When Lou Reed died in 2013 I felt genuine relief. I hoped I would never have to hear the song “Walk on the Wildside” again. Not only is it a terrible song musically, but the lyrics are racist. I have talked to other people who agree with me that each time the part come on about the Colored Girls Singing Do-do-do, do-do, do-do-do or rather it’s “Go” Do-do-do, do-do, do-do-do we all felt really uncomfortable and wished it would go away. Many different popular Bands used a groups of black women as background vocals such as Steely Dan The issue was not their race, but they ability to harmonize. Race should have nothing to do with it. Then there is the gender changing parts of the song which reminded of the music video that used to be played on MTV in which a very large woman (who turns out to be a man) is shaving. She shaves her legs and now he is a she. I can’t even find this music video on You Tube, but it was by a group called The Power Station which was a spinoff of Duran Duran. The song Some Like it Hot featured Caroline Cossey. At the time there were whispers of “Oh, this is really a man,” but it was vague. I was like I want this video to go away. “Some Like it Hot” was another terrible song paired with a terrible video. I could not look the song up in 1985 as it was pre internet. I was not shocked or changed by the song. My dislike had nothing to do with changing genders but both the video and the song meting out punishment to the aesthetic value of music. The song is very in your face. The media decided that we all needed to hear it again and again as some kind of brainwashing experiment for changing societal values and norms. There is no way this song is being played for its musical value, but only for its shock value, which was not shocking at all to me, but boring. There is a Devo Song called “Social Fools” which sums up my attitude. Updated: I have found the Video on YouTube Here
However, I have since learned there is a lot more to Lou Reed then just one repulsive song. “I’m Waiting for the Man” is absolute a fantastic. At first the song seems to be going nowhere with just a pounding beat, but when Lou Reed starts to singing or speaking you can hear the emotional quality of his voice. Lou Reed also reminds me of Jim Carroll’s music. The lyrics could be sung or spoken or a combination of the two. I recall hearing the song in the 80’s “Vicious” also by Lou Reed. The song is from 1973 but has an early punk vibe which was pre Sid Vicious. The song “Vicious” was said to be inspired by Andy Warhol’s suggestion. I did not hear it until the 80’s on various underground and New Wave Radio stations.
Nico and the Velvet Underground are connected to Lou Reed. Nico was an interesting person. In spite of the fact she could not sing well, and none of her songs were hits, she is respected for what she accomplished in her life. Nico was the girlfriend of Door’s singer Jim Morrison at one point. I read they were living together. She would sing in a nightclubs with her commanding presences. I feel more kindly towards Nico then to Lou Reed because her songs were not played at me over and over the way “Walk On The Wild Side” was forced on me for many years by the media. When I think of Nico singing in a nightclub, I think of the Movie Liquid Sky in which one of the supporting characters Adrian sings a song called “My Rhythm Box“. I imagine Nico singing or chanting songs like this in a dark and smokey nightclub to emotionless patrons. The audience is too cool to react and watches politely and mutely. Nico is herself also too cool to show emotions. Take me to that nightclub! I want to go there!
Updated: I listened to a biography of Lou Reed on Audible. Lou Reed: A Life by Anthony DeCurtis. The book seem to have been written by a superfan who adores everything Lou Reed does. What I found most interesting was Lou Reed’s personal life and his wives and girlfriends. What I did not like was 50 percent of the book is an in depth analysis of his music. Other then hits which (I mentioned above) another one is called Sweet Jane. Sweet Jane is an average rock song, but not special. The descriptions of the rest of the body of work created by Lou Reed were extremely off putting. Just based on the lyrics alone I would never listen to any of this music. Once I hear something disgusting I can’t unhear it. Lou Reed’s whole act seems to be to to shock people with gross lyrics. David Bowie loved his lyrics. David Bowie also wrote some really bad lyrics that are quite disturbing, but not as horrible as Lou Reed’s Lyrics. I can’t even begin to get into a discussion of what is wrong with the lyrics or even the mention topics because it would violate my personal rules of be tasteful in my blog. Lou Reed according to the book can’t sing on beat and his lyrics do not even fit the music. He may have been better off being a poet and never putting any of this crap to music. And from what I heard about the music it is also terrible. He needed to stop after his hits and just retire gracefully. The central theme of this book is the author’s conviction that Reed wrote all of these songs just to spite his father who he hated. Jim Morrison also hated his father and his family. Now that I have gotten the end of this Lou Reed book I have second shorter book to listen to. Lou Reed also did a disservice to the queer community by trying to erase his four year live in relationship with Rachel Humphreys. How many people would live with someone of the same sex for four years just to spite their father? There is something more going on that clearly was not touched on in this book. I hope further study will shed some light on the situation. Lou Reed also beat his first wife, begged her to come back and when she did he dumped her. In another bizarre story in the book he may have even kicked Rachel in the balls until and she bled out her mouth He wanted a doctor to treat her and he called for one. Lou Reed is clearly not a person who is nice to or has respect for women; although his marriage to Laurie Anderson was reported to be just fine. Lou Reed was older by then and his illness had taken its toll. All of the glowing statements made by various celebrities after he died rang a bit hollow. Did they really know he acted like this? Beating women is never acceptable. I will not give Lou Reed a pass just because he’s Lou Reed.
Lou Reed lied about everything
In the 70’s Lou Reed lied about everything when he talked to reporters. A sample interview with Lou Reed was given in the book. Lou Reed claims Andy Warhol told him to lie to reporters. Andy Warhol said, you don’t have to tell them the truth, just say whatever you want. Lou Reed worked from the notion that whatever the reporters asked him he would just say yes or no without even thinking about it. Later when reporters wanted to interview him they used statements from past interviews. It bothered Reed to be confronted by his past lies so he decided to skip and avoid all interviews. Furthermore his music was extremely unpopular. Although he continued to make his awful music poor sales got him dumped by major record labels. The last work he did was a collaboration with Metallica called Lulu which is reported to sound like Metallica demos over spoken word with repellant and disgusting lyrics. The unpopularity of his music (which most people did not even know he was still making) was likely a cause for him wanting to avoid interviews that would label him as has been. The last song he did with any merit was called Vicious from his Transformer Album. I did hear the song in the 80’s on college radio. I thought it was a new wave song. It did have a modern feeling, but the song came out in 1973. His next album was Berlin which was about the struggles with his first wife. It was also released in 1973 because Lou Reed was doing a lot of drugs and like David Bowie he was working very quickly. Lou Reed claimed all of his fans deserted him after he released Metal Machine Music in 1975. The album reminded me of when David Bowie gave up on making albums and decided to create Tin Machine so he could be part of the band and not the main person. Bowie simply gave up making popular music and began to do music that he liked but no one else did. In this way Bowie and Reed are similar. They both created their best music in the 70’s.