Nothing strikes at our own sense of mortality quite like the passing of the heroes of our youth. When Lou Reed died this weekend, there were a lot of us who felt that twinge alongside the sadness of the news.
Reed was always the consummate New York City street-punk poet, but he could speak even to a kid from sticks of Spudaho, and all the places in between. In fact, his was a voice a kid like me was desperate to hear, a voice telling us: Be who you are. Don't let the bastards stop you. Never give in.
I first heard "Walk on the Wild Side" when I was in high school and it blew my mind. I bought "Rock and Roll Animal" my freshman year of college and we wore the grooves out. (I still love the Steve Hunter/ intro to "Sweet Jane" on that album.) Over the years, I bought Lou's albums -- all of them, including the various off Velvet Underground albums that were uncovered over the years, because even when they were hard on the ears, they were always challenging and interesting. I think I bought every album even into the 1990s.
I finally got to see him in the 1990s, when he was on tour for "Magic and Loss." The best song from that album, "What's Good," seems like an appropriate way to say goodbye to Lou, who mourned the loss of other people better than anyone.
Goodbye, Lou. And thank you.
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