I almost didn’t write a Lou Reed post today. His death has led to such a enormous flurry of tweets, Facebook posts, and blogs that I just didn’t believe I had anything to add. Seemingly every musician, journalist, and writer has a story to tell about Lou and his impact on their lives. Those are stories that need to be heard instead of some Midwestern loudmouth fanboy. Seriously, how can I compete with the likes of Neil Gaiman, Caryn Rose, and Jim DeRogatis?
Everybody has their own story, though, and a Facebook message from my good buddy David Butler made me rethink my position. In the documentary, Color Me Obsessed, my five second cameo compares the influence of the Replacements to the Velvet Underground. In my view, the Replacements were the more modern version of Brian Eno’s claim that while only 30,000 people bought the first Velvet Underground album, “everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies formed a band”.
Butler was one of those guys that fit both theories, and it was the Replacements and Lou Reed that caused him to reach out to Jack Pockrandt to start a band. “Tommy & I started a band based upon that ideal that anyone could do this. Just do it. The first song we ever played in a dingy basement in Vermillion, SD was ‘Walk On the Wild Side’.” This collaboration led to the bands Mickey Finn and Naked Ted.
All around the world, there are similar stories. What would the rock world have been like without Lou Reed? There would have been no glam. No Bowie. No Mott. No punk. No R.E.M. No Sonic Youth. The concept of utilizing dissonance in pop music would have never happened.
My Lou Reed story has little to add to the story. I never interviewed him (thank God), nor did I even see him in concert. I didn’t even discover him until 1978 or so, when I picked up a strange compilation album on Arista that combined Velvet Underground and solo Lou tunes. I slowly obtained the back catalog while continuing to purchase any and all new releases. Yes, that even means Metal Machine Music and that Metallica album that laughingly angered two fanbases a couple of years ago.
RIP Lou. And give your journalist antagonist Lester Bangs a good swift kick in the ass when you end up wherever we go from here.