I wasn’t always a fan of Lou Reed. Having not grown up with The Velvet Underground or any of Lou’s music disseminated into my formative musical tastes, I genuinely had no idea who he was until my sophomore year of high school. I looked up Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 100 Artists lists and saw a group of mod-looking folks, but I didn’t pay it much time and made only a mental note to check them out.
Shortly after a good friend of mine burned me some Velvet Underground albums, as well as some Lou Reed solo records. I couldn’t get into it. It wasn’t that I instantly disliked it – I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the music. No matter how hard I tried to get a taste for it, much of it was too foreign for me and I dismissed it for some time. In my mind, Lou Reed’s music was in the same realm as Zappa’s – either you’re turned on to it or you aren’t.
My musical guilt caught up to me and a few years later I thought that my matured self would give Lou another shot. Something fantastical and grand must have happened in the time span for I found myself appreciating the music much more than I had, especially that of Lou’s solo work. I can safely say that for the past 4 years I have had a Lou Reed tune stuck in my head that agitates my subconscious every few days. I love it.
I was saddened and shocked to learn of Lou’s passing this morning. I woke up to a text message from one of my best friends and musical authorities in my life alerting me of the sad news, and I had no idea how to respond other than, “Shit, seriously?” Considering his health and the cancellation of upcoming tour dates I admit I’m not taken off guard completely, though it’s still a very surreal thought nonetheless.
I’m by no means any authority on Lou Reed or The Velvet Underground, but it’s safe to say that Reed was undeniably one of the largest influences on popular music to date. Reed, along with a handful of others, paved the way for avant-garde musicians and artists to achieve success and recognition in the American market. Lou’s style of musicianship and self-branding was unprecedented – from the Warhol years to 2013 he remained sublimely idiosyncratic in every vein of his artistry and persona.
Certainly someone who knows his body of work better and appreciates him more than myself can write a better and more apt obituary on Mr. Reed. However, as a fan of the music he has created and thereby influenced directly and indirectly, I could not pass up an opportunity to write of my esteem for Lou Reed and the unfortunate passing of a musical legend and icon.
Born and raised on classic rock and oldies, Jake Tully consumed music voraciously growing up in Central California. He has his wonderful grandparents to thank for his love of music, as well as the amazing luck to have seen hundreds of concerts in his lifetime. He considers himself an eclectic consumer of all media, and further reading can be found at his blog.