As I'm sure you've heard, Lou Reed died yesterday. And yes, I know I am one of thousands writing about him today.
But, I can't help myself.
The Velvet Underground, and most importantly Lou Reed, was the springboard for everything for me. I found them accidentally. And it all started with a banana.
In 5th grade, I became obsessed with Andy Warhol. So, I bought a copy of The Velvet Underground & Nico at Rebel Rebel. I think I had it displayed in my room for awhile.
Then, one day, I took it downstairs, to the record player in the living room, and put it on. It was a shitty day, as I recall, I was already experiencing the early throes of depression, and I had just finished reading this.
(Which by the way, if you have never read, I highly recommend.)
So, I was looking for- something, I guess. I laid on the hardwood floor and shut my eyes and the first track began to play.....
The song washed over me in a way I had yet to experience. I was hooked. The rest of the album did not disappoint. Everything changed that day. I found something that reflected what I felt in a way I didn't know was possible. That album shaped my taste and influenced my aesthetics. I went on to fall in love with many many more V.U. and Lou Reed songs, the bulk of which were written before I was born. I have these clear, distilled moments in my life that were punctuated by these songs.
When I was 13 or 14, I was in NYC. It was Summer. It was about 100 degrees and I got in a cab, headed to Trash and Vaudeville, to no doubt buy something that made my parents cringe, and this cab driver was listening to The Velvet Underground, to Heroin. Swerving through the streets of Manhattan, sweating, with my eyes shut, listening to that song, which unfortunately reflected a lot of what was going on for me at the time*....it was one of those moments that still exists- you know the kind when everything else seems to stop and that moment gets to remain suspended and unaltered, forever? It was one of those.
(*I will argue that despite their influence- this song is not why I did drugs- and it's way more than a drug song. So, if you're inclined to blame behavior on media influence- just don't.)
Lou Reed's music has continued to punctuate my life in countless ways. Here are some of my favorites....
and of course.....
I never met the man, but his words, his music, his artistic contribution had a profound and fundamental affect on my soul. I am sad that he's gone, but happy that he has left us with indelible contributions.
It was good what we did yesterday.
And I'd do it once again.