GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Online Extras

October 28, 2013

Lou Reed: Rock 'n' roll poet of the streets dead at 71

NEW YORK — The stare from across a desk was enough for me to question whether my first and only interview with Lou Reed had been a good idea.

He'd already curtly dismissed a publicist who had dreamed for years of meeting his musical hero. Now Reed seemed to be debating whether my admitted sin — I wasn't a native New Yorker — was worth overlooking to get some business done.

Yes, Reed, who died Sunday at age 71 of liver disease related to a recent transplant, wasn't an easy man. New York isn't an easy town. Few artists reflected a city better than he did, and he found it an endless source of inspiration. The 2003 retrospective package we talked about claimed that status as a title: "NYC Man."

As a member of the Velvet Underground and later as a solo artist, Reed chronicled the rough side of a city at a time when it wasn't so hidden from view. Transvestites, drug addicts and prostitutes found a place in his music. Behind a loping bass line, the cinematic lyrics of "Walk on the Wild Side" brought that world to others. For many musicians, their best-known songs aren't necessarily representative of their work. That wasn't the case with Reed.

Many of his most popular songs, like "Sweet Jane," ''Rock and Roll" and "Heroin," dated from the period of the late 1960s into the 1970s with the Velvets and soon after they broke up.

The frequently challenging subject matter didn't lend itself to mass success and, "Walk on the Wild Side" excepted, Reed didn't achieve it. His singing voice didn't help, either; Reed had limited range and sang in a conversational style.

The Velvet Underground didn't sniff the top of the charts when alive, giving rise to a famous quote from producer and Roxy Music founder Brian Eno, who suggested that every one of the few people who bought their records, himself included, later started bands.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Online Extras

NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years