(This piece appeared originally in Ricki's blog, Growing Old With Rock & Roll .)
I'm sure by now almost everybody who reads Pencilstorm or Growing Old With Rock & Roll knows that Lou Reed died yesterday, Sunday Oct. 27th. I'm also sure anybody who has ever seen me play knows that there was no bigger influence on my music and songwriting than Lou Reed. My five favorite rock & roll performers of all time are - in chronological order - Pete Townshend, Lou Reed, Bruce Springsteen, Ian Hunter and Elliott Murphy.
I fully realize Bob Dylan is not on that list. Lou Reed was my Bob Dylan.
I was introduced to the music of The Velvet Underground by my best friend ever - Dave Blackburn - when he and I first met at Bishop Ready High School in 1968. (There's a song about it, kinda, in blog entry If All My Heroes Are Losers, Sept. 26th, 2012.) I have to admit I didn't get The Velvet Underground in '68 or '69 when Dave was first trying to indoctrinate me. (Dave was at that show at Valley Dale Ballroom here in Columbus, Ohio, that came out on one of the "Banana Album" box-set reissues. I didn't go because I found the Velvets "too noisy." I would think I stayed home that night with my Lovin' Spoonful and Paul Revere & The Raiders records.)
By 1973, however, when I came back from trying to start a band in Boston with Dave and moved into my first apartment, Reed's Transformer album and a German import best-of Velvet Underground double-record set (that I got for two bucks at an Ohio State University campus used-record store) became my touchstones, my muses and my Masters course in rock & roll songwriting. (see blog entry The Apartment, March 9th, 2012.)
If you had told me in 1973 that Lou Reed would still be alive in 2013, I'd have just laughed, dismissed you, and walked away. If you had told me Iggy Pop, Keith Richards and Bob Dylan would still be alive in 2013 - let alone still playing music - I'd have called you a fuckin' idiot to your face. (And Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis? Fuggetaboutit.)
And maybe that's kinda the entire point of this whole Growing Old With Rock & Roll Concept. I cannot reconcile which side of "It's better to burn out than to fade away." I believe in. I realize how awful a thing it is to say in the wake of Lou Reed's passing, but a large part of me wishes Pete Townshend HAD died before he got old, just so I wouldn't have to dislike him and all that he stands for more with each passing year. I was sad in 1978 when Keith Moon died, but Keith wasn't meant to get fat and wasted and useless as he had already started to do even 35 years ago. We're not all supposed to get old and have long careers in rock & roll.
Bruce Springsteen is. Ian Hunter is. Elliott Murphy is. Alejandro Escovedo is. Maybe Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Richard Thompson, Steve Earle and Dave Alvin are, but I haven't bought a record by any of those five artists in years. And David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash certainly shouldn't still be out there.
And does it make me sad that Lou Reed's last recorded work is that debacle duet record with Metallica from a coupla years ago? You'd best believe it makes me sad.
But I digress.......
I think before I lose control of this blog and start down too many rabbit holes, I'm just going to turn it over to Elliott Murphy. The following are the liner notes to 1969 - Velvet Underground Live, released by Mercury records in 1973 to capitalize on Lou Reed's post-"Walk On The Wild Side" popularity. It's my favorite piece of rock journalism/poetry ever, and it says more about rock & roll and loss than I ever could, in a hundred years.