Nevermind The Posers

See ya in the pit.

Lou Reed October 28, 2013

by Jon Warhol

Rock legend Lou Reed died on Sunday Oct 27, 2013. I remember where I am and what I’m doing at the moment I found out one of my heroes passed – first George Carlin, then Christopher Hitchens, now Lou. Today, I’ll never forget how I opened my facebook tab to check for notifications and the first thing on my news feed, posted only seconds ago by the page “I bet I can’t find 100,000 people who know John Cale!”, announced the passing of an icon who not only had an enormous effect on the world of music, but my life and musical taste.

I’ll also never forget how scared I felt the first time I heard “Walk on the Wild Side” on the radio driving to high school one morning. It is by no means a “scary song,” but let me give some perspective: I was a young and impressionable high schooler with innocent ears, whose music taste was mainly classic rock influenced by my dad and surf music. There was something about Reed’s anti-singing that left me awestruck and unable to turn the dial. Lou’s signature cooler-than-cool NYC deadpan voice spoke of blowjobs, transvestites, drugs, colored girls and things I was too young to totally get and characters years before my time. As soon as I got home, I did research and found he was in a band called The Velvet Underground and decided to give them a listen. If “Walk on the Wild Side” scared me, you can only imagine what sort of madness was going through my head as I sat through “Heroin.” Like the effect of the drug Lou sang about, after just one listen, I was hooked.

Throughout his half-century career, Lou has had personal and musical high high’s and low low’s. No matter what direction he took himself and his music, he did so in a unique and artistic way. From the commercial glam rock of Transformer to the hour-long white noise of Metal Machine Music to the spoken word of The Raven to ambient meditation music from Hudson River Wind Meditations, Lou produced an incredibly long and diverse body of work. As the Velvet Underground’s principal songwriter, he created four studio albums, two bootleg albums and four live albums worth of material. As a solo artist, he made 22 solo records, 12 live albums and 44 singles. I own a good amount of his work, but still have a lot to go if I want to complete my collection. Whether or not you enjoy every single piece of his work, there is no denying he has been one of Rock’s most prolific and prominent composers.

He is one of very few, if not the only, to have made it onto both Rolling Stone’s lists of greatest singers and greatest guitarists of all time. It could be argued that without Lou Reed, David Bowie’s career would not have taken off the way it did, glam rock would not have happened and there would be no industrial music. However he is critically remembered, it is important to remember that historically speaking, Reed furthered Rock as being taken as a serious art form. He sung about topics considered risqué and taboo for his time but continually insisted that no one would find it weird if his lyrics were printed in a novel or a film script.

Reed’s artsy and non-radio-friendly songs have had the greatest impact on me. Even today you may never hear “Heroin,” “Venus in Furs,” “Street Hassle” or any number of his best works on the radio, but the noisier and more profane his compositions can be, the more beautiful I find them. I can’t even begin to think about amount of time, from the first time I heard “Walk on the Wild Side” to the present, how many hours/days/weeks I have spent listening to, buying, thinking about, talking about, reading about, researching, playing and enjoying Lou’s music. In the midst of all the “RIP LOU!” messages, tweets and whatevers by fans and celebrities, perhaps the short yet moving message by Reed’s life-long friend and band mate, John Cale, holds the greatest impact: “The world has lost a fine songwriter and poet…I’ve lost my ‘school-yard buddy’”.

Although I did not know him anywhere near the level John Cale did, I feel in a way, I too have lost a friend – a friend who left me more than 50 years’ of music to discover and further impact my life. A great regret will be that I can never see Lou perform live. His legacy and songs will not just live on in my heart, but in the heart of anyone who has ever picked up a guitar.

Long live Lou Reed, and long live Rock n Roll.


#3…Top 5 Favorite Musicians of All Time May 5, 2010

TNT’s #3 Musician of All Time
3. Thelonious MonkOh Thelonious Monk, why do I love you so much?  Perhaps it’s your ability to always be different and create art with every note played?  Or maybe it’s because you are a founding father of bebop?  Could it be that you’re so addicting?  Once I hear “Ruby, My Dear” , “Straight, No Chaser”, or my all time favorite that got me hooked, “Blue Monk,”  you consume my auditory senses for hours.  I love you for all the reasons above and for the fact that you were never afraid to just be yourself.

Alex’s #3 Musician of All Time
3. John Frisciante and Flea of RHCP – Say what you want about Hillel’s replacement in the Red Hot Chili Peppers after Hillel’s untimely death, and his douchebaggery, but this dude is a genius with any stringed instrument.  Flea is tied with him because not only does he wail on bass, he rips it up with the trumpet…yes the trumpet, that was his first instrument.

