Tag Archives: Lou Reed

Losing Lou

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I saw Blue is the Warmest Color this weekend. It blew my mind. It’s the kind of film that sends you reeling into yourself, remembering first love and the ache of it and high school and how much it blows. I’m in no mood for defending this film, but I’ve found myself doing that after reading some dismal reviews and “let’s take a second look” articles on it, mostly concerning the “male gaze” of the male director. I have no problem with the depiction of women in this film. As cinema-goers we are paying for entertainment. We are all practitioners of scopophilia. I don’t expect justice or a less depraved world than the world I live in from movies. Love is messy. First love is especially messy: it can make you hoarse and ragged. Anyway, this film is beautiful and has stayed with me for two full days, as I have been fogged with memories of old friends and lovers. And now Lou Reed dies.

I remember a friend in high school saying you’ve got to get this album, and it was the Velvet Underground’s Greatest Hits or Best of or whatever, and I loved every single song on it, and was mystified by Nico and her Teutonic phrasing and beauty. And Lou was so bad in a good way. A few years later a friend had Loaded (that deluxe edition from the mid-nineties) which I borrowed overnight to TAPE. Back then you would borrow a CD from someone for one night only and had to promise to bring it back and make sure it wasn’t scratched. I mean, friendships were broken over a CD not being returned or lost. It is funny to remember these times, not so long ago, when people really valued physical copies of music.

Later when I had developed more depth as an adult human being, who had been in love and known heartbreak (have YOU ever jumped on the hood of a moving car for love?), I listened to Transformer and thought it was a perfect album. And people I knew who were music nuts would say if you like Transformer don’t listen to Metal Machine Music, so I never did.

Even later I got a beat up vinyl copy of Street Hassle which I had found in a pitiful thrift store on St. Claude Avenue in New Orleans. The kind of store where you are worried a rat might jump out at you while you are digging. The cover resonated to me, and it spoke of drugs and the music made me feel like I was on drugs. Lou on the cover in those gold sunglasses and that red circle. What was that red circle? I thought it was a microphone or some kind of aleph.

And then I got Coney Island Baby. Which if you’ve ever listened to you don’t need me to tell you about it. So I won’t. Listen to it if you haven’t. And then I got into bad Lou Reed (which I wrote about on this blog here in 2010. I always returned to Coney Island Baby. “She’s My Best Friend.” “Coney Island Baby.”

I had a heavy Lou period at 24 in my first apartment I lived in alone. I would have friends come over and drink beer and listen to Lou, and we would sit on my Persian carpet with the lights down low and chill out. Really I could write about Lou Reed’s music for a long long time but everything seems trite. And it is personal, my moments with this music, as it is with you. A great artist died today and is worth remembering, so tonight I will remember him and play his music and try to be a better creator myself.

Bad Lou

I’ve always been a fan of  Lou Reed’s 198o album Growing Up In Public. I’ll be the first to admit that I hate starting off blog posts with the phrase I’ve always been a fan of…, but hey, it’s all I’ve got.  Where are the words?

After digging Transformer, Berlin, Coney Island Baby, and especially Street Hassle, I found Growing Up in Public at a thrift store and naturally expected to dig Lou’s foray into the 1980s. And I did, but I have a deep appreciation for corn. The production on this album was a clear departure from previous work. It’s more arranged. The back cover is a photo of his road band on a stage with their instruments- at least a dozen guys, looking they they’re about to seriously jam, Silver Bullet Band-style.

Here are my two favorite tracks off the album, “The Power of Positive Drinking”  and “My Old Man.” The latter is great, recalling Lou’s early Brooklyn childhood, and hero-worship of a father who turns out to be human after all. I’ve also included “Teach The Gifted Children,” which borrows from Al Green.

The Power of Positive Drinking- Lou Reed

My Old Man- Lou Reed

Teach The Gifted Children- Lou Reed

I think a lot of fans thought he went super-soft with this album, but I like soft!