What could I say about Lou Reed that someone else hasn’t already? It would be disingenuous (and even disrespectful) to try.
I grew up listening to him, in various incarnations, without ever knowing it was him. My parents are classic rock junkies, or they were when I was little, and those radio stations had their few staple songs of his.
But I didn’t get interested in his music until I heard a collaboration he did a few years ago with the Killers called “Tranquilize.” His vocals were haunting and lovely and so too was his face in the video. I was intrigued at this singer who could seize a single note as well as he could your mind.
So I looked him up. And what a man, what a life.
I read about Metal Machine Music and how he recorded that entire album full of junk noise just to prove a point about the industry, and how he could not have been more right. And I thought, holy shit, he’s a genius. And he was.
I read about his relationships with German singer Nico and the extraordinary John Cale. I was (and remain) fascinated and awestruck by the mysterious Adamsian forces which propel people into and out of our lives.
I torrented the entire Velvet Underground discography, and his solo albums too. Not sure how he would feel about that, but I don’t even know how many times I’ve listening to him and John Cale sing “Perfect Day.”
There are some days when nothing else will do but his voice and his guitar. Nothing.
Regrettably, I was not able to mourn his death with a binge of his work. My laptop experienced an untimely death some weeks ago and remains in the hands of some Frankensteinian IT folk, probably in a lab somewhere. I don’t own a single piece of vinyl with his name on it (a problem I will remedy as soon as I get paid). And I did not have the foresight to load up my phone with VU or solo tracks before the aforementioned death of my computer, although thankfully those pirated MP3s are safely backed-up.
So, it might be a while before I can grieve properly. But, without a doubt, we lost someone special.
See ya round, Lou. Miss you already.