I am tired
I am weary
I could sleep for a thousand years. – “Venus in Furs”

There has always been a part of me that has wanted to go back to New York in the 60s and the 70s.  Maybe for the music, the culture, the politics, and even the poetry.  This could have started from reading too much Beat Literature at a young age and wanting to be the next  Patti Smith, though I like to think it was inspired by the first time I listened to the album White Light/White Heat.  Tracks like “Here She Comes Now” and “White Light/White Heat” were like nothing I had ever heard before.  Regardless of how cliche that may sound, it is absolutely true.

Lou Reed

Photo by Jean Baptiste Mondino

I never hoped for the day I would have to look back on how long and how influential Lou Reed has been in my life, but this past week I’ve started the heavy process.

Transformer was one of the first albums given to me when I got my record player (along with Reed’s Growing Up In Public I had gotten from my dad).  Each night I carefully brush the vinyl sides and set the needle to start “Viscious” or “Make Up,” I know I’m in a moment-that-transcends time.  A moment shared by countless others since 1972 when the album was released.  Transformer also holds one of the quintessential solo Reed tracks, “Walk On The Wild Side.”
Loaded was, has been, and always will be one of my top five favorite albums of all time.  Despite whatever fighting and problems the Velvet Underground had during the recording, the album was graced with timeless classics like “Sweet Jane,” “Rock & Roll,” and my all time favorite “Oh! Sweet Nuthin.”
And of course, “Pale Blue Eyes”  which almost always brings me to tears, was covered by an array of artists: Patti Smith, R.E.M., The Kills, G. Love, and Metric, introducing his work to crowds and listeners that may have never given him a second thought.
The music of Lou Reed, with Velvet Underground and solo, built a foundation for me.  His music showed the beauty of keeping yourself vulnerable, and raw.  His albums have helped me become comfortable with experimentation in music and art.  The breadth of his work taught me how to value musicians that push for diversity in their collective work.  His voice is one of the few that fit my late night drives up and down Pacific Coast Hwy, while I dream of over-the-top light shows, experimental music, and eccentrically glamorous bodies twisting and writhing in a silver factory.
Reed said it best when he discussed his collection of work with Rolling Stone Magazine in the 80s, “They’re all in chronological order.  You take the whole thing, stack it and listen to it in order, there’s my Great American Novel.”
This is one novel I’ll reread again, and again.

 

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