"The Blue Mask" as written by and Lou Reed....
They tied his arms behind his back
To teach him how to swim
They put blood in his coffee
And milk in his gin
They stood over the soldier
In the midst of the squalor
There was war in his body
And it caused his brain to holler

Make the sacrifice
Mutilate my face
If you need someone to kill
I'm a man without a will
Wash the razor in the rain
Let me luxuriate in pain
Please don't set me free
Death means a lot to me

The pain was lean and it made him scream
He knew he was alive
He put a pin through the nipples on his chest
He thought he was a saint
I've made love to my mother, killed my father and brother
What am I to do
When a sin goes too far, it's like a runaway car
It cannot be controlled

Spit upon his face and scream
There's no oedipus today
This is no play you're thinking you are in
What will you say
Take the blue mask down from my face
And look me in the eye
I get a thrill from punishment
I've always been that way

I loathe and despise repentance
You are permanently stained
Your weakness buys indifference
And indiscretion in the streets
Dirty's what you are and clean is what you're not
You deserve to be soundly beat

Make the sacrifice
Take it all the way
There's no "won't" high enough
To stop this desperate day
Don't take death away
Cut the finger at the joint
Cut the stallion at his mount
And stuff it in his mouth

Lyrics submitted by spliphstar

"The Blue Mask" as written by Lou Reed Bill Wray

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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The Blue Mask song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentLike a lot of songs on The Blue Mask album, there is hidden meaning behind "The Blue Mask." On the surface, it's a song about violence, torture, and pain. However, on closer inspection, the song may really be Reed's response to the critics who attacked him throughout his storied 1970s career for, essentially, not making Velvet Underground music. In this light, lines like "They tied his arms behind his back to teach him how to swim" take on new meaning, possibly indicating Reed's feeling that critics wanted to tie his future creativity to his past, essentially tying him down while telling him to go forward. Further lines like "I've made love to my mother, killed my father and my brother...when the sin goes to far it's like a runaway car; it cannot be controlled" make a mockery out of Reed's perennial fascination with alternative sexuality and fringe elements of society. The latter half of the line especially lends credence to this analysis, as Reed felt that he was trapped inside the expectation of perversity that critics both praised and sneered at in his 1970s work. The blue mask here is a metaphor, the mask Reed wore so often in his career shelter himself from critics and fans who wanted less an artistic endeavor and more a regurgitation of Transformer or The Velvet Underground and Nico. Taking it off is symbolic for Reed to move forward in the music he wanted to make; indeed, the 1980s were the most profound years for Reed since 1967-1969.

    In short, I believe this song is a watershed moment for Reed, both in shedding the spectre of his 1970s catalogue, skewering his critics, and setting the stage for the future (He produced 5 great albums in the 1980s). The music cuts like a scythe; truly impressive guitar work from both Reed and Robert Quine, and impeccable bass by Fernando Saunders. In my opinion, this is the best song ever written, and only competes with "Heroin" as my favorite song penned by Lou Reed.
    landfillpoeton November 24, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this song it's pretty explicit.. he's portraying what Lou cinically considers to be his true face. I love the way he's able to tie an hard lyric to an hard song. It's a perfect coniugaton between music and text: 5 minutes of pure violence
    Checco74on September 18, 2006   Link

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