As others on the internets have decried, Mr. Reed’s passing deserves more than an RIP post and a video. Much more. Here goes.
I like the Eno quote that only about 30,000 people bought the first VU record, but all of them started bands. I can trace the lineage of my own projects through at least a few dozen of these early adopters, as we would refer to them now. SNAIL played a version of What Goes On for years as part of our set, even as other songs got replaced by newer, better ones. That one seemed to never go out of rotation – and I sure hope now that we did it some measure of the justice it did us.
(Far) Too young to have have seen the Velvets, I did see Lou Reed perform once, as part of the big, weird Amnesty International shows in 1985. It was one of six shows that took place in the U.S. and included the first Police reunion, U2, Peter Gabriel, the Nevilles and Reed (and others). And we didn’t need binoculars. My buddy’s ex-girlfriend worked at Turtles Records and her manager, who had a crush on her, got us (alas, not the buddy) tickets on the sixth row. I could see Stewart Copeland jumping around backstage right before they went on. That close. So I actually watched Lou Reed play, drops picks and smile, from about 20 feet away. Thanks, Elaine.
And lastly, to keep this short, when green boy was born, I was very fastidious about what recorded music we would play in the house during those first six months or so – and I don’t know where this came from, it was just totally made up, much like the rest of the experience – and Mrs. Green let it fly, as she had many more pressing concerns. But all we listened to at home for six months was the Velvet Underground Loaded, Miles Davis’ Kind Of Blue and Hank Williams’ greatest hits volume 1. We eventually loosened up, of course, and I think some heavy pop and Coltrane quickly followed. But judging by his progress so far, I’m sticking by the wisdom of this early episode in quixotic parenting.