Lou Reed, rest in peace.
So many people are eulogizing him – from critics he insulted to artists he inspired – I doubt I add anything unique to the critique of his life and career. I’m also not a thoroughly devoted fan in that I haven’t listened to anything he wrote over the last twenty years. (What caught my interest most recently was learning that he was married to Laurie Anderson.) But still, he’s a musician who carved his initials in a piece of my soul.
As his music lives on beyond his time on earth, I invite you to check out three of my personal favorites:
“Rock and Roll” (Loaded)
Loaded was Reed’s last album with the Velvet Underground and features one of the best songs to listen to on a transistor radio, if they even make them anymore. At least here you can hear it on vinyl:
This song framed the first video you see on the tour through the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. It sums up why the building was built: as a testament to that “fine, fine music.”
“Intro/Sweet Jane” (Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal)
I discovered this while I was in college. It became one of those songs I’d play with earphones on and eyes closed to recover from a terrible day.
“Nobody but You” (Songs for Drella)
In 1990 Reed and his former Velvet Underground bandmate John Cale recorded Songs for Drella, a tribute album to Andy Warhol (who was nicknamed by Reed as being a cross between Dracula and Cinderella). This song had a bit of airplay on alternative radio at the time, benefiting from its proximity to Reed’s successful New York. It’s written from Andy’s point of view as his public notoriety, personal distaste and physical pain intersect after being shot by Valerie Solanas:
Lou Reed’s songs were streetwise and romantic, haggard and buoyant, coy and frank, all at once. He gave the deviants a voice and valued their stories. He showed the beauty in the grime. And he could be a sour SOB, too. But he was a revelation, and he is already missed. Thank you, Lou.
See you on the flip side …