Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thoughts on the passing of Lou Reed

1) By the time the news came down about Uncle Lou's passing, I had been mourning Shannon Jackson (with whom I had a personal connection) for a week. My vessel of sadness was full. Another reminder (like Mick Farren's earlier this year) that the generation of musicians that inspired me is leaving. (I remember when 71 seemed old.)

2) In 100 years, if our society (such as it is) survives that long, it won't matter one iota whether he was a mensch or a putz. The songs will still survive, however. I believe that the judgment of history will weigh him against Salinger and Roth as well as Dylan.

3) I'm glad that he found Laurie and they had 20 good years together.

4) Much of his legend was created by St. Lester in the pages of Creem, in the same way much of Don Van Vliet's was created by Langdon Winner in the pages of Rolling Stone. I believe Lester had it wrong: he obsessed on the piece of Lou that felt closest to his own Romilar-drunk confusion, and it didn't inspire his best writing; ultimately, it killed him. Lou got to reinvent himself several more times in the succeeding 30 years.

5) I bonded with two of my very best friends over Lou Reed records: my buddy Geoff from Philly over Ecstasy, and my buddy Phil from Missouri over The Quine Tapes.

6) I find much of Lou's subject matter as repellent as Irvine Welsh's Filth and all of Quentin Tarantino's pornography of violence: "Kicks," "The Gun," "The Rock Minuet." But in Lou's case, it's so artfully rendered, I can't look away.

7) I didn't really go the distance with Lou. I lost the thread after Rock and Roll Animal (a great Steve Hunter record, not Lou's), picked it up again at great length after reading about The Blue Mask (which I still dig less than the record that followed it; Lou was finding his feet again, and it took a minute). I think the string of albums from New York to Ecstasy was his zenith. I missed my one and only opportunity to see him live, when he played the Bronco Bowl in Dallas in '96. Missed Dylan there, too. Fuck me.

8) Like another of my personal saints, Ron Asheton, Lou did far more than you're supposed to be able to with only the most rudimentary guitar technique. From "I Heard Her Call My Name" to the '69 "guitar amp tape" version of "Sister Ray" to the "loud-soft sound" (saturated tones at conversational volume) that he developed after trying to shout his way over his Robert Quine-era band in arenas, Lou's guitarissimo epitomized something primal and fundamental about rock 'n' roll.

9) I think Fernando Saunders was his ultimate accompanist.

10) Rest in peace, magnificent bastard. These are only "thoughts," not "final thoughts." I'll be thinking about you as long as I still draw breath.


Post a Comment

<< Home