Since the moment I found out that LOU REED had passed, I spend the hours afterwards listening to the Lou Reed / Velvet Underground cds I have in my basement. I needed to to re-connect to the music that I once knew so well. Knowing the music is one thing but feeling it again brings it all back home.
I love Lou Reed – the street poet. I love the songs that were populated by people of the grittier side of the street: the down-and-out characters, the junkies, the trannies - all of them so far removed from my coddled middle class upbringing - all of them giving me that visceral edge to make me feel, somehow, real. I’ve never done drugs but after hearing “Heroin” I know what I must feel like. Lou Reed was also a romantic and a dreamer and that’s something I could definitely relate to.
I love the brutal honesty in his lyrics, the fearlessness in his music and an unwillingness to compromise or conform. These values would become the cornerstone of “Alternative Music”. This weekend I’ve also been streaming the new album from The Arcade Fire (Reflektor) and the connection between the two is so obvious: those values are very much a part of one of the genre's biggest bands today.
I’ve spent a lot of time reading; searching for something more - I know there's so much more that I've missed. I came upon this post at allmusic.com and thought it sums up a lot of it:
Musician and recording engineer Steve Albini hosts an online forum on the website for his recording studio, Electrical Audio, and when several users started a thread about Reed, the irascible Albini chimed in with the following:
"I didn't have the kind of epiphany many people did to Velvet Underground or Reed's music. I liked some of it, loved some of it, and didn't care for some, but the arc of his whole thing is just undeniably great and inspirational. 50 years of following his muse, whatever it happened to be at the moment. His music will either hit you or not, but one thing ought to matter to anybody who thinks music or art is worth pursuing for its own sake; Lou Reed, he did not give a f---. Did not give a single f---. I think of myself as not giving a f--- most of the time, but once in a while I wish to Christ I could give not a f--- as thoroughly as Lou Reed."