Lou Reed

Lou Reed

Ode to Street Hassle: Some Thoughts on Lou Reed

(Photo: STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)

I want to talk about Lou Reed, not because I knew him or because my peripheral memories of him and his music are any more important than anyone else’s, but because he was my tragically flawed hero and I loved him like a close relation even though I didn’t know him. He always did exactly what he wanted in his music and didn’t care if people liked it or not and so in service to him I’m going to do what I want.

“It’s hard having heroes,” Lester Bangs, Reed’s greatest critic, once wrote. “It’s the hardest thing in the world.” I take this to mean that everyone’s heroes always end up human in the end, subject to all of life’s great failures. A lot of Lou Reed’s music was about these failures, but also the possibility of love among the squalor. I offer the following recollections more or less as evidence of my own failure in reckoning with his life and dealing with his passing. Read More

Lou Reed

Lou Reed’s ‘Metal Machine Music’ Gets the Museum Treatment


Beginning today, the University Museum at Cal State Long Beach will house a sound installation based on Lou Reed’s 1975 album Metal Machine Music. The double album was largely a critical and commercial failure upon its release, but it went on to appeal to a generation of audiophiles and feedback hounds for its intricate recording and, well, sheer strangeness.

For those of you unfamiliar with the album, it’s basically an hour of distortion, feedback and guitar fills that are manipulated to the point of nonrecognition. A casual listen is something like this: SQUEEAAAARRRRRKKKKKKKK. For 64 minutes. Read More