Wild Young Minds: Take a walk on the wild side of heaven, Lou.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Take a walk on the wild side of heaven, Lou.

To be honest, I hadn't heard anything anymore from the legendary Lou Reed in the last five years. I had no idea how old he was, if he was still active in music and how his health was. Maybe that was why his death came as such a shock for me. Lou Reed, the singer of one of my favourite songs 'Take a walk on the wild side' (I recall having posted a video of that song on my blog a couple of years ago, because the lyrics appealed so much to me), Lou Reed, who once wrote the startling lyrics of 'Heroin' (When the heroin is in my blood/and that blood is in my head/then thank God that I'm as good as dead/then thank God that I'm not aware/And thank God that I just don't care) and Lou Reed, the leadsinger of the Velvet Underground, the student of Andy Warhol and the lover of Nico. 

Yes, this was Lou Reed and Lou Reed is now dead. He died of liver disease, tragically as this may be, it is the death of a rockstar, who shot his soul to the sky by drinking litres and litres of liquor. Half a year before he underwent a liver transplant, which made him feel 'stronger and bigger than ever' (for a 71 year-old, that's quite an accomplishment). But last Sunday his body was broken, his body finally gave up and Lou Reed died in his home in New York. Anything but a perfect day.

Lou Reed was born in Brooklyn as Lewis Allan Reed. Though he was Jewish, he claimed his religion to be rock 'n roll. Following this religion, he learned to play the guitar and joined several bands in his youth. Being a bisexual in the times before the openminded sixties, he received electroconsulvive therapy as a teenager, which was said to heal his bisexuality. Ridiculous of course, and quite traumatic.

He studied journalism, creative writing and film directing at university, after which he hosted a late-night radio program which played mostly rhythym and blues and free jazz. This was a huge inspiration source for him, many of his guitar-techniques were inspired by jazz saxophonists (God, what a masterous genre, jazz!) A couple of years later, Lou began working as an in-house songwriter for Pickwick Records. his is where he met John Cale, with whom he later formed 'The Velvet Underground' (Maureen Tucker and Sterling Morrison joined as well). The Velvet Underground had little commercial success but would later turn out to be a huge cult-hit, also thanks to the famous banana cover by Andy Warhol and the collaboration with Nico. 

In 1970, Lou left The Velvet Underground and began a solo career. In my opinion, his best songs include the ones from 'Transformer' and 'Rock 'n Roll Animal' (with the Bowie-style cover, Lou wearing heavy make-up and looking quite freaky). The 'Rolling Stone Magazine' critic Stephen Holden said the following about Reed's voice on 'Transformer': ''Reed's voice hasn't changed much since the early days. Outrageously unmusical, it combines the sass of Jagger and the mockery of early Dylan, but is lower-pitched than either'. What a compliment...

'I love you' and 'Heroin' show the softer side of Lou Reed, which I definitely prefer. 'Take a walk on the wild side' is still my absolute number one. The lyrics of this song are build up so perfectly fine. The funny thing is that each of the song's verses describe a tragic fixture of The Factory: Candy Darling, Holly Woodlawn, ''Little Joe'' Dallesandro, ''Sugar Plum Fairy'' Joe Campbell and Jackie Curtis. Lou didn't stop working until 2010, mostly doing covers but also recording new material.

His personal life was pretty interesting too (all his relationship with musicians, women, men, all of that) but I'm not going to turn this post in a history of Lou. His music is definitely worth listening to and if you're not in the position to listen to his fabulous records, just look him up on YouTube. The world has lost another legend (I think I'm going to use this as standard line with my posts now, happening way too often) but at least, he's reborn a bit through his music. At least, in my bedroom. Thanks, Lou.

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