On the death of Lou Reed

Written on October 31st, 2013 by Edward

So, I heard Lou Reed Died this week…

This is Honestly the first time in my entire life I’ve actually been sad that someone died. I mean I’ve been sad when things have died before…Mostly pets I’ve had. I still miss my dog Order sometimes. She was a great dog, one of the few creatures that I’ve ever encountered that I truely knew “loved” me. But never have I been sad when a person died prior to now.

I’m not incredibly sad mind you. Not slitting my wrists, while listening to the smiths sad….but regardless still sad. An odd sad really. A selfish sad. A lingering, questioning, selfish sadness I guess.

Still, its had some sort of affect on me. So that in itself is weird for me.

All of my grand parents are dead, various friends I’ve had through my life are gone, an insane amount of “loves”, countless of aquaintances…etc…But never has it really even come close to bumming me out. Not even remotely close.
I don’t know whether that says some sort of terrible thing about me as a person, or not. I’m sure it speaks to my character in some way though. Maybe I’m just a terrible person that doesn’t really care about other people? Maybe I just don’t even see existence as a real thing? Maybe I just view all this as temporary, in far to realistic of a way? I dunno…

Is it bad that I genuinely couldn’t care any less about the deaths of my grandparents?

Or friends?

That’s probably bad.

I care about people. I do. But I can see the upside for most people in death. It ends alot of problems really.

I mean no one that’s not trying to be overtly dramatic cares about random aquainances…But grandparents?

Most people probably care about that….But I really don’t.

Not that I didn’t like them…they were all fine. I have fond memories of all of them…it just doesn’t matter much to me.

My (last living) grandmother died, just a few months ago…and my honest thought when I found out was “well, its about time. She was super old after all. So good for her. It’s over. No more dealing with bullshit. She’s done. She had a long life. Good for her. I hope my mom and sister aren’t too bummed out about this. They really don’t need any extra shit to deal with right now.”

An thats truely how I feel when most people die. I worry about the people around them sure…But I don’t agonize over the loss of the person that’s gone. They’re gone. No amount of saddness will change that. All I can do is think about what they meant to mean, what they taught me…and hope I learned the right things from them….Well that and worring that their death doesn’t fuck up anyone else I care about too much.

That makes sense to me.

They’ve lived their life, and accomplished what they were supposed to accomplish….or at the very least, if they led a bad life, served as a lesson to those smart few around them, as a subject of what NOT to be in life.

You either live a great life, and inspire those around you to be a better person (as my grandmother did for me), or you live a terrible life, and serve as a lesson of what NOT to be in your existence (as so many others have done, for me). But when you’re dead, you’re gone, and its nothing to be sad about. You did what you did, and it either helped someone or hurt someone…but either way, it changed someone…for the better or worse…and nothing can change that.

Some people are meant to live their lives to be amazing and pure, and to basically wake you up and say “You are selfish, and unkind. You will only be around awhile. Time to stop fucking around and be good to those you care about.” While other’s are around to point out the opisite to you and say “You’re not as terrible as you think you are. Some are far worse than you. So even though you fuck up here and there, at least you’re not as bad as I am. At least you didn’t Burn down the house/Kill your land lord/eat that pickle you found on the ground outside the gas station/piss on the toilet paper in the public bathroom/didn’t stab your neighbor and steal their copy of newsweek/etc…”… People are just around to serve as a lesson of right or wrong to those that survive them…The people you know personally at least.

So there’s no reason to be sad when they’re gone. They’ve served their purpose, helped you and others to grow as a person. Realize you’re better than you thought, or force to you realize your faults, and make you strive to become a semi-decent human being…

But not your “Hero’s”….Thats different…

Lou Reed dieing is like a slap in the face to my entire reality…I’ve only got a handful of “Hero’s” in my entire life. Lou Reed, David Bowie, Iggy Popp, Robert Smith, Billy Corgan, and my Father…
Seeing that any one of them is just as real and human as me, is…I dunno….fucking insulting to my incredibly retarded view of the world.

I have no idea what I’m supposed to learn from any of them…not really…Maybe that’s the point? Maybe other people have “hero’s” for different reasons? Maybe it’s obvious to everyone else? I have no idea.

