“If I could be anything
in the world that flew
I would be a bat and come
swooping after you.”
There are a few bands and singers who I frequently write about who cemented their mark in music before I was born. They are my heroes and reasons as to why I love music; why I cannot live without music. You never really seem to think of life without them no longer here, you just wonder how it would have been if you never found or them, or if they never found you. It is easy to look up to those who are no longer with us because we never have to face losing them. Today is a sad day for music, and to think of anything to say about Lou Reed that hasn’t already been said is causing a part of my brain to just turn to mush.
I’ll try anyway.
My blog, Gypsy Death And You is taken from Run Run Run by the Velvet Underground and the header photo is of the band. There was no other band I wanted to have named my blog after, it just wouldn’t be right. Lou Reed was more than just a singer; he was a poet who painted the world in a way that, as soon as you first heard his music- that is how you saw the world. Andy’s Chest opened me up to a world that was better than anything I’d ever known. Pale Blue Eyes made me feel a sense of heartache I’d never felt before. It even got me through some form of a breakup. Although, I don’t think there was anything worth breaking at that point. The song became something I couldn’t listen to for a while, but then it became all I could ever listen to.
Last year I found a copy of Transformer for £2 on vinyl. I felt this heightening pounding in my chest; the kind of feeling you get as you are about to see your favourite band on stage for the first or fifteenth time- the feeling is still there. I was so excited to FINALLY have this record in my hands. I went home, after work, and played it for hours. I got ready for work listening to it, I fell asleep listening to it. Transformer is easily one of the greatest records of all time.
Lou Reed’s guided the misfits and outcasts into a world that was dark; but it was pure and passionately bold. It was a world I’ll never want to leave. He may no longer be with us, but the music is ALWAYS going to be there. His legacy is more memorable than those of the false generation. The generation made up of manufactured pop-stars who have the personality of a dead cat. Lou Reed conveyed ugly feelings in a way that made you feel alright with carrying them about. Candy Says is one of the most harrowing yet gorgeous songs ever written. Heroin may be about drug use, but it is written in such a romantic way. You shut your eyes, and you are heading right to the kingdom with Lou.
Listening to Lou Reed’s music gives you a sense of feeling untouchable. Much like when I listen to New York Dolls, Patti, Ramones; he has this ability to make you feel protected and as if you can take on the world even if the world is taking on you. His music embodies everything I love about music. Writing about him in past tense is not only uncomfortable, but it is heartbreaking. One thing I’ve seen is the amount of musicians I follow on Twitter who have paid tribute to him; he influenced so many people from all over. It doesn’t matter that most will just say “Oh Perfect Day is my favourite Lou Reed song.” At least they’ve heard of him. Besides, Perfect Day is a gorgeous love song.
Last Christmas my uncle and I were discussing how important Lou’s music is. And just this Friday passed, my manager and I (yeah I’ve got a job now!) were talking about Lou Reed. She saw him back in the 70s, and to hear these stories about him was just brilliant. All we have are memories now. He’s someone you remember where you were when you first heard him. He made wearing all black seem appealing; it isn’t a phase just for me, I don’t feel comfortable wearing colour. He had this way of remaining a constant mystery, but when you played his music it felt like you were hanging out with your best friend. Music is the only reliable friend you may ever have.
His vocals weren’t flamboyant or over the top; he sang in a way that made him relatable. He made it easy for you to sing like him in the shower. And when his vocals go real low when he sings, “Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side” is easy to do, and when you sing it- you feel empowered. The word “cool” is thrown around all the time, and I guess it is a redundant word to use, but Lou Reed was cool. He was everything those who listened to him wanted to be. He had this way of making you feel like you were sat on a stoop in New York watching the world go by as you listened to his music, you felt as if he was sat next to you telling these crazy stories that are in his music.
Everything about Lou Reed was iconic, it always will be. There are so many things I would love to write, but the words in my head aren’t reaching my fingers- I can’t type them out. I’ve played his music and gazed out the window on long tube/train journeys and felt like I was somewhere other than where I was or where I was headed. I felt like I was going somewhere where nobody else knew. I think anyone who REALLY listens to Lou’s music gets that feeling straight away. It’s a rare feeling, but we all know just how rare Lou was. Sure he may have been difficult in interviews, but it was probably because most music journalists are dull and ask the same shit over and over. His music defined a generation and is still inspiring so many. In the light and in the dark, his music offered peace and self-discovery. The ability to turn my back on conventional and traditional means, the strength came from his music. With love and heartache, I have written this. With respect and gratitude, I’ve written this; for Lou.
All that’s left to be said is; bless your soul Lou and thank you for the music. In life, love and desperation- you were always there. Thank you x.