So Lou Reed is dead. While I haven’t blogged much about music on this site yet, it’s a big part of my life, and this news today has rocked me. It’s too early to tell for sure why Lou died, but he was 71 and had a pretty nice run for a dude who put his body through some bad, bad shit. Keith Richards somehow outlasts another one….
For a musician, Lou Reed was a great writer. He considered the records he made to be chapters in what he called his “Great American Novel”. His songs seem to me to be like reportage from the doorway to Hell. Lou made it possible for rock songs to take on real people and real situations. Let’s run through some of the topics he made music about: transvestism, murder, domestic abuse, drug abuse, S & M, violence, bingeing, insanity—what’s it all add up to? Great Fucking Art. You never felt like Lou was just a tourist down these dark alleys. He’d seen and done a lot of shit. His lyrics just tell you like it was, without judgement. Bring your own moral if you want to, Lou didn’t fuck with morals.
Musically, I have mixed feelings about Lou Reed. My very favorite types of music involve great composition and superior musicianship. Prog rock, jazz, fusion, etc. Lou, instead, brings a rawness to most of his stuff that I sometimes wish was a little more polished. But sometimes, we need the raw, the honest, the unpolished. It serves its own purpose. Lou considered rock to be truth, unvarnished. He didn’t waste too much time on making it pretty.
One chord is fine. Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you’re into jazz.
Lou didn’t do jazz. Lou did Lou. He was one of a kind.