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Chronicles of a Fan Girl: Lou Reed

Lou Reed, Chronicles of a Fan Girl, RIP, The Velvet UndergroundOn Sunday, Oct. 27, I found myself at the Costco gas pumps. Incapable of letting a free moment pass quietly, I was on my phone trolling the news. My heart and jaw dropped as my eyes ran over the headline “Lou Reed Dead.” A harsh gut punch and I involuntarily let out a gasp. Let it be a hoax, let it be untrue. It sadly was all too true. I felt alone and crippled with the heavy burden of this news.  I desperately looked around at strangers pumping their discount fuel. Why weren’t they upset? Didn’t anyone realize what had happened?

My companion turned in time to ask what the matter was, and with a quivering chin I attempted to put into words the colossal loss as my face twisted into unattractive, damp expressions of grief. I could see his confusion as he learned this was not a friend or a family member, and I was angry at myself as I failed to express the gravity of this moment. Words failed to describe why I was weeping in public for a man I had never personally known.  I gave up, attempted to compose myself and through sad, childlike hiccups I simply said, “I just love rock ‘n’ roll so much.” My companion, helpless to understand my sorrow, saw a moment to offer comfort and said, “I know you do.”


My thoughts shot to two people. My friend who knew Mr. Reed personally and who, like me, worships the power and the glory of music. I thought of him reading the news over a cup of coffee and was sorry we were so far apart knowing what a sad day he was either already having or about to encounter. I knew my tears, while uncomfortable, would make sense to him. I resolved not to write him as I knew everyone else would. Adding one more email to the pile seemed needless as I had nothing to offer him in terms of comfort or wisdom. With respect and affection, I hoped in that moment that he would find comfort in the ever-loving arms of his record collection.

My next thought was of my father, the man who introduced me to the music of The Velvet Underground, Lou Reed and the art of Andy Warhol. The music and art would be a revelation too large to fully comprehend as a child. With every passing year on this Earth, I find that I come to understand and appreciate it in new and wonderful ways. Lou Reed’s music made this “know-it-all” child take note that I wasn’t even close to knowing much. I couldn’t wrap my tiny little head around it any more than I could reach the toaster oven.

As a teenager, his music made me ache to embody the very spirit of “rock ‘n’ roll,” to play music that made the world move,  to live in leather jackets and sunglasses and to aggravate narrow-minded critics and yet have a cult following. A life Lou Reed mastered. As an adult, now in my mid-thirties, I find that Lou Reed’s music lives in me like some sort of internal iPod. After a particularly wonderful day, I hear an involuntary symphony playing PerfectDay” and Reed’s melancholy words providing me with a soundtrack. I know that how I hear his music will continue to evolve if I am fortunate enough to carry this music through the rest of my years.

Lou Reed.Iggy.ZiggyI could never imagine Lou Reed as anything but a master of the craft. I couldn’t imagine him working behind a counter at a dry cleaner, or waiting tables. He was too big to me, too important. He seemed to be born to be the very thing he became. He influenced all the music I love; he touched the lives of all who I admire. The world owes a great deal to this man. I know that I do.

My heart goes out to Laurie Anderson and all of Lou Reed’s friends and family. I am just fan girl who cannot write anything that has not already been written, or say anything that hasn’t already been said, better and with more beauty, but I felt inclined to share my love and endless respect.

Lou Reed.Laurie Anderson

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