I admittedly never was the biggest Lou Reed/Velvet Underground-fan. I was always a lover of great vocals and pop melodies, so the clunky and raw works of Reed always seemed too dissonant for me. I would change my opinion as soon as songs like “Walk on the Wild Side” and “Perfect Day” started to make sense to me, when I got acquainted with Television and their god-awful vocals that suddenly felt pure and real and which opened up a whole rooster of amazing bands.
But even without being a huge fan and being constantly in contact with his music, Lou Reed was one of those people you couldn’t escape. He was an integral part to the New York punk scene, he was art, poetry and music. He was arrogant and aloof and throughout his life released some music that was simply horrendous but he kept on releasing, he worked on things he liked, things he found intriguing and interesting and he made a giant impact on the alternative music scene which made a lot of the bands that I adore what they are now. He was this weird entity of a whole musical generation, just like Morrissey for the 80s. Surely, someone like him couldn’t die.
And at some point – during a rather bleak time in my life – I stumbled over “Songs for Drella”, a concept album by Reed and John Cale about the life of Andy Warhol that was the most beautiful blend of art and pop music I’ve ever seen and probably ever will see (or rather hear). Songs like “Forever Changed” and “Smalltown” were the kind of songs that echoed through my brain and felt as if I had been looking for them since I became a teenager. They were the kind of songs I was thankful to finally hear.
As entertainment news editor, I read about deaths of celebrities nearly every day. Sometimes it’s people whose names I’ve never heard before, sometimes it’s people that I suddenly remember from some random song or movie. With Lou Reed, it’s one of those news that somehow shake you, that rumble in your guts and punch you in the face. How often do we joke about the old punks and their coke-infested organs that must survive nuclear wars? But then one of them dies with 71 years and it seems ridiculous that nowadays one can die so young. And then you remember the loved ones you lost who were the same age or even younger and you realize that no one is safe, not even the icons that we put onto pedestals and hung up on our walls.
It just sucks. It really does.