Album: White Light/White Heat (1968)

Songfacts®:

  • "The Gift" is a short story Lou Reed wrote while attending Syracuse University. The story depicts the dark tale of Waldo Jeffers, who attempts to mail himself cross country to his girlfriend. In case there was any doubt (it was, after all, written by Lou Reed), the story does not end well for Waldo.
  • Through the left channel the story is read by John Cale in what he described as his best "BBC" voice, while a steady backbeat is pumped through the right channel. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Spencer - South Kingstown, RI
  • "The Gift" is perhaps the artistic centerpiece of White Light/White Heat, being yet another dark story with a twist ending. It fits in theme alongside "Lady Godiva's Operation" and "Sister Ray," while having a scenario which could have been an Alfred Hitchcock story. In fact, the TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents had its run in the years 1962-1965, a time period during which Lou Reed was also attending Syracuse University, and also the time period when he wrote The Gift. Could there have been some influence?

    Speaking of writers, one of Lou Reed's most influential mentors at Syracuse was the short-story author and poet Delmore Schwartz, who also wrote of dark subjects and Twilight Zone-like scenarios. In Schwartz's 1937 story In Dreams Begin Responsibilities, a young man is agonized while sitting in a theater watching a film which depicts his parents' disastrous relationship. He yells at the screen, trying to influence the outcome, until the ushers drag him out. Lou Reed, in a portion of the PBS TV series American Masters, calls it "the best short story I'd ever read."

Comments: 1

  • Joe from Perth, Australiai love this song and the live version kicks ass too
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