Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lou Reed 1942-2013

The banner headline came first on Huff Post and then his legion of followers started weighing in on social media, finally the New York Times sent out its breaking news message  for its phone followers. (Monday's print edition had a front-page obit).  Something big happened. One of the giants of American culture of the past 50 years, Lou Reed died. If all we had was Lou's solo work he would be in among the first rank of rock artists. But then there's the Velvet Underground. They were a gamechanger.  Anything great since the mid 70s in Rock bore their distinct imprimatur--from Joy Division to Sonic Youth to Galexie 500 to Radiohead.  Besides the music, I don't think you could say this about anyone else in his generation; Lou Reed was never not cool.  Ever. One other thing about the Velvets and Lou's solo work that always struck me was how personal the music was. It was always to an audience of one.  Lou never wrote an anthem.

One of Lou's most devoted fans is the art critic Charlie Finch whose old WBAI radio program featured the Velvet's "We're Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together" as the show's theme song.  Charlie penned a lovely tribute to Lou and I asked him if I could post it. Here it is: 

THE THIN REED OF LIFE  Goodbye Lou/ Rock and Roll Heart/ You gave all us New York bohemians our start/ Vicious walkers on the dirty boulevard/ Softhearted inside, but always acting hard/ You taught us, Lou, to thrive and survive/ That our worst impulses were what made us ALIVE/ Now you are gone/ But you always were "gone"/ Sensitive to the blur that is living/ The necessity of creatively giving/ Even when you're hated and hurting inside/  Always up for another stiff glide/ I always waited for you, my man/ My back to the wall, I never ran/ "Ocean" was playing when my brother Will died/ And "Heroin" in my wild, stoned rides/ I teased David Bowie that he stole all from you/ An Upper East Side Wasp devoted to a Long Island Jew/ I finally met you through Chicago Fat Tony/ For creatively, Lou, you were my one and only/ So give Andy and Candy a kiss in the sky/ Through all tomorrow's parties/ I'll still be your guy GOODBYE LOU REED, CF

Well said Mr. Finch.  Thank you Lou. Thank you for being fearless.  You made history and changed the world. Ask Havel.