The Hi Lifes sure got around: Their three songs on Soundsville! are supposed to exemplify the sounds of Detroit and Chicago and New York. Why not just invent three different bands for the purpose, as it was all fiction anyway? I have no idea, and history does not record the conversations that went on behind closed doors at Pickwick International.

We’ve already heard the “Detroit” song, “Soul City”; side B of Soundsville! begins with “First Impression,” theoretically the “Chicago” tune, and it sounds… pretty Motown?


Or maybe it’s more like the Impressions (as in Curtis Mayfield and), who hailed from Chattanooga, Tennessee, but later moved to Chicago. Oh, wait, the name of the song is “First Impression”; I get it now. Duh.

Next up is the “New York” tune, which is more upbeat but otherwise not very different. Maybe it’s the reference to fighting that makes it New Yorkish?


New York, of course, is where all this was actually happening. I assume that between sessions Lou was getting to know the city and its people, evolving into the guy who would start the Velvet Underground in just a few months, probably making it back to Freeport less and less.

At this point in the biopic I might be tempted to have him launch into a chorus of “New York, New York,” just for a change of pace. For some reason the idea of a young Lou Reed sneering “I want to wake up in the city that never sleeps” delights me. But it turns out that would not only be cheesy and stylistically inappropriate, but anachronistic.

Today I learned that that song — which is actually called “Theme from New York, New York” — was not written until 1977. It seems like it’s been around forever, but it’s no older than Star Wars. Which is pretty old at this point, but you take my meaning.

OK, where am I going with this? Absolutely nowhere — just feeling chatty today. I’ll cut it off there, and next time we’ll dig a couple of motor vehicle–themed songs.