Lou Reed 1942-2013

Just a quick post to mark the death of founding member of The Velvet Underground, inspiration for 10,000 bands – see Brian Eno quote – singer, songwriter and general rock legend, Lou Reed, who has died of an unspecified “liver-related ailment”.  He had a liver transplant in May this year after suffering liver failure.

At the Guardian’s Music Blog Michael Hann does a great job of listing “Five rock themes we owe to his work“.  And, separately, Sean O’Hagan collates “Six of his greatest songs“.  Including “I’m Waiting for the Man” (1967), as well as “Walk on the Wild Side” (1972), and Sweet Jane (1974).  Although, personally, I would have found room on the list for The Velvet Underground’s, “Venus in Furs” (1967).

Sean O’Hagan does include what is, perhaps, the most perfect song ever written, “Perfect Day” (1972).

As he says in the list

From 1972’s Transformer, another apparently romantic pop song with darkness lurking just underneath the surface. Produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson, it features a rolling piano riff and a rich string arrangement with Lou in full-on crooner mode. Then, he drawls the biblically vengeful line “You’re gonna reap just what you sow” and suddenly all is not what it seems. An ode to the narcotic bliss of heroin as well as the transportive power of love, it later featured on the soundtrack of Trainspotting, where it fitted, and on a trailer for Downtown Abbey, where it didn’t. Arguably the most misunderstood ballad in pop history and a beautiful song that is pitched just the right side of sentimental. One of the few Lou Reed songs Sinatra could have covered.

It even withstood being re-recorded for charity in 1997… But it’s probably less misunderstood if heard on the album, Transformer.

“I am tired, I am weary, I could sleep for a thousand years.”

R.I.P. Lou Reed.

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  • One of the great songwriters of the past 50 years or so.

  • Charles_Gould

    Thanks Pete. A sad day, a great song writer.

  • Mister Joe[10.46] In the middle of the harsh winter of 1978/79, I got a record out of the waterside library then in Spencer Rd with Andy Warhol prints on the cover, and listened to it dozens of times over that winter. Waiting for the Man, Pale Blue Eyes, Heroin and All Tomorrow’s Parties. Classics.