Good Music We Can Know

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


There is nothing I could say which would be adequate.  My god, it feels like such a loss.  I can't even listen to the records yet.  When I do, it will be the first time I hear them sung in the voice of a man who is gone.  I'm not totally ready for that.

For a lot of smart, alienated, angry young people, Lou Reed's art and art of persona offered invaluable coping mechanisms, apparatus by which to survive the necessity of having to expose our devastating sensitivity to an utterly uncaring, monstrously traumatic world.  His music sliced and tore through the pain of having to be alive with visceral, clarifying sounds and eviscerating lyrics, offering a sense of purpose and presenting a persona from which we could borrow in order to steel ourselves, transforming those weaknesses into an armory of detachment, a way to survive and thrive without dumbing ourselves down (even if it did make us assholes sometimes, or more than sometimes).  A talisman (real or imagined) of our own potential for subversive power, and a body of incredible work which could be endlessly examined and appreciated not only for its towering genius and impeccable construction of the cool, but for its infinite flaws-- naked, human imperfections.  

I'm a long way from all that now, I think.  I am who I am mostly on my own, having transformed the various syntheses of youth into self.  But in all honesty I have no idea how I would have gotten there or who I'd be without Lou Reed.  I know he doesn't need another obituary, and certainly not one from me.  But I can't be the only one who feels like an actual part of my self died on Sunday morning, and I hope you'll forgive the regrettable drama of my maudlin selfishness if I eulogize him on that personal basis.

I never stopped listening to the music, and I never will; his being gone doesn't and couldn't change that.  The music is there forever, a living document that has no need for a tombstone.  But I was one of many who counted him-- the man and myth, constructed to be conflated-- as a formative mentor, a spirit guide, a weird father, and now he is gone.  I know I'm not the only one feeling this way, this loss.  God damn it, the absence is palpable.

Uncle Lou, 
I love you and 
I could never thank you enough
How we ever gonna get through this awful old world without you?


Guido A. said...

You certainly are not the only one. This fucked up world called for someone like him. Cheers,

Anonymous said...

So very well said friend. His music profoundly shaped us, and remains such a constant in our lives. I Really miss him, it's crazy! What a hero and God damn important man!


Anonymous said...

Well said brother....truly the End of an Era...
'ya know those were different times'
I can say my life was saved by rock and roll...
another real fuckin hero gone but never forgotten,
a real Hero of the Vibration Of Life!
Fly Free brother Lou!!

...October Country

Anonymous said...

this hit home man

hayseed said...

this is better written than the Journalists' obits. this is written by one of us who knew the work, felt what it meant.

(I am bored of the unground axes and contextless quotes.)

Flash Strap said...

Thanks Hayseed. I didn't write this piece as a corrective, but after two tiresome weeks of press-package obits, weirdly chosen insults, and variations on "I'm surprised he didn't flame out years ago bla bla bla" I'm glad to hear your comment. I'd never want to add to the junknoise that swirls around these types of events, I really hope I haven't, and you made me feel a little better about it.

Anonymous said...

The "junknoise", eh? Sorta like Metal Machine Music?? Seriously, good words chosen here. My own father, four years older than Lou, died just days later. However, he had been lost to me for years. Now his death and Reed's will be connected by this association in my own mind, although their lives could not have been more different.

singingdetective said...

Very well put! Like I heard someone else stating somewhere: "When I'm in doubt of doing one thing or another, I'll ask myself: What would Lou do?."
His music is in my genes, and in the genes of every song I made myself. Thanks for everything Lou!

Electricity comes from other planets!