The music world was rocked by the loss of Lou Reed yesterday, as the rock legend passed away in New York — with details like Reed’s cause of death secondary to the massive mourning in media, social and standard.
Lou Reed was one of the talents that not only shaped the rock scene of the genre’s golden era — along with the Velvet Underground and apart from it, colored a part of that history wholesale. Rock critics and average Joes alike mourned the loss of the influential musician this weekend, credited for so much culturally in that era.
John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants commented on Facebook, “[w]hen I read ‘The Velvet Underground’s first album only sold a few thousand copies, but everyone who bought one formed a band’ I understood my musical community.”
In an earlier interview quoted by the New York Times on the occasion of Lou Reed’s death addressed the sometimes haunting or dark themes addressed in the musician’s ethereal and infinitely palatable work — a tendency often acerbically used by fans against those who describe the simplistic beauty of such tracks.
Reed had said:
“I’ve always believed that there’s an amazing number of things you can do through a rock ‘n’ roll song and that you can do serious writing in a rock song if you can somehow do it without losing the beat. The things I’ve written about wouldn’t be considered a big deal if they appeared in a book or movie.”
The body of Lou Reed’s work was commented upon by the artist himself in 1987, and he’s quoted as saying back then:
“All through this, I’ve always thought that if you thought of all of it as a book then you have the Great American Novel, every record as a chapter… They’re all in chronological order. You take the whole thing, stack it and listen to it in order, there’s my Great American Novel.”
Just recently Reed again mused on the worth and impact of an artist’s contribution as he reviewed Kanye West’s “Yeezus,” saying:
“I have never thought of music as a challenge — you always figure the audience is at least as smart as you are,” he wrote. “You do this because you like it, you think what you’re making is beautiful. And if you think it’s beautiful, maybe they think it’s beautiful.”
The details of Reed’s death were reported later, and Bloomberg explains:
“He died yesterday at a hospital in Southampton, New York, his literary agent Andrew Wylie said in a telephone interview. The cause was complications from a liver transplant, which he received in May at the Cleveland Clinic.”
Lou Reed was 71.