Lou Reed and Metallica have been leaking details about their collaborative album in drips and drabs, but with Lulu streaming today in full, we finally have a chance to assess the record in its proper context. At 95 minutes, though, the thing doesn’t exactly encourage responses that are both timely and thoughtful about what members of each camp have ranked among their best work — and the best work of all humankind. As we struggle to come to grips with 19-minute orchestral finale “Junior Dad,” here are five of the album’s most indelible lyrics — for better or worse (we report, you decide, obvs):
1. “I would cut my legs and tits off / When I think of Boris Karloff and Kinksi / In the dark of the moon.”
That’s how the whole album begins on opening track “Brandenburg Gate,” with talking over stuttering, melancholy acoustic guitar. After Metallica joins, Hetfield keeps repeating the phrase “small-town girl” over power-ballad sludge, conjuring up visions of an alt-metal take on Tom Petty’s “American Girl” (don’t do it, Fred Durst). But it’s safe to say no other album has ever started quite like this.
2. “To be dry and spermless / Like a girl.”
If this line caught your eye when Reed and Metallica released the lyrics to “Frustration” a couple of weeks ago, then hearing it in Reed’s affectless voice, over atonal screeching and drums that act more as punctuation than as time-keeping device, is like experiencing it for the first time. You know how Reed has claimed that he inserted melodies from famous classical pieces in his divisive 1975 album Metal Machine Music? There’s a part toward the end of this where the guitar kind of brings to mind a section of “Paranoid Android.”
3. “A puny body and a tiny dick / A little dog can make you sick.”
Lulu‘s “Little Dog” turns out to be a restrained, atmospheric number, but Reed’s words jump out from the electro-acoustic tones the same way they did from the page when these lyrics first surfaced. Elsewhere: “Little doggie face to a cold hearted pussy” calls to mind a transgressive, freak-show alternative to Lady Gaga’s I want your whiskey mouth all over my blond south.” And the line “sniff your shit in the wind” is pretty memorable, too.
4. “You can’t put a butterfly in a jar.”
After a “1, 2, 3” and some churning modern-rock chords, these are the first words on “Iced Honey,” the most radio-friendly track here. The image keeps coming up throughout the song, but here’s the thing: You can trap a butterfly in a jar. It’s just not good for the butterfly. Ask Weezer.
5. “Kotex jukebox.”
We’re pretty sure these two words never appeared together side by side like this until Reed said them over the heavy, squiggly 11-minute drone of Lulu‘s “Dragon.” And yeah, listeners streaming the album while browsing may find themselves looking up at other points in the song, too — “An idiot’s idiocy”?! That’s classic — or at least making sure nobody else is in earshot (we also get plenty of S&M-tinged sexual imagery). But “Kotex jukebox” appears to stand as the track’s unique contribution to the English language. “Are we both dead now?” Reed asks as the music ends. And… scene.