Monday, October 28, 2013

FFF: Lou

No, today is not Friday.

A Free Form, however, is the best way I can think of to process this loss.  And I don't think I can wait until Friday to write this.  Placing any other subject matter before the mourning of the passing of Lou Reed just doesn't seem right.  It needs to be done and it needs to be done now.

That's just it, though.  So much music, so many memories, so much that was given to the world by Lou Reed.  Where the hell do I start?   
Maybe at the beginning...when I heard the words before I heard the music.

(Damn!  Just listen to Lou spit nails in that song.)

It was 1989 and my friend John brought over the newly released New York album by Lou Reed.  I knew the name.  I had seen him in a photo with Duran Duran in Rolling Stone and wondered who the old man was.  Little did I know.  Then Lou appeared in an MTV 30 second blip between videos as he recited lines from Macbeth's famous "dagger speech" from the eponymous play.  I was reading Macbeth in school at the time and was enthralled.

"Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To feeling as to sight? Or art thou but
A dagger of the mind, a false creation,
Proceeding from the heat-oppress├Ęd brain?"
--William Shakespeare

So here was this hardcore looking dude, hanging with my favorite band, and reciting Shakespeare on MTV.  His voice imparting the sensation of diesel exhaust on a Manhattan street on a night when you should've stayed in but somnambulism brought you out and was a damn good thing you didn't listen to reason.  Yeah, you know what I mean. 
I needed to listen to him.

"Caught between the twisted stars, the plotted lines, the faulty map that brought Columbus to New York."

I began to see that this man was a musician for writers.  He did not sing the lyrics so much as speak the words as poetry.  One could tell that more often than not, he must write his lyrics long before he hears the music.  Lou Reed was a poet.  Pure and simple.

"He tried to weigh his soul to see if it was a poet's soul." --James Joyce

 Just check out this imagery:

Meaning.  Deep meaning and scathing statements on our world. 

Lou with the protesters of Occupy Wall Street in 2011.

He was multi-fathoms deeper than anyone else I was listening to, except perhaps for U2.  There's another band connection.  Lou joined U2 in several Amnesty International shows and did "Satellite of Love" together with them on the ZooTV tour.  Later in life there would be connections to Nine Inch Nails and even William Gibson (who titled his book All Tomorrow's Parties after a Velvet Underground song.)  I began to see that most everyone I listened to, everyone of quality anyway, was influenced in some way by Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground.

Wait, wait, wait...

It's junior year in college and Magic and Loss came around.  If I thought Lou was heavy before, this topped it all.  Fittingly enough, the whole record is about him grieving through the loss of two friends.  Another masterpiece.  He didn't just refuse to fear the reaper on this record.  He kicked, spat, clawed, and eventually shook hands with him.  

"But you can't be Shakespeare and you can't be Joyce
so what is left instead

You're stuck with yourself and a rage that can hurt you
you have to start at the beginning again."

Tell me about it.  No, you weren't either of your favorite poets.  But I'd say you did pretty damn well.

It's a post-Lou world and I'm just trying to live in it.  I've conglomerated the thoughts of numerous other people who are holding their own digital wakes online.  They go something like this...

Lou's not resting.  He's walking.  And you know where.

St. Peter's at the gates, saying "I'm waiting for the man."

None of the music I listen to, none of it that really matters, would even exist without Lou Reed.  No Duran Duran, no U2, no Clash, and the list just goes on.

I wish I could have seen him live on stage.  I wish I could have even just said "thanks."  But now I can't.  So I do this.
And I say "thanks" to John for bringing New York over in that spring of 1989.

As for Lou's worries, there.  It's immortal.

"There's a funeral tomorrow at St. Patrick's.  The bells will ring for you."

Simply one of the greatest musicians in history.  There will never be another.
Damn, I'm sad.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

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