Lou Reed died today at age 71, the details of his death undisclosed.
I was sixteen when a friend gave me a mix tape with a few Velvet Underground songs on it. I listened to “Venus in Furs” and “Heroin” and “Run, Run, Run,” and felt my mind being pried open with a razor sharp can opener.
It’s like someone just showed me that a rainbow has more than two colors in it. His haunting solo work – “Perfect Day,” for example – picked up where the Velvets left off, and cemented Reed’s legacy as an auteur.
Reed and the Velvet Underground will never be in the record books for album sales, but if there’s a cosmic ledger out there tracking the power of his influence, the question has to be asked, how many kids in garages picked up a guitar and started playing because they heard “Venus In Furs” for the first time and thought, “Jesus, if I can pull off something 1/16 that amazing, I could die happy?”
The answer is a lot, a whole lot.
I hope Lou passed happily. I hope he knew what his work meant to the world.