R.I.P. Lou Reed

Posted: October 28, 2013 by nickd0913 in Uncategorized

 

Lou Reed

 

You probably already know that Lou Reed died yesterday.  You may or may not care that Lou Reed died yesterday.  You may or may not care about Lou Reed’s music.  I am not going to bullshit you.  I am by far no Lou Reed or Velvet Underground expert and I will not even be able to come close to doing the job Chuck Klosterman did on http://www.grantland.com when writing about Lou Reed but I felt like I should write about him today since he did have an influence on me musically.

For years Lou Reed was the guy who sang “Walk on the Wildside”.  That was all I knew about him.  I thought he was a one hit wonder and I had never heard of the Velvet Underground.  I did not particularly like this song but it was played a fair amount on Q95 so I was aware of it.  It was later infamously sampled by Marky Mark in the horrible song “Wildside”.  That was all I knew about Lou Reed and in my small musical world that was all I needed to know about him.  That changed sometime in 1989.

My dad brought home a copy of Lou Reed’s new album “New York”.  He told me a little bit about Lou Reed which I promptly ignored and then he played the cut “Dirty Blvd.” for me.  Within about 30 seconds I had a new outlook on Lou.  This song was so good I could not believe it.  I must have listened to it 100 times.  It was incredible.  It was just great guitar chords, big drums and Lou doing his version of singing.  He was telling quite a story about his view of New York City and I loved everything about it.  I had to let someone else know about this song and this album so I immediately called my musical protege, Josh Garland, over to the house to hear this masterpiece.  When I played the album for him he shared the same feelings I did about it.  For years that album became a sort of secret between us that we really could not talk to other people about and even now I only talk about this album with about 5 people.  If you re looking for a good introduction to Lou Reed this is a great album to start with.  

 

Fast forward a couple of years and I had landed tickets to the most exclusive concert in Indianapolis.  John Mellencamp was playing a benefit for the family of John Cascella who was his keyboard player and had recently died.  Not only was he playing the benefit but he was playing at the Murat Theater which only holds about 2500 people and he had promised to play a bunch of cover songs.   To be honest I do not remember one song he played except “Sweet Jane” by the Velvet Underground.  Once again I could not believe how good the song was.  Until that night I had never heard the song and had barely heard of The Velvet Underground but the song was so great to me that I rushed out the next day pulled the ultimate chucksucking  move and bought The Velvet Underground’s Greatest Hits just for that song.   The chords to that song are simple and perfect and the line

“Standing on the corner,
Suitcase in my hand
Jack is in his corset, and Jane is her vest,
And me I’m in a rock’n’roll band”

is one of the best opening lines in any rock song ever.  This song is really the perfect rock song.  I have loved it for the past 20 years and the fact that this song was an influence on one of my favorite artists makes it even better to me and makes me respect Lou Reed.

 

 

Finally in 2008 I was lucky enough to go see The Black Crowes record an album in the recording studio at Levon Helm’s house.  There were only 150 people in attendance and it was one of the greatest things I have ever done in my life.  The band was playing all new songs that nobody had ever heard but at the end of the night they played one cover song as an encore.  Right before they launched into the song Chris Robinson said  “were going to play a song from the Velvet Underground”.  I was sure it would be “Sweet Jane” but I was wrong.  It was the”Oh! Sweet Nuthin”.   Once again another song I had never heard and once again I was floored by what I was hearing and once again a band I love had been influenced by Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground.   This song has become one of my favorite songs by The Velvet Underground and by The Black Crowes.  Every time I see them I hope they play this song and when they do the concert is always a little more special for me.  Check out the Crowes playing “Oh! Sweet Nuthin”.  By the way this was filmed at Levon’s crib with me in the crowd.  I was sitting right beneath the camera.

 

 

As I said earlier I am not a huge Lou Reed/Velvet Underground fan but I respect what he did and the fact he was able to influence my dad and two of my all time favorite bands which in turn influenced my taste in music makes his passing a little bit sad.  R.I.P. Lou.

 

 

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