Messed Up

Messed Up

4 November 2013

 

It might not be immediately obvious, but the above cartoon is a small homage to one of my favourite musicians of all time; Lou Reed, one of the founding members of the Velvet Underground, and an accomplished solo artist in his own right, who died last week aged 71.

The first Lou Reed song I ever remember hearing was 'Dirty Boulevard' from his 1989 album 'New York'. As a pastor's kid who had grown up immersed in church culture, the lyrics of that song about poverty and degradation on a New York street were a million miles away from anything even remotely familiar to my own experience (read them here, if you don't know them.) But together with the simple, driving three-chord blues rock tune it resonated with me in a way that few songs before that had. Its music and message was raw truth, and it sounded awesome.
 
Lou himself was a bit messed up because of the electro-shock therapy he was given as a teenager to try and 'cure' his bisexuality. As a result, his songs were often messed up – lyrically, thematically and musically – be it the cacophonous noise generated by the Velvet Underground in my favourite song of theirs, 'Heroin', or his downright bizarre album 'Metal Machine Music – right up to the much derided collaborative project 'Lulu' that Lou recorded with metal band Metallica (a five star record in my opinion.)
 
His music was never perfect, and that's the way Lou liked it. He could be noisy, or tender, or straight-up cool, but there was always that core of truth that resonated in his music; life is messed up, but it can also be beautiful.
 
I will miss hearing new music from Lou Reed, but I will always savour that which he did provide in his time on this earth. Here's to Lou, and the beautiful messy music he created.