Beautiful Tribute to Lou Reed In the New York Times

Photo by Jean Baptiste Mondino.
Photo by Jean Baptiste Mondino.

In today’s New York Times, book critic Michiko Kakutani offers a beautiful tribute to Lou Reed. It is fitting that Lou Reed, the New York outsider who documented the outsiders of New York, should now be celebrated in the ultimate New York establishment media, the New York Times.

About the New York that Reed wrote and sang about in song for close to 50 years, Kakutani writes, it was “as distinctive as Chandler’s Los Angeles or Baudelaire’s Paris.”

Kakutani continues:

Mr. Reed was a pioneer on rock’s frontier with the avant-garde, translating lessons he learned at Andy Warhol’s Factory, and the disruptive innovations of the Beat writers — Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs and Hubert Selby Jr. (“Last Exit to Brooklyn”) — to the realm of popular music. He not only embraced their adversarial stance toward society and transgressive subject matter (in songs like “Street Hassle” and “Heroin”) but also developed his own version of their raw, vernacular language, while adding a physical third dimension with guitars and drums. His early songs for the Velvet Underground — delivered in his intimate, conversational sing-speak — still sound so astonishingly inventive and new that it’s hard to remember they were written nearly half a century ago.

If Mr. Reed provided a literary bridge to the Beats (and through them, back to the Modernists, and the French “decadents” Rimbaud and Verlaine, and even Poe, the subject of his 2003 project “The Raven”), he also created a bridge forward to punk and to glam, indie, new wave and noise rock. He would become a formative influence on musicians like Talking Heads, Patti Smith, Roxy Music, R.E.M., the Sex Pistols, Sonic Youth, the Strokes, Pixies, and Antony and the Johnsons. As his friend the artist Clifford Ross observed, “Lou was the great transmitter” — of ideas, language and innovation.

Read the whole essay at the New York Times.

About Michael Goldberg

Michael Goldberg is a distinguished pioneer in the online music space; Newsweek magazine called him an ‘Internet visionary.’ In 1994 he founded Addicted To Noise (ATN), the highly influential music web site. He was a senior vice-president and editor in chief at SonicNet from March 1997 through May 2000. In 1997, Addicted To Noise won Webby awards for best music site in 1998 and 1999, and also won Yahoo Internet Life! awards for three years running as best music site in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Prior to starting Addicted To Noise, Goldberg was an editor and senior writer at Rolling Stone magazine for 10 years. His writing has also appeared in Wired, Esquire, Vibe, Details, Downbeat, NME and numerous other publications. Michael recently completed his first novel, Days of the Crazy-Wild, and is currently writing a second novel.

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