Leigh MichaelWednesday,30 October 2013

The Snap:

Singer, songwriter and guitarist Lou Reed passed away on Sunday due to liver complications. The musician was 71.

Lou Reed led the Velvet Underground from 1964 to 1973, and then went on to have a critically acclaimed solo career. He was known for his iconically deadpan voice and raw sound. He once said, “The music is all. People should die for it. People are dying for everything else, so why not music?”

The Download:

Dear Lou Reed,

You weren’t normal. If the Rolling Stones were varsity football players and Bob Dylan was the resident bookworm, then you were sitting in the back of the room with your black leather boots up on the desk, a cigarette tucked behind one ear.

But that’s exactly how you liked it. You were bored with normal, and you weren’t content to fit into a cookie-cutter mold.  You showed us how a deadpan approach can create a song that is full of life and you tugged at our unwilling heartstrings with quietly spoken lyrics: “Caught between the twisted stars / the plotted lines the faulty map / that brought Columbus to New York / Betwixt between the East and West / he calls on her wearing a leather vest / the earth squeals and shudders to a halt.

You could have said your lyrics in a whisper. We would have listened. You transfixed us and you captivated us. We didn’t understand you; we knew that we never really would. But this made us love you all the more.

We loved you when you were rubbing shoulders with Nico and Andy Warhol and we watched you in awe when you were all by yourself. Sure, we doted on the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan and all of your musical classmates…. They were easier to love. The enveloped us with warm greetings and happy tidings. Sometimes, we weren’t sure whether you even noticed that you existed. And you seemed to take pleasure in bringing us down, rather than elevating us. You told us the raw truth about life — you took each crappy, infuriating and dissatisfying aspect and used them as building blocks for your musical kingdom. And then you hid yourself behind the castle walls.

But we still loved you. You changed us, and you’ve changed our children, and their children too. And while we don’t wish that we could have had the chance to profess our all-encompassing admiration for you — you wouldn’t have liked that, anyway — we just want you to know. You are the baddest, coolest, and boldest guy I ever had the pleasure of listening to.

Take Action!

Hat Tips:

NY Times, Rolling Stone, New Yorker, Image Credit: Flickr

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