, it's called bad luck

Well hey, man, that's just a lie
It's a lie she tells her friends
'Cause the real song, the real song
Where she won't even admit to herself
The beatin' in her heart
It's a song lots of people know
It's a painful song
A little sad truth
But life's full of sad songs
A penny for a wish
But wishin' won't make you a soldier
With a pretty kiss for a pretty face
Can't have its way
Y'know tramps like us, we were born to pay


Love has gone away
And there's no one here now
And there's nothing left to say
But, oh, how I miss him, baby
Oh, baby, come on and slip away
Come on, baby, why don't you slip away

Love is gone away
Took the rings off my fingers
And there's nothing left to say
But, oh how, oh how I need him, baby
Come on, baby, I need you, baby
Oh, please don't slip away
I need your loving so bad, babe
Please don't slip away


Page last updated: 28 Oct 2013

Info

STREET HASSLE is a song written by Lou Reed who released it in March 1978 on his album Street Hassle. The song is 10 minutes and 56 seconds long and is divided into three distinct sections: "Waltzing Matilda" (3:20), "Street Hassle" (3:31), and "Slipaway" (4:02).

[Click thumbnail to enlarge/reduce artwork]

The above lyrics are for the original Lou Reed version of STREET HASSLE as released in 1978.

Springsteen's Guest Appearance

Bruce Springsteen makes a guest appearance on this song, with a brief rap during the "Slipaway" section (from 9:02 to 9:39, lyrics above in bold). He is not credited for his performance in the liner notes to Street Hassle, possibly due to his ongoing legal battles with former manager Mike Appel at the time.

In an interview published in Rolling Stone magazine issue #551 (04 May 1989), journalist David Fricke asked Lou Reed how did Springsteen come to recite those lines on STREET HASSLE. Reed explained, "Because if I'd done them, they'd have come out funny. And when he did it, it sounded real. He was at the same studio, the Record Plant. It wasn't making it with me doing it. So the engineer said, 'Why don't you ask Bruce to do it? He could really do that.' So we asked Bruce to do it, and he rewrote it a little." STREET HASSLE, or at least Springsteen's part of the song, was recorded in October 1977 at The Record Plant in New York City, NY, when Springsteen was at the New York studio recording his Darkness On The Edge Of Town album.

In the last line of the rap, Springsteen states "tramps like us, baby we were born to pay", an altered quotation from his own song BORN TO RUN. As Reed explained to Fricke, it was him who wrote that part. "It had been written with him in mind, but he wasn't there. I was just playing off the title."

Bruce Springsteen and Lou Reed

Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band opened for headliner Lou Reed and his backing band The Tots on 23 Mar 1973 at Palace Theatre in Providence, RI.

In May 1978, Bruce Springsteen attended a Lou Reed concert at Bottom Line in New York City, NY. The show is officially released on Reed's live album Live: Take No Prisoners. Reed mentions and greets Springsteen during his lengthy monologue in WALK ON THE WILD SIDE (at 5:33), saying: "Hi Bruce. Springsteen is alright by the way. He gets my seal of approval, I think he's groovy. You notice the way the critics turned on him, like after they were on him, right?" It's hard to be certain, but Reed seems to invite Springsteen on stage to perform his spoken parts on STREET HASSLE, but Springsteen seems to turn down the invitation. An exchange in the audience during the song can be heard at 6:26, along with what sounds like Springsteen's voice.

In the 1989 Rolling Stone interview, Lou Reed said about Springsteen: "I like him in concert. He's a great live performer. What I really like is the little skits with Clarence and everything, these great spoken introductions."

Official Releases

Besides its inclusion on the Street Hassle album, Lou Reed's studio version of STREET HASSLE was also included on several other official releases:


Lou Reed -- Street Hassle

12-inch single - Arista (SP-14) - USA, 1978

1-track promo single, contains a 4:02 edited version of STREET HASSLE.

Side A: STREET HASSLE [mono]
Side B: STREET HASSLE [stereo]

Lou Reed / Velvet Underground -- "Street Hassle / I'm Waiting For The Man"

7-inch single - Arista (ARIST 198) - UK, 1978

Contains a 4:02 edited version of STREET HASSLE.

