Sunday, October 27, 2013

Linger on...

"linger on"

This is a sad day. Also a day for celebration of the life of Lou, for it isn't too many people about whom you could credibly say that they altered the course of and expanded -- irrevocably so -- their chosen idiom.

Of the songwriters of our lifetimes, there are none more influential, not even (dare I say) Bob Dylan. Brian Eno once said that only a few hundred people bought that first Velvet Underground record, but all of them started a band. You have to understand what the music universe was before that record and after it... it was a totally different place, with entirely different possibilities acceptable for subject matter in the world of song, after that one dropped in 1967 like a big ol' banana-shaped shoe of otherness. 
So many of the ideas and methods of character study we take for granted in modern songwriting were pioneered and essentially invented by Lou. Before him, no one dared write about drag queens, hard drugs... and certainly not drag queens on hard drugs. His was a living chronicle, from the inside, of the marginal, marvelous characters in and at the edge of the artistic demimonde of New York City before the Times (up and downtown) became so Square. Before the hookers and weirdos were replaced by the Hard Rock and Walgreen's. For me, an essential truth is that Lou is one of those people who makes me proud to be gay, having written some of the best songs that will ever be written about what it feels like to be at the crossroads of gender without much more than words, a guitar and a human heart for an atlas.
What do you think I'd see
if I could walk away from me?

There isn't much more to say... like Frank Zappa said, writing about music is like dancing about architecture. The only thing of which I'm certain on this sad day is that we are so, so lucky as human beings to be alive and to have been alive during the advent of musicians and songsmithing artists such as Lou Reed, to bear witness to the redefining of the craft at their hands and by their totally unique insight and artistry almost without parallel or peer.
it's such a perfect day
glad I could spend it with you
It's hard to choose one thing -- one show or song that encapsulates everything about him... Lou went through many changes over many personae in a half-century career of rewriting the playbook, so I'm not gonna try. But please accept this tremendous (and complete) unreleased concert of the Lou Reed band, recorded from an FM broadcast from the Werchter Festival in Belgium on July 8, 1984 and featuring legendary guitarist, the late Robert Quine. It's an excellent representation of Lou's early-'80s trilogy which includes The Blue Mask, Legendary Hearts and New Sensations.
Lou Reed 
Werchter Festival
Werchter, Belgium

01 Sweet Jane 
02 Waiting For The Man 
03 High In The City 
04 Down At The Arcade  
05 Legendary Love 
06 Fly Into The Sun 
07 Turn Out The Light 
08 My Red Joystick 
09 Average Guy
10 Walk On The Wild Side 
11 Satellite Of Love

01 New Sensations 
02 Sunday Morning 
03 Underneath The Bottle 
04 Betrayed
05 Doin' The Things That We Want To/Waves of Fear 
06 I Love You Suzanne  
07 White Light/White Heat 
08 Some Kinda Love 
09 Rock 'n' Roll 
10 Kill Your Sons

Total time: 1:32:48

Lou Reed – vocals, guitar
Robert Quine – lead guitar
Fernando Saunders – bass
Fred Maher – drums
Peter Wood – keyboards

off-air FM master tape of the complete broadcast
Lou got kind of a bad reputation for mistreating people (especially critics) during his life; you need only listen to the (completely hilarious) raps between songs on the Take No Prisoners live LP from 1978 to get just how direct he could be in his assessments. But they can say whatever they want about Lou and it matters not... let 'em talk, because while he lived he reinvented & recalibrated one of the central art forms on this planet and they didn't. 

Thank you so much Lewis Allan Reed. I won't forget you, and I suspect I'm not the only one.