All modesty aside, this man was 100% a very BIG DEAL. So while sadly, Lou Reed, a genuine New York original and unsurpassed musician/writer, is no longer with us, his continuing influence on popular music lives on – and will live on – long after the rest of us have finished taking our own personal walks on the wild side. Mr. Reed was 71.
The quintessential brooding art-rocker, Reed was a New York City urbanite, equally at home with Warhol and Eno – with Bowie and The Killers. He injected an entirely original mythos of darkness and storytelling into genres that previously had so often merely venerated glitz.
His work in the Velvet Underground alone can legitimately be said to have launched 10,000 bands (some of the most powerfully influenced include luminaries like: R.E.M., The Talking Heads, Joy Division, and the Strokes). And then, almost immediately after achieving true individual success, he released Metal Machine Music both to challenge and offend his listeners in what was arguably one of musical history’s greatest “F-You Rock n’ Roll moments.”
In one of his typical displays of unadulterated honesty, he even acknowledged in the album’s liner notes that “no one I know has listened to it all the way through, including myself,” but he also defended the recording as the next step after La Monte Young’s early minimalism. “There’s infinite ways of listening to it,” he told the critic Lester Bangs in 1976.
More recently, he even penned a highly literate review of Kanye West’s album “Yeezus” for the online publication, The Talkhouse, in which he directly (some might say bravely) referred back to “Metal Machine Music” as his personal way of explaining why great artists can never afford to hesitate when exploring their deepest motives.
October 27 will be hereby be remembered as a day of mourning across the universe of rock n’ roll. A musical giant has passed but his awe-inspiring legacies of creation, innovation and courage remain as relevant as ever.