When I was a child, my father made a joke about Holly from Miami, FLA. When I didn’t get it he, like any good father, made me listen to some Lou Reed.
I don’t think that’s how most people were introduced to this musical legend who passed away over the weekend, but, I guess, that’s what happens when you grow up in Northern California.
Years later, when I first saw Hedwig and the Angry Inch, I identified with Hedwig’s fictional story of growing up with his head in the oven. Listening to Walk on the Wild Side.
I never did that, but it certainly felt that way sometimes.
As if the whole world would melt away. No troubles or concerns. Just the music. The beauty and the sorrow.
Incidentally, I don’t think I can mention Hedwig without commenting that my first job out of college was running lights for that show. Also, I still laugh at the line:
I got kicked out of university after delivering a brilliant lecture on the aggressive influence of German philosophy on rock and roll entitled “You, Kant, Always Get What You Want.”
But I digress.
On the news this morning, someone described Reed as the pessimists’ response to the optimism of hippies. I’m not sure I agree with that, but I can see where it comes from.
His music can be dark and gritty. It can be tough and uncomfortable.
But it’s also beautiful.
Lou Reed taught me that people are often not what you expect, that you should be whoever you are, and that life is hard…but that’s okay.
To live life fully, you’ve got to take the good with the bad. Just experience. And be. Live. Love. Lose.
What else is there?
Some people, they like to go out dancing
And other peoples, they have to work (Just watch me now!)
And there’s even some evil mothers
Well they’re gonna tell you that everything is just dirt
Y’know that, women, never really faint
And that villains always blink their eyes (ooh!),
And that, y’know, children are the only ones who blush!
And that, life is just to die!
(Sweet Jane, The Velvet Underground)