Much venom has been spent against the recently departed Lou Reed. He apparently was emblematic of all that was wrong in America. He was the poster boy of popular musical artists in terms of drug addiction and sexual deviance. And apparently it feels good to point out and condemn his deviance.

I for one like Lou Reed’s addictions and deviance, especially when his songs are confronted with such dismissal. Would I praise heroin addiction or being a transvestite or a prostitute? Far from it. But it seems to me that there is no need to shore up one’s own virtue when it comes to an artist who sang of such disturbing characteristics of life. And a singer who sang of such emotion as presented in the nuance of day to day life ought to be given his due.

Did Lou Reed take a view of life whereby the low explained the high? I actually don’t think so. The WILD SIDE is far from base, even if it is perverse. Instead, at the end of the day, I think he was exceptionally aware of the barriers that the low makes for any realization of the high.

Whether one is VICIOUS, it is a viciousness that recognizes that it must be done with a flower. Regardless, that flower could be held on the PERFECT DAY in the park and made ineffectual in its viciousness. At the end of the day, one could like things on TV in the SATTELITE OF LOVE. One may have been bold in love (even perverse love), but it was only before one watched it on TV.

And if one thinks Lou Reed is boring, or preachy, or merely deviant, then one ought to take a listen to the albums MAGIC AND LOSS or SONGS FOR DRELLA.

Or listen to SWEET JANE. And if rock and roll is ultimately corrupting, then Lou Reed spoke of it in the song ROCK & ROLL.

I don’t believe it.

Articles by John Presnall

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