Pitch Please: In remembrance of Reed
I wasn’t sure how to approach this subject because I have never written about an artist’s work posthumously. If you aren’t familiar with Lou Reed, you may be more or less familiar with some of his songs. “Perfect Day” was used during the overdose scene in “Trainspotting” and when Christina Ricci popped Molly for the first time in “Prozac Nation” (in which he makes a cameo). The Velvet Underground, the pioneering avant garde collective that Reed helped spearhead was mentioned in Disney’s underrated “Bandslam” film. I would add more, but I can’t think of any off the top of my head.
I’m not going to sit here and lie saying that Lou Reed was a major musical figurehead in my life, that I own all his albums, how I’m such a major fan of his, because I’m not. I can tell you how the music that I have heard by him had some kind of influence on my musical tastes.
I was introduced to Mr. Reed’s music during my sophomore year at Towson. I was taking a class and we were assigned a five page paper in which we had to choose a certain era of music and research five songs from it. At this time, in the words of Sam from “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” I was listening to the worst top forty. I decided to go with the glam/art rock period during the late 60s and early 70s because I wanted to be different since everyone was choosing to do The Beatles or Nirvana. Reed’s “Satellite of Love” was one of the songs that happened to pop up while I was doing my research and I remember being somewhat mesmerized by the song for a week or so after I turned the paper in and had it on repeat nonstop. Looking back on that paper, I’m kind of ashamed that I wrote about the song so robotically.
I didn’t revisit any of Reed’s music until about a year ago when I impulsively checked out Reed’s “Transformer” LP in full on YouTube for some reason and wound up enjoying that a lot, though I was never compelled to listen to any of his other works.
I spent last week after hearing the news of his death actively listening to his music and contemplating if the praise that all of his peers and music publications was really worth it. Would I have cared if the guy hadn’t died so suddenly? Most likely not. Am I just being a bandwagoner by re-blogging “Vicious” and “Sweet Jane” on Tumblr and writing this column to make me seem more cool and cultured? Not at all. I think it’s selfish for anyone to think that I can’t have any interest in an artist just because they are no longer on this earth. Like it somehow taints their memory or something. This may sound terrible, but if Reed hadn’t kicked the bucket last month, I wouldn’t have discovered how much I like his other stuff.
From what I could gather Reed was a polarizing figure who didn’t care if he got another charting album/single in his half decade of being a musician. I mean, he released an album full of questionable spoken word with Metallica and another that was just guitar feedback. However, Reed loved the music that he made and the following quote speaks volumes on what he sought to do during his career:
“The music gave you back your beat so you could dream … The people just have to die for the music. People are dying for everything else, so why not for music? Die for it. Isn’t it pretty? Wouldn’t you die for something pretty?”