Friday, November 1, 2013

Vicious Bandwagon

"It always bothers me to see people writing ‘RIP’ when a person dies. It just feels so insincere and like a cop-out. To me, ‘RIP’ is the microwave dinner of posthumous honors." 

We lost a biggie last week, with the passing of quintessential New Yorker, not quite glam rocker, punk rock godfather and irascible, not lovable poet "curmudgeon", Lou Reed.

Musically, Lou and most of his incarnations were secondary to my listening interests:  influential, sure.  Groundbreaking, no doubt.  Could he play guitar?  Listen to his attack, with Mick Ronson, on "Vicious" - but to my ear, something was always missing.  He couldn't sing to save his life, first off!  That droning, aggressive monotone in which he spoke his songs was clearly effective in serving the material -- imagine "Sweet Jane" or "Walk on The Wild Side" delivered any other way -- but in the end, it was alienating.

And that's exactly what the man, and the material, wanted:  you didn't connect with, or "get", Lou Reed ... You didn't "relate" to Metal Machine Music ... and even if you did, or claimed to, you weren't wanted.

As a listener, Lou Reed could take me or leave me.  And I was generally indifferent to Lou Reed.

Though musically (creatively, artistically), I may have found his 'don't give a fuck' shtick vaguely compelling in an arm's length, respectful way ... personally, in terms of the guy's overall comportment - Lou Reed, by most accounts, was a twat.  And I'm sorry (no I'm not), but he doesn't deserve the canonization he's been receiving from members of the press and others who suffered his "curmudgeonly" abuse, and it's somehow excused now -- no longer painful or professionally embarrassing -- because he's dead.

Typically hypocritical, and desperate to be loved-sounding.  "I was there ... a part of things.  I get Lou Reed!  And now he's no more, but his music lives on and I feel that too:  Look, I'm downloading "Perfect Day".  Isn't that neat?".

It's like the selfish parent refusing to let go, and dressing the baby in punk and rock t-shirts; or the onrush of simpletons suddenly buying Steinbeck ... misled by the vaguely slinky title into thinking there's something Fifty Shades-kinky about East of Eden (before diffidently stalling on page fifteen, when it's realized there's no page of biblical passion!).

It's like a CE (Christmas / Easter) Christian ... High Holiday Jew, or an idiot who lines up to wait to eat out:  just a bandwagon jumper ("I don't even like hamburgers!"); or a 'friend', 'fan' or 'follower' without knowing why.
But you know people get all emotional / and sometimes man, they just don't act rational / You know, they think they're just on TV - Street Hassle (1978)
Simply put, enough with the Lou Reed eulogies.

Apparently, Lou Reed could be an asshole.  I never met the man, but I did deliver musical gear to his wife once (at the time, I think, his girlfriend) ... and she was an asshole!

No, that's not true.  At all.  Let me state unequivocally, that I'm joking:  Laurie Anderson, in the seven-second glimpse that I caught of her while I was humping an amplifier into place, was certainly civil ... and likely, she knew and loved the "real" Lou Reed, not the "Lou Reed" of (velvet) underground music ... the (john) caged "artist", the New York doll from "out on the Island" ... the asshole that comprised "Lou Reed" - which the real Lou Reed would deign to show us ... real people rarely the way they're perceived ...

There he goes now ... May that spirit of punk be left in peace, to rock on undiluted.
"Walk on The Wild Side", ©Jeff Glovsky