Posted by: nativeiowan | October 30, 2013

another icon phlashes in the pan

I  really, really dig Lou Reed… “…hey babe, take a walk on the wild side…” is still my favourite pickup line. A line grandson Mendozza learned at age 3 in Taiwan… but thats another story and we still laugh when we get to “… and the black girls sing…”

Saw Lou on a New York Late at night type show a year or so ago. Really enjoyed listening to him then and still enjoy it all now…

Allow me to suggest… “I wanna be black…” how many of you remember… “I don’t wanna be a fucked up middle class student no more, I wanna be black…”

I  could hope Lou would a positive addition to heaven’s helluva band, but I don’t quite think Lou is dressed in white. No he’s in black, probably leather and singing about a “perfect day” where it’s velvet, underground…

this is what one obit had to say:

Remembering Lou Reed

Never once gave it away

LOU REED died on Saturday, aged 71. The obituaries have concentrated on his trailblazing achievements in the late 1960s, when his avant-garde rock group, Velvet Underground, demonstrated just how literary and transgressive popular music could be. Some of their songs were uncomfortable barrages of squalling noise, others featured a band member reading one of Mr Reed’s short stories over an instrumental backing. Several songs were gritty tales of the drug pushers, junkies, drifters and prostitutes who haunted New York’s mean streets during a meaner time for the city. Mr Reed did not try to charm or seduce his audience. In his black leather jacket and wraparound sunglasses, he made it seem like it was a mark of success, not failure, if his records didn’t sell. He defined what it meant to be cool. Decades of later punk and indie bands took note.

It was a coolness which didn’t apply to his songs. Many of his lyrics, throughout his career, either glowed with nostalgic warmth and romance or bristled with savage political satire. And his melodies could be just as sweet and catchy as any pop ballad. His persona, though, was always a world away from the flamboyant rock’n’roll norm. He would do things his way, often scowling as he did so. The fans would either like it or they wouldn’t.

A few years after the break-up of the Velvet Underground, David Bowie produced one of Mr Reed’s solo albums, “Transformer”, in 1972. It included his biggest hit single, “Walk On The Wild Side”, and it seemed, briefly, as if it would make him a bona fide pop star. But he chose a different path. The records that followed in the mid-1970s included “Berlin”, a bleak concept album about an abusive relationship, and “Metal Machine Music”, which consisted of four sides of punishing feedback whine. The prospect of Mr Reed making the jump from cult idol to superstar was effectively obliterated.

From then on he stuck with his stand-offishness, his scratchy guitar sound and his emotionless, muttering vocals. His image hardly altered from year to year (especially when compared to that of Mr Bowie). Record sales seemed to matter less to him than pursuing his intellectual curiosity. In addition to his regular dispatches from the city, he might deliver an album in tribute to Edgar Allen Poe, a book of photographs, a collaboration with Metallica, or—revealing the wry sense of humour which belies his fearsome, curmudgeonly reputation—an improvised appearance in the film “Blue In The Face” by Wayne Wang and Paul Auster.

He proved that a career in rock music didn’t have to mean a desperate striving after publicity and fashion. It didn’t mean competing with your peers. It could mean being an inquisitive, nearly professorial fixture of the New York experimental arts scene. It could mean being dignified. In some respects, the way he conducted himself in the decades since the disbanding of the Velvet Underground was just as radical as the still-astounding music he created beforehand.


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