Through all of the highways, the byways I've travelled
Through all of the sidestreets and alleys of sin
Through all that's been heard nothing sinks quite as low
As the prominent statements of prominent men

Prominent men tell prominent stories
Prominent men tell prominent lies
Prominent men kiss the ass of dame fortune
Prominent men will tear out your eyes

The streets that have life with the cat's underbelly
Aligned with their tracks of a thousand good-byes
A poor woman screams with the heat of disaster
As the prominent men sit and strengthen their ties

Oh, the prominent girls of the prominent people
Make prominent dresses and prominent hair
Oh, their prominent wealth and their eyes blazed with shadow
The prominent horrors with the ghost millionaire

The shiny stained window now cracked at sunset
They shiny red dawn of the heart soon must fall
This simply occurred at the seat of the cauldron
Those prominent men hadn't been there at all

Prominent men tell prominent stories
Prominent men tell prominent lies
Prominent men kiss the ass of dame fortune
Prominent men will tear out your eyes

Oh, the prominent child of these prominent people
Seeks prominent schools with the finery of age
With a prominent pink of a tasteless red orchid
The prominent men casts a prominent heir

The child of the agent walks barefoot upon grass
He screams with a power that terror's green eyes
His knife harshly glistening, stabs noways and always
But those prominent men in nowhere in sight

Prominent men tell prominent stories
Prominent men tell prominent lies
Prominent men kiss the ass of dame fortune
Prominent men will tear out your eyes


Lyrics submitted by Dasch

Prominent Men Lyrics as written by Lou A. Reed John Davies Cale

Lyrics © GARNANT MUSIC, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Prominent Men song meanings
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  • 0
    General CommentIs it just me or does this song sound VERY Dylan-inspired?
    jackrabbit37on January 02, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentjackrabbit37, this song probably is, in more ways than one. This song dates from 1965, when Dylan & the Velvets were hanging out w/ Andy Warhol. Google 'Velvet Underground', 'Bob Dylan', 'Edie Sedgwick', and 'Warhol' and you do the math.
    elephant_rangeon March 30, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwhat elephant said. haha.
    noyeson July 15, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is just about 'prominent men' i.e. the social elite who dominate all areas of society, some examples being literature ("Prominent men tell prominent stories") and politics and public life ("Prominent men tell prominent lies"). They are characterised primarily by their viciousness and ruthlessness, this is what is meant by the line "tear out your eyes".

    There are various references to typical upper class behaviours such as the mention of having an heir, the beautiful princess-like daughters et cetera. Indeed, there are many references to progeny throughout the song, foreshadowing the verse before the last chorus. Reed is discussing the destructive effect these people have on society without any repercussions: "The child of the agent walks barefoot upon grass / He screams with a power that terror's green eyes / His knife harshly glistening, stabs noways and always / But those prominent men in nowhere in sight." The child of the agent represents not necessarily the young working working class, but any social stratum subservient to the "prominent", incl. the middle class. I think this is especially alluded to in the mention of "green eyes", as the middle class are only one step away from riches and prominency, and hence provokes jealousy and fear in the person discussed. The child of the agent goes on a killing spree with a knife, but his victims are not the prominent men who started the cycle, and they go on unpunished.

    For further reading on this subject I would recommend the Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald which in a big way concerns itself with the lives of the rich. In that book, Tom and Daisy are described as "careless people" who break other people's lives and escape into their riches.
    lollig382on February 13, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYes, I would say this is very influenced by Dylan - down to the harmonica. I would also say that a number of the songs on the first album have a vocal delivery not dissimilar to Dylan.
    MamboManon April 18, 2012   Link

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