Lou Reed :: Between Thought And Expression

When I heard the news of Lou Reed's death yesterday, I didn't immediately reach for a record, but instead picked up my copy of  Lester Bangs' Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung. Re-reading Bangs classic Creem interviews with Reed, I was once again struck by their relationship, as it's the same type of relation any music geek ends up eventually having with rock and roll: we worship at the alter of our heroes - the people who make cool and art look so effortless - and eventually we learn that they're a bunch of flawed, pitiable rats just like the rest of us. And it makes us angry. We become flustered and super critical. How could someone who wrote "All Tomorrow's Parties" or "Who Loves the Sun" or "Venus in Furs" be anything less than a benevolent, thoughtful and magnanimous Prometheus? In a bit of Orwellian double-think, we hold those thoughts simultaneously - we revere and revile. Or more accurately, we revere and we realize - realize that these artists we've grown up worshiping are just as human as the rest of us. We do and we don't accept that, and the collision of those truths leaves us wounded.

That's how Bangs felt about Reed. It's how and why he could write in a set of unpublished notes:

"Lou realized early on that all you need to do is touch the other's cheek and just give them some small recognition and then let them be and maybe record it and thereby perhaps justify their tragedy through art. And all art is an act of love towards the whole human race. Aw, Lou, it's the best music ever made, the instrumental intro to 'All Tomorrow's Parties' is like watching dawn break over a bank of buildings through the windows of these elegantly hermetic cages..."

Only the good shit. Aquarium Drunkard is powered by its patrons. Keep the servers humming and help us continue doing it by pledging your support.

To continue reading, become a member or log in.