Side A: STREET HASSLE
Side B: I'M WAITING FOR THE MAN

Lou Reed / Velvet Underground -- "Street Hassle / I'm Waiting For The Man - Venus In Furs"

12-inch EP - Arista (ARIST 12198) - UK, 1978

Side A, 01- STREET HASSLE
Side B, 01- I'M WAITING FOR THE MAN
Side B, 02- VENUS IN FURS

Lou Reed / Velvet Underground -- "Street Hassle / I'm Waiting For The Man - Venus In Furs"

12-inch EP - Emi (ED.13) - Australia, 1978

Side A, 01- STREET HASSLE
Side B, 01- I'M WAITING FOR THE MAN
Side B, 02- VENUS IN FURS

Various artists -- Arista AOR Sampler

2-LP - Arista (ALS 06) - USA, 1978

A promotional sampler containing tracks from Arista and Arista/Stiff albums released in the U.S. in 1978.

Lou Reed -- Rock And Roll Diary 1967-1980

2-LP - Arista (A2L 8603) - USA, 1980
2-LP - Arista (AL11-8434) - USA, 1980
2-LP - Arista (A2L 8603) - Canada, 1980
2-LP - Arista (DARTY 8) - UK, 1980
2-LP - Arista (301 442) - Germany, 1980
2-LP - Arista (2 ARS 39087) - Italy, 1980
CD - Arista (18434) - USA, 1993

Compilation album.

Various artists -- Greatest AOR Hits: Portrait Of A Decade

LP - Arista (AL8-8272) - USA, 1985

Various artists -- Back At The Edge

Cassette - Arista (AC-8436) - USA, 1986

Lou Reed -- A Rock & Roll Life

2-CD - Sire (PRO-CD-3358) - USA, 1989

A promotional sampler issued to coincide with the release of Reed's 1989 album New York.

Various artists -- Arista: A 15 Year History Of Rock

CD - Arista (D-154100) - USA, 1991

This album was issued as a companion to Arista Records' CBS-TV 15th Anniversary Concert, which benefited AIDS organizations nationwide.

Lou Reed -- Between Thought And Expression: The Lou Reed Anthology

3-CD - BMG (2356-2-R) - USA, 1992

This box set covers the first 20 years of Lou Reed's solo career. Comes in a fat jewel case.

Lou Reed -- Between Thought And Expression: The Lou Reed Anthology

3-CD - RCA (PD90621(3)) - Germany, 1992

This box set covers the first 20 years of Lou Reed's solo career. Comes in a long box.

Various artists -- Rebellious Jukebox: The CD Collection

CD - Melody Maker (MM REB JB 7001) - UK, 1993

Mail-order-only 14-track compilation album issued by Melody Maker.

Lou Reed -- The Definitive Collection

CD - Arista (07822-14610-2) - USA, 1999

16-track Lou Reed compilation album.

Lou Reed -- El Lado Salvaje: Los Grandes Exitos 1972-1986

2-CD - BMG Ariola (74321 64365 2) - Spain, 1999

Spain-only compilation album.

Lou Reed -- The Wild Side

2-CD - BMG (unknown catalogue number) - Australia, 2000

Australia-only compilation album.

Lou Reed -- Meer Dan Het Beste Van 1972-1986

2-CD - RCA (unknown catalogue number) - Holland, 2000

Holland-only compilation album.

Various artists -- The Squid and the Whale

CD - Ultra Records (unknown catalogue number) - USA, 2005

Soundtrack album to the motion picture The Squid and the Whale.

Live History

As far as it's known, Bruce Springsteen has never performed STREET HASSLE live.

Covers and Appearance in Popular Culture

Rock band Simple Minds covered STREET HASSLE in an abbreviated version on their 1984 album Sparkle In The Rain. Drone rock band Spacemen 3's song ODE TO STREET HASSLE employs similar music to STREET HASSLE. It was released on their 1987 album The Perfect Prescription.

STREET HASSLE is featured in the last scene of the 2005 film The Squid And The Whale, and also appears on the film's soundtrack album.

Credits / References

Thanks Jake (ol'catfishinthelake at BTX and Greasy Lake).

Some of the above info is taken from Brucebase.

Request

Please contact me if you have scans for or info about any official release containing STREET HASSLE that's not mentioned on this page. I also need scans for the following releases:

  • Lou Reed / Velvet Underground -- "Street Hassle / I'm Waiting For The Man" || 7-inch single - Arista (ARIST 198) - UK, 1978
  • Lou Reed / Velvet Underground -- "Street Hassle / I'm Waiting For The Man - Venus In Furs" || 12-inch EP - Emi (ED.13) - Australia, 1978
  • Various artists -- Back At The Edge || Cassette - Arista (AC-8436) - USA, 1986

On the cover of the Street Hassle album, the reflection of a man appears on Lou Reed's glasses. It is possible that this is none but Bruce Springsteen. Please contact me if you have any information.

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