Lou Reed

Goodnight Ladies

Composed by Lou Reed

Song Review by

The closing track on Lou Reed's 1972 breakthrough Transformer album follows in the spirit of several past Velvet Underground numbers ("Ferryboat Bill," "I'm Sticking With You," "Afterhours") in that it is so utterly different from anything you might be expecting that it is, in a way, all but an archetype.

In this instance, laconic reflection drifts upon a compulsively downbeat "oom-pah" tuba riff, while Reed laments a lonely evening in front of the television with a TV dinner and a droll vision of both what the ladies are doing without him and what he could have done to keep them ("now, if I was an actor, or a dancer who was glamorous"). A mournful clarinet conjures up a suitably smoky nightclub feel and, if Reed had described the song as being influenced by the then newly released movie Cabaret, nobody would have been surprised.

Live, "Goodnight Ladies" turned up as a ramshackle closing number on some of Reed's 1974 live shows, although bootlegs alone capture the moment.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Transformer 1972 BMG / Sony Music
No Image 1983 RCA
3 CD Box Set 2003 BMG
Lou Reed/Transformer 2006 RCA
Original Album Classics [#2] 2008 RCA / Sony BMG
The RCA & Arista Album Collection 2016 Legacy / RCA 4:20
No Image 2016 Legacy / RCA / Sony Music 4:20
blue highlight denotes editor's pick