He was supposed to be immortal

Lou Reed, dead.

Lou Reed was subversive. I first encountered his music while reading the school bus in junior high, which is a strange place to listen to the Velvet Underground, I tell you. There I was, bored out of my skull, trapped on those uncomfortable bench seats, on my way to a suburban public school that I detested, and the driver would just turn the radio to the local pop station and turn it up loud to keep us distracted. And so I’d sit there, listening intently to a guy singing about the wild side of New York, wondering if the administrators at school had ever listened to these lyrics, because they made me feel funny inside, and want to get out and go get a cheap Greyhound ticket and end up in a different kind of bus station in a big city on the other side of the continent.

And then, once we arrived at school, they always played some conservative anecdote by that colossal douche, Paul Harvey. My poor brain, whipsawed between Reed and Harvey. I knew which one spoke truth, at least. But still, I think I figured out quickly that no, the principal of the school never listened to the lyrics of the songs we liked. Reed. Cooper. Joplin. Zappa. If he did, that bus would have gone silent.

He’s one of those people who pounded at the conventionality we were supposed to be molded into. I have to thank all the people who have done that over the years.


  1. QueQuoi, traded in her jackboots for jillstilettos says

    I’m listening to All Tomorrow’s Parties. Seemed fitting.
    Goodbye, Lou.

  2. tuibguy says

    Yeah, I am sad to see him gone; although I hadn’t listened to much of his recent work I really loved listening to the Velvet Underground’s “VU,” the remastered songs. Just listened to “Foggy Notion,” and am amazed again at what they were doing with guitars….

  3. chakolate says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, for calling Paul Harvey a colossal douchebag. My father listened to him, er… religiously, and I always gritted my teeth and left the room. The worst thing was when he’d turn it on in the car: no escape!

  4. anuran says

    My father, a lifelong Liberal Democrat outside of voting for Goldwater in 1964, would play Paul Harvey sometimes. Remembering it makes me want wash my brain with a steel-bristled brush

  5. says

    Excellent choice, Chaz.

    I started with What’s Good. Really seemed the thing.

    But yeah, New York, end to end, loud, is gonna have to be the followup, now.

  6. Rey Fox says

    Have had “Transformer” sitting on my hard drive for weeks now. Ought to give it a listen.

  7. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    I’ve never been a fan of funerals, so I’ve always told my parents/wife that when I die, I just want a simple little thing to let them grieve and I want them to play “Goodnight Ladies” from Transformer. I’m going to go listen to that right now.

  8. Olav says

    Seems like PZ’s bus driver was quite the subversive himself, to have such an influence on his passengers.

    And yes, Sweet Jane from Rock & Roll Animal is the best. The whole album is great, some fantastic musicians appear in it.

  9. left0ver1under says

    If you have many meetings, you have many partings, such is the price of involvement in life. The other choice is isolation, which is worse.

  10. randay says

    On that Greyhound, did you want to pluck your eyebrows and shave your legs?

    Don’t forget Reed’s original cohort, John Cale. Their combination of talents made Velvet sound.