Lou Reed was the first person that said to me “You can write songs, you can make your own music, you can be different, you can do something without worrying about whats popular. You can be you,” before any other musician/artist/Person ever did…Not because he did anything first, and obviously not because he ever said anything to me…I never met the man……but because I found him before I found anyone else. Before I listened to Hunky Dory, Before I paid attention to the cure, before I realized my father was a wise man, before I realized siamese dream meant something in my life…

The Velvet Underground was MY idea of what perfection was. Before anything else was.

Listening to the first Velvets Album for the first time, finding it randomly at a record store, buying that CD cause I thought the name was cool…and expecting something completely different than what I got…was what opened my entire conciousness to the idea that I could actually do THAT. That I could be a professional musician. That I could be an artist. That I could do something DIFFERENT. I could do whatever the fuck I wanted.
If they could release the Nico album in 1967, and be disliked, at the height of the stupid hippy peace love and “let all fuck and hope for the best” “revolution”, and have no critical response (not even negative), and have no one care….only to release three more albums…and influence countless other musicians…Then who the fuck could tell ME that I couldn’t do whatever I wanted?

Sure it might not ever become popular. I might not ever make a dime. I might Languish in nothingness forever, under a bridge. Die alone, as a no one, and NEVER change a thing. Never make a difference. Never do ANYTHING anyone cares about………But, I’d still be doing SOMETHING. Something far more important than working any service job, working any factory job, doing anything I could ever learn in college, I’d still be speaking in my own voice, regardless of the voice that was popular, regardless of what people found acceptable, regardless of what made any fucking sense.

I’d still be speaking to someone…

…like they did to me…

…like countless others…

…I might die in nothingness…

But, (and this is a big but)…

…I might also help someone…

…somewhere down the line…

…some day….

…maybe…

…Just maybe…

…it might matter…

Even if it was far to late for me to enjoy it…Even if it’d be way to late for any recognition…even if it’d be way to late for anyone to ever care, or notice…it wouldn’t matter. Because, it doesn’t matter…and never did anyways.

And that effected my entire world view…From the first note of “sunday Morning”…until the last note of…whatever song I hear at the end of my life…

Nothing matters…

Money doesn’t matter…

Recognition doesn’t matter…

Happiness doesn’t matter…

Emptiness doesn’t matter…

Dreams, don’t matter…

Love doesn’t matter…

Final goodbyes, don’t matter…

Nothing, Matters…

All that matters, is being true to yourself.

Whatever that is.

Some people have to follow the flow of society, and the trends, and be part of the crowd. Thats who they are. To be true to themselves, they have to follow. And that’s perfectly fine. Some of my favorite people are trendy, and listen to whatever the radio tells them to, and fit into the mainstream. And I’ll love them for it just the same.
And some of my favorite people will never fit in, no matter where they go. No matter how underground. No matter how far from the mainstream. No matter how subversive. No matter how weird. They’ll always be an outsider…And I’ll love them for it just the same.

Other’s split the difference in the middle. Sorta inside. Sorta out. They fit in when it works. Then linger in the shadows when it doesn’t. They have anxiety in an empty room. But fit in, in a crowd. Simple in the middle, and complex at the bottom…Always being weird, but not weird enough to ride with the geeks…and a bit to weird to really stay with norms….And, I’ll love them just the same.

Because none of that really matters.

That’s what Lou Reed and the Velvets taught me…

None of the bullshit matters…

When you think about it in context, it makes sense…1967 is when “& Nico” came out…But who knows when “Heroin” or “waiting for the man” was really writen? ’65, ’66…It doesn’t matter. They could have been written a decade later, and still not fit in with what was ‘ok’.
They were written from the outside…Not even outside the window of the house of normalcy, and happiness and simplicity…Not even from the outside of fame, and fortune, and admiration…but from outside the entire world where that shit even existed…They were written in a world where none of that shit mattered. Where all that mattered was being true. Being what you are. Being WHO you are. Speaking in your own voice. Even if it meant you’d sink into the shadow’s, fall to the bottom, twist around the drain like a million gross matted hairs, fall through the pipes and ride on a wave of shit to the sewage treatment plant, just to fade into nothingness with the condoms, syringes, and tampons, like the worthless refuse we are.
And all of the people involved were totally ok with that. It wasn’t about being a famous rockstar for them, it wasn’t about being a millionaire….It was about being true to themselves….Sure they had the backing of Andy Warhol…But so what?…Warhol wouldn’t have Latched onto them, if there wasn’t some true sense of selfish, greedy, narcicistic artistry there…The Velvets were what they were, because they didn’t give a fuck. And Lou?…

