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Lou Reed
1942-2013

Nordling here.

Lou Reed, one of the most beloved rock and roll artists of all time, from his young days with The Velvet Underground to his solo career, and hugely influential to pretty much every musical movement imaginable since the 1960s, has died at the age of 71.  He changed everything. Simple as that. Brian Eno famously said that while only a thousand people bought VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO when it was first released, that every one of those people started a band because of it.  

Under the attentions of Andy Warhol, it's hard to imagine the 1960s without imagining the Velvet Underground, but in truth they were not very popular to the world at large at the time.  It wasn't until Reed's solo album, TRANSFORMER, that he and his music truly burst upon the social consciousness.  And nothing was the same.

Punk rock? Lou Reed. Electronica? Lou Reed. Noise rock? Lou Reed's METAL MACHINE MUSIC did it before anyone.  And he did it all with a style that had thousands of imitators. There's a stark honesty to Lou Reed's lyrics that scars as well as enlightens, and his most beautiful prose can be both direct and oblique.  Only one other artist from his era of music, Bob Dylan, can it be said to have changed music so much.  Reed influenced everyone.

I came at Lou Reed's music when I was 20 years old.  I was a know-nothing kid, who loved R.E.M., and was desperate to find more music like them, so I came along The Velvet Underground and was profoundly changed.  From the build and the release of "Heroin," to the emotional catharsis of "I'm Set Free," to the classic collaborations with Nico, The Velvet Underground set me on a musical path that I'm happy to keep following, even in my forties.  

Reed's solo work also was a huge influence, and "What's Good" was a song that I played constantly in the years after my father's death to help me cope with that loss.  Everyone has their favorite Reed album, and MAGIC AND LOSS is mine; I'd hate to imagine my grief and loneliness at that time in my life without that album to keep me hopeful.

I realize that as far as film goes, Lou Reed wasn't a big part of that medium.  But he was in all the intangibles that matter - in the look of Reed's videos, the attitude of his music and his style, and his influence on people like Wes Anderson, Danny Boyle, Cameron Crowe, Todd Haynes, Jim Jarmusch, and many, many others, is immeasurable.  I leave with his own words:

I've been set free and I've been bound 

To the memories of yesterday's clouds 

I've been set free and I've been bound 

And now I'm set free 

I'm set free 

I'm set free to find a new illusion 

I've been blinded but 

Now I can see 

What in the world has happened to me 

The prince of stories who walk right by me 

And now I'm set free 

I'm set free 

I'm set free to find a new illusion 

I've been set free and I've been bound 

Let me tell you people 

What I found 

I saw my head laughing 

Rolling on the ground 

And now I'm set free 

I'm set free 

I'm set free to find a new illusion

 

Nordling, out.

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