But, then, my sister told me that when she mentioned Lou Reed's death during a Halloween party she attended Sunday night, no one there knew who he was. What other depressing news can I pile on here? (Surely, everyone knows who Joe Strummer was, right?)
Oh, let's just focus on the positive: Lou Reed left his stamp on music history with his amazing songs. I admit that I own copies of only a few of them right now, but I grew up listening to "Walk on the Wild Side," which is still a staple on classic radio stations. I fell in love with "Sweet Jane" when I first heard the Cowboy Junkies sing it in Pulp Fiction. And, Duran Duran actually introduced me to the beautiful "Perfect Day" when they included it on their album of cover songs Thank You.
While I never followed Lou Reed's career, he kept popping up in my life because all of my favorite musicians and artists have been inspired by or were even friends with him. I heard his instantly recognizable voice singing on random soundtracks of good movies and on my favorite radio stations, and his name would drop in interviews with other celebrities I admired. So, whenever I saw Lou Reed himself anywhere, in magazines or on TV, I paid attention.
The range and creativity of his work and weight of his influence are undeniable, shining well beyond the music community to writers, artists, and others. Whether you know who he is or not, Lou Reed exuded cool! Can't you tell just from this photo?
So, let's cheer up, remembering this one-of-a-kind songwriter, musician, and rock star who graced us with his unique presence and talent for the last 50 years, first in his pioneering alternative rock band the Velvet Underground and later on his own. Penning songs about sexuality, drug use, and other unspoken topics that countered the peace-and-harmony culture of the '60s, Lou Reed spent his career experimenting to create the music he wanted, and that's his legacy. It's fitting that his one and only Top 40 hit is a story about transvestite prostitutes walking the streets of New York. Everyone who loves this song has it memorized, so turn it up, sing along, and enjoy:
Feel better? Now, go to iTunes, or wherever you buy your music, and explore Lou Reed's entire catalog. It's a worthy investment.
You will be missed, Lou Reed. Thanks for the voice and music.
Copyright credits: Photo © unknown; "Walk on the Wild Side" © Lou Reed