What a beautiful fall! Everything shimmering and golden and all that incredible soft light. Water surrounding us.
Lou and I have spent a lot of time here in the past few years, and even though we’re city people this is our spiritual home.
Last week I promised Lou to get him out of the hospital and come home to Springs. And we made it!
Lou was a tai chi master and spent his last days here being happy and dazzled by the beauty and power and softness of nature. He died on Sunday morning looking at the trees and doing the famous 21 form of tai chi with just his musician hands moving through the air.
Lou was a prince and a fighter and I know his songs of the pain and beauty in the world will fill many people with the incredible joy he felt for life. Long live the beauty that comes down and through and onto all of us.
— Laurie Anderson
his loving wife and eternal friend
It’s hard for me to sum up Lou Reed’s legacy. He’s such a major part of the music of the last 50 years. How do you have perspective on something that’s so close to you?
When I heard the first Velvet Underground record, I was 13 or 14, and it really struck me intensely. I was listening to anything I could get my hands on; I’d grown up with the Beatles and the Ramones, and I was getting into the Stones and garage rock. But when I heard “Venus in Furs,” I’d never heard anything like it. It was like hearing something I’d always wanted to hear. It felt so modern – I had to look at the back of the record to make sure it wasn’t a newer band. The sound was really dirty, much more primal than other bands from that era. The sweetness of the melodies and the songwriting, juxtaposed with this brutal sound, completely turned a light on for me.
After that, I don’t think I listened to any pop music for another 15 years. The Velvet Underground just eclipsed everything for a long time for me – it became the thing that I measured other music by. I think that’s common for a lot of people my age. Lou Reed and the Velvets were so formative for that whole era of bands that came out in the Eighties and Nineties, bands like the Pixies and Sonic Youth and Jesus and Mary Chain and Pavement and Yo La Tengo. I don’t know what you would call the genre that I’m in, but the Velvet Underground really define it. They’re the blueprint for that entire kind of music. The idea that you could play folk or country or guitar feedback or Brill Building pop, and you didn’t have to be authentic or quote-unquote real, was so liberating.
They were the coolest-looking band. I remember seeing a picture in a magazine where Lou had the wrap-around shades and the haircut and the boots. I think any kid who runs across something like that wishes they’d been around for it, you know? The really strange thing was, when my mother saw that I was listening to their record incessantly, she mentioned that she knew them – she had had some interaction with the Factory scene when she was growing up in the Village, and she claimed to have danced onstage at some of their early shows. I had no idea! But there wasn’t a lot of information about the Velvets back then. Later on, I was shocked to meet other people who had heard of them.
I’ve been playing Lou Reed’s songs since I first picked up the guitar. They can be so simple and perfect, and they can just cut you to the bone, but he never reduced it to sentimentality or cliché. He had that conversational style that’s really not easy to do. There’s just nothing cooler than that to me. I never get tired of playing his songs – it always works. I did one with Thom Yorke once [“I’m Set Free” SaveFrom.net]; that was perfect. On the Sea Change tour, we did “Who Loves the Sun.” Just this summer, I was doing an acoustic tour, and I played “Sunday Morning” SaveFrom.net in Paris. You can always play a Hank Williams song, you can always play a Beatles song, and you can always play a Lou Reed song.
I remember around ’95, we had just played a festival, and he was right after us, so I was coming offstage when he was going on. I wanted to introduce myself, but I wasn’t confident enough. So I never got to meet him. I’m really sad about that. The truth is, I haven’t even had time to digest the news that he’s gone. Man, what a loss.
Well, as they say, all good things must come to an end. We’ll miss you Banksy. Hopefully you’ll show up in another city soon. San Francisco? Oakland?
Meanwhile regarding the auction of “The banality of the banality of evil,” the latest big (10:08 am PST is $310,400. Bids will continue to be accepted at BiddingForGood until the auction ands at 5 pm PST today, Oct. 31, 2013.
On Banksy’s website is this text under the above photo: “An inflatable throw-up on the Long Island Expressway.”
Well, this is the last day of the show, and I’d like to say we’re going out on a high note. And, I guess in a way, we are. [Cue “New York, New York”] This is a sideways take on the ubiquitous spray-painted bubble lettering that actually floats. It’s an homage of sorts to the most prevalent form of graffiti in the city that invented it for the modern era. Or, it’s another Banksy piece that’s full of hot air.
So, what does the artist hope to have achieved with this so-called residency. Shame it didn’t get any press. He told me “If just one child has been inspired to pick up a can of paint and make some art–well that would be statistically disappointing considering how much work I put in.”
It’s been an interesting experiment, but is there a cohesive message behind it. I gave the artist two minutes to think of one.
Banksy asserts that outside is where art should live, amongst us. And rather than street art being a “fad,” maybe it’s the last thousand years of art history that are the blip. When art came inside in service of the church and institutions. But art’s rightful place is on the cave walls of our communities. Where it can act as a public service, provoke debate, voice concerns, forge identities.
The world we live in today is run, visually at least, by traffic signs, billboards, and planning committees. Is that it? Don’t we want to live in a world made of art, not just decorated by it?
Thanks for coming.
Kim Gordon, now in the duo Body/Head with Bill Nace, provided this Lou Reed tribute to Salon.
Lou was the first real antihero in rock. As a 14-year-old hearing the Velvet Underground for the first time, I acted out the lyrics to a song about heroin when I didn’t even know what it was. But I thought it was cool and I knew it was different than anything I’d heard before. Lou went about self-destruction and creation with the same exploratory innocence of a 14-year-old girl rebelling against a role she doesn’t want … won’t accept … to be a conventional boy, to be a conventional girl … With Lou’s death I feel a certain panic that the same innocence that comes with any urge to make something and get lost in it along the way has left with him, leaving the rest of us feeling way too adult.
Members of Sonic Youth and Arcade FIre play an 11 minute version of “All Tomorrow’s Parties.”
Also, below is a crazy, juvenile film made in 1987 featuring Sonic Youth called “Lou Believers.” It’s terrible, but…
British electronic musician/singer-songwriter James Blake has won this year’s Barclaycard Mercury Prize for his 2013 album, Overgrown, beating out David Bowie’s The Next Day, Arctic Monkeys’ AM, Savages’ Silence Yourself and others.
A group of music critics and music industry players choose the winner each year.
Past winners have included Portishead, PJ Harvey and the xx.
Here’s the shortlist of losing nominees:
Arctic Monkeys: AM
David Bowie: The Next Day
Foals: Holy Fire
Jake Bugg: Jake Bugg
Jon Hopkins: Immunity
Laura Marling: Once I Was an Eagle
Laura Mvula: Sing to the Moon
Savages: Silence Yourself
Back in the day — from 1994 through 1998 — Soul Coughing released a trio of very cool albums. Unfortunately, the best was the first, Ruby Vroom, which the folks that worked on my old online magazine, Addicted To Noise, and myself pretty much wore out listening to while working on early issues.
Now ex-Soul Coughing frontman Doughty has an album of Soul Coughing remakes. Circles came out in September of this year.