Mark’s #3 Musician of All Time
3. Stewart Copeland – One of the greatest and most original drummers to ever grace the music scene.  His use of polyrhythms’ and insanely awkward time signatures helped to build drum patterns that were equal parts abrasive and eloquent, but never overbearing or out of place.  I have played myself to sleep merely trying to replicate his distinctive style.  He is now bringing his controlled chaos to film projects nationwide, and it couldn’t have made me more of a huge fan.  He is one of the reasons that drumming is one of my primary instruments.
RECOMMENDED: Regatta de Blanc (“Walking on the Moon” and “The Bed’s Too Big Without You”), Ghost in the Machine (“Spirits in the Material World”, “Secret Journey”, and “Omegaman”) Rumble Fish Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (“Don’t Box Me In” ft. Stan Ridgway)

Angela’s #3 Musician of All Time
3. Jack Terricloth (of the World/Inferno Friendship Society) – In all my years of going to shows, I have never seen a more charismatic front man.  As the lead singer of this punk rock orchestra, Jack has managed to take the class of NY, mix it in with the rough and rugged spit in your face attitude of punk, and bring it on stage to a cult of kids dedicated to wearing three-piece suits and waltzing at every show.  His command of an audience and ability to entertain never stops.  His vocals are on point and he always keeps the fans at attention.  You never feel like you are there watching a band, but rather when you go to a show, you feel like you and the band had made plans to meet and hang out.  Even the banter between sets never gets old, boring, or dry.  It’s always relevant and entertaining.  Few front men have the ability to ooze personality and charisma as much as Jack does.

Klone’s #3 Musician of All Time
3. David Bowie (1947 – ) – Born David Robert Jones, this iconic rocker inspired several generations of musicians in several musical genres, most immediately and notably the birth of glam rock with his androgyny laden alter-ego Ziggy Stardust.  With regular reinvention of his image and sound, one might take note of the tribute paid to Bowie in the HBO Series Flight of the Concords.  In the season one episode “Bowie”, main character Jermaine appeared as the various incarnations of David Bowie’s image, including The Goblin King from the 1986 film “Labyrinth”.  The man does everything from rocking to acting to directing, producing and all around knocking us on our asses with his sophistication.  One of my favorite quotes of all time is attributed to him, “Artists make culture, not the critic.”


#5…Top 5 Favorite Musicians of All Time May 3, 2010

TNT’s #5 Musician of All Time
5. Freddie Mercury – Talking about charisma and diversity, Freddie Mercury takes the cake (Just like Marie Antoinette).  I love that every song he ever wrote defied genres.  From the gospel feel of “Killer Queen” to the protest-ish  lyrics in “Bicycle”, Mercury is a rock n’ roll icon.  Every song he’s been involved with is amazing, and judging by my first reaction to his music, I would have killed to see him live. ❤

Alex’s #5 Musician of All Time
5. Mozart – Gotta keep it real with the classics (real classics), and not only did this powdered wig wearing dude write symphonies and epics, he wrote “twinkle, twinkle little star” before his fifth birthday.  Suck on that, Jackson five!

Mark’s #5 Musician of All Time
5. David Bowie – The musical chameleon, and an artist who is a huge influence on my musical life.  What stands out about his music so much isn’t just his genre hopping, but his willingness to try new things while at the same time being able to stick with the times and doing it all on his own terms with a fresh approach to each song.  RECOMMENDED: Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps): title track, “Fashion”, Heathen: “Heathen [the Rays]” and “Cactus”

Angela’s #5 Musician of All Time
5. Maynard James Keenan – Maynard, in all his strange behavior, is a brilliant musician.  From A Perfect Circle to Tool, his vocals are incredibly distinct and his lyrics are even more so.  The live performances are always something you wouldn’t ever expect to see, except at a show with Maynard…always dark and mysterious, Maynard has been able to bring something different to the world of music and make a mark on the industry.

Klone’s #5 Musician of All Time
5. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791)
– Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilius Mozart could be considered, arguably, to be the world’s first true rock-star.  Dead by age 35, the man had accomplished more than many modern musicians have in their lifetimes, including having composed and performed his first pieces for European royalty by age 5.  For a glimpse of what made him a role-model for the likes of Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix, one would do well to check out the Academy Award winning 1984 musical film “Amadeus”.  Regardless of your stance on classical music, Mozart’s life-work has endured centuries and is still used in popular culture today.

Dan’s #5 Musician of All Time
5. The Donnas – There’s just something about these lady rockers that I can’t get enough of.  Do I care that their lyrics are all about getting wasted and partying?  No, not at all.  After all, they’ve got quite a number of albums under their belt.  We heard them turn 21; we watched them get skintight; we spent the night with them.  After parting ways with Atlantic Records, they started their own record label, Purple Feather Records, and released Bitchin’.  The Donnas put out fun music that you can jump around to, and sometimes that’s the best food for the soul.