Monday, October 28, 2013

Lou Reed, My Dad, and the Tennis Racquet Guitar

There aren't too many artists who can bridge the generational divide, or the straight/gay divide, but one of them was Lou Reed.

Lou Reed, the singer-songwriter whose darkly poetic recordings as frontman for the Velvet Underground and as a solo artist provided indispensable blueprints for punk, glam, noise rock and nearly every identifiable strain of indie rock, died on October 27. He was 71.

Equally influenced by Chuck Berry and Arthur Rimbaud, Reed’s spiky, provocative lyrics tackled the experiences of drug addicts, transvestites, street hustlers and depressives with a directness and empathy heretofore unheard in American popular music.

I remember playing my Dad's vinyl records in the basement, with the lights turned down, and thinking that guy gets it, he knows the score. I wanna walk on the wild side !!! I wanna be a poet, a rebel, AND a rock star !!!!! I wanna wear shades at night !!!! I wanna live in Lou's world !!!!!!

And this, in my own words, is what I remember from a phone conversation with my Dad this afternoon.

DAD --- I loved everything he did, but the only time I saw him play was one of the biggest disasters EVER.  It was at the Hotel Nelson in Montreal around 1979. He kept people waiting for over an hour, then started playing like he didn't want to be there, or was too stoned on something to remember the words. I didn't mind because we had a front row table, and I was just glad to be so close to the living legend.

But then one of the people at my table started HECKLING him !!!! And although Lou didn't say anything, he spend the entire show glaring at us with eyes as wide as SAUCERS. I've never been so embarrassed in my life.

ME--- But not as embarrassed as I was, when you caught me in the basement, prancing around in a leather jacket with shades on, playing Satellite of Love on a TENNIS RACQUET !!!!

DAD---Yes, but then if not for that your mother and I wouldn't have bought you your first electric guitar... the next day. *Sigh*

ME --- Uh...Right. Thanks. I owe Lou EVERYTHING !!!

DAD--- And it was STILL one of the BEST shows I ever saw !!!

And he's right about that eh? It was quite a show. With so many great songs.

Look up everybody, and say thank you.

There's a new satellite of love in the sky tonight. A wild thing.

And it will shine FOREVER...

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  1. Anonymous1:45 AM

    Cowboy Junkies, Sweet Jane.

    1. hi there...thanks for that. Great song, great band...

  2. Replies
    1. hi WILLY...Indeed. I knew he was great, but after reading all the stuff about him, I didn't realize how great. But his influence lives on, and I'm STILL trying to play Satellite of Love... ;)

  3. Nice Simon, for a person not considered a commercial success he sure had a lot of fans. Another original lost, I am so grateful I was able to experience his greatness in real time. Just days ago over at my favorite hockey blog.
    I left this comment

    When I'm rushing on my run
    Wow, the FHF is in my blood
    And the blood is in my head
    When I put a puck into my vein
    Then I tell you things aren't quite the same
    When I'm rushing on my run
    Then the blood begins to flow, Irie
    When it shoots up the dropper's neck
    You can't help me not you guys
    All you sweet girls with all your sweet talk
    You can all go take a fucking walk
    I am not comming down
    will not take off my sailor suit and cap
    Until the mighty habs
    take the parade route back

    -Lou Steve Reed

    and Orangeman made a perfect reply

    Oh what a perfect day. I'm glad I spent it with you

    1. hi Steve...I like it, but if you are going to wait until the mighty Habs take the parade route back, and the rites of Spring return, you may have have to wait a while. Sic Transit Gloria... ;)

  4. Anonymous9:18 AM

    Oh Simon, I should have known you'd do a post about Lou.

    I was at that same show as your dad at the Hotel Nelson. Had dragged 11 of my friends with me too. I think only one of them was still awake with me by the time Lou managed to take the stage at 2:30am. I kept myself awake through the show by trying to catch Lou blink. Never did see one though, a blink of the eyes I mean.

    But years later I saw Lou Reed again at The Ritz in NYC and it was great.

    Here's one of my favourites:

    He made you want to "wear shades at night"? haha, good stuff.

    Thanks for your great post!

    1. hi there...thanks for this story it's really amazing. I absolutely love it. And I was able to call my Dad and tell him I had corroborated his outrageous story about our mutual idol. Which just about made my day.
      he said he hadn't remembered how late it was before Lou staggered out of a limo and into the club.
      So thank you so much. And yes, I guess everybody has an off day, but Lou was so great. As for the shades at night, I'm afraid that phase lasted for a while. ;) My friends thought I was trying to be Jack Nicholson, but I told them don't be ridiculous. I liked Jack but Lou was The Man...

  5. Good interview with Lou Reed here

    1. hi sassy....Thanks for that. It's amazing how multi-talented he was and how many artists he worked with and influenced. He never achieved huge commercial success but he did it his way, and that as they say is priceless...