Night Music: Iggy Pop, “Lust for Life”

I think of this song a lot, and that’s n0t a gimmick.

I’ve been reading the novel My Struggle, and the fictional young Karl Ove Knaussgard (not the writer, who shares his lead character’s name), is left alone for the weekend by his father. The year is 1985. On the first night alone he eats a lot of shrimp, drinks some beers, and then walks the street of his town listening to Iggy’s Lust for Life and one of the later Roxy Music albums on his Walkman. He marvels that with the music filling his head the sights he sees, the people working in stores and driving in cars, seem to be in an entirely different world than the one he’s living in. Later on that night, after perhaps a few too many more beers, he falls in the love in an earthshaking way with Hanne, a Christian girl who says she cannot fall in love with him. It is one of the three or four real loves, he recognizes, that he will have in his life.

The novel I cannot recommend highly enough. The song is a classic, but one that has become a little bit like wallpaper. Is it a car commercial? Or from a hip film? Or from a not so hip film? This is a song that has been iconized and exploited beyond redemption. But if you can cut through all that and turn it up, you will be awed. (This clip has the wackly poetic lyrics, too, which are a nice reminder of how loopy a great song can be. Just like hypnotizing chickens.)


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