On the Death of Lou Reed (1942-2013)

Monday, Oct. 28, 2013

Funny, just this past weekend I watched two documentaries with Lou Reed in them, only to wake up Monday morning to find that he has gone to that great Elysian field where all musicians jam.

Lou Reed turned 35-years-old in the year this photo was taken, 1977.

I watched BBC Four’s documentary about Ziggy Stardust, that is about David Bowie’s five key albums: “Space Oddity” (1969), “The Man Who Sold The World” (1970), “Hunky Dory (1971), “The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust” (1972) and “Aladdin Sane” (1973). To be honest, those could be Bowie’s only albums, and I don’t even like “Alladin Sane” that much. I admit, after those five, “Diamond Dogs” (1974) and “Young Americans” (1975) each have one good song, and that “Low” (1977) is a brilliant concept. (In fact, I do enjoy listening to “Low”.) But Bowie’s five key albums are those that matter most. The documentary featured Lou Reed quite prominently.

Then I watched two episodes from PBS/ Time Life’s 2004 “The History Of Rock & Roll”; I watched episode 8 “The ’70s” and episode 9 “Punk”. It’s a well-produced documentary series. Each episode is focused on a theme. The producers got some good interviews and have some great vintage film footage. Lou Reed featured quite prominently in “The ’70s” and in “Punk”.

Back in high school (grade 10 in 1991, grade 11 in 1992 and grade 12 in 1993), my sister had a tape of “The Velvet Underground & Nico” (1967), their eponymous first album. My Chevrolet Chevette, of course, had a tape player. And, being a diligent little brother, I quite often stole my big sister’s tapes. So on the ~20 minute drive to school, I’d often play “The Velvet Underground & Nico”. It was the coolest music I had in the car.

I had a few Monty Python tapes, my sister’s “Pyromania” and some Prince. But “TVU&N” was just cool. It sounded like a midnight seance. It sounded like rock and roll. It sounded intense. It sounded casual. The opening bells on “Sunday Morning” still ring in my ears. I’d sing “Femme Fatale” in the hallways, not really comprehending what all the lyrics– on that song or on any of the songs– meant. Then there’s the end riot of “European Son” as the album closes. My car stereo had auto-flip, of course, so as soon as “European Son” would end, it’d begin again with the bells of “Sunday Morning”. I can honestly say that I bonded quite well with that album.

I think tonight I’ll go home and put on “Transformer” (1972)… or maybe “White Light/ White Heat” (1968).

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