Lou at his best, was who he was because he really didn’t give a fuck, he knew better (listen to metal machine music, or Lulu and tell me he cares about comerical success)…An neither should anyone else…

I don’t know what anyone else got, or gets, out of the Velvets Catalogue….or gets out of Lou’s solo catalogue…..My favorite album in the entire world is “Berlin”…an alot of people tell me its a terrible album…

But this whole thing, is what I get out of all of the Velvets work, and the Best of Lou’s work…

Lou didn’t give a fuck, not in a reasonable, normal way at least…

…Neither should anyone else…if they’re true to themselves…

Sure, like everyone else…I’m sure Lou wanted people to like his work, Who wouldn’t?

I’m sure he wanted people to like his albums, and his idea’s.

But wanting someone to like you, is alot different than trying to make them like you…

The Velvets never TRIED to make anyone like them.

Lou as an artist (solo, or otherwise) sure as fuck never tried to make you like him.

You either did, or you didn’t…but my opionion, your opionion, everyone else’s opinion, fucking BOWIES/Eno’s/Smiths/etc… opionion, etc…wouldn’t change what he did….Lou was Lou regardless of what anyone thought, or liked…He was always lou….

Thats why I own every Lou Reed album….

I won’t lie and say I like all of them. I don’t drive around listening to Lulu, or Metal Machine music….But from what I’ve read, neither did Lou. (from all accounts I’ve read, he never listened to his own albums either…and why would anyone in their right mind listen to something they made? That’s ridiculous).

Some of them are down right fucking awful. But, I’ve listened to all of them start to finish. Because it’s inspirational to me. It’s one of the things that keeps me going some days. All of those albums remind me that, we’re all flawed….Especially us artists…We’re all fucked up…Sometimes we make a beautiful symphony of soupy goodness, and everyone at the table wants to chow down on our awesome beef stew….an then other times we sorta fart into a milk jug, then pour it into a cup, and then sorta puke on the spoons, in sight of everyone, then cautiously ask everyone if they’re ready to eat?…Someone will always be polite and say they’re down with fart and puke soup…but no one really wants it…

…But thats fine…

Because, sometimes we fuck up…Everyone…No matter how perfect…no matter how talented…Sometimes we ALL fuck up…Lou Reed and Bob Dylan have both writen shitty songs, and grandma, and (whoever is a great famous chef) have both made some fucking god awful soup…sometimes the thing that burns your heart, and saves your soul from eternal damnation, or suicide…is someone else’s fart and vomit soup…Or fucking awful song…that’s fine…it doesn’t matter…Because it served it’s purpose…it saved YOU that time…
Other times, its the beauty of something perfect that hits you just right…Somedays its “Pale Blue eyes” by Lou, or “Quicksand” By Bowie…Some day’s its the perfect sandwich made by the artist that gets no recognition at subway…Sometimes it’s the barber that perfectly trims you’re nasty matted locks…and other times its just some old drunk on the bus that falls down at just the right time….

The contrast between the worst soup that sank to your belly and reminded you of your best childhood memory, to the best the story they wrote that makes you dream of christmas, to the picture they painted that makes you wish it was winter, to thejoke they tell that makes you forget about your bad day, to the insult they make that makes you question your existance………..

….is all that matters…

…Sometimes, you write just the right words, with just the right notes, and everyone else in the band fits in perfectly…and the song means NOTHING to you, its just random garbage, meant to fill space…but then that song, slips into the right person’s ear, and lets them know, they’re not alone…and fixes something else, far away from anything you ever intended…and that’s all that matters…it served it’s purpose…

…Other times it does nothing, and no one cares…when all you wanted was for someone to give a shit…

…And it just doesn’t matter either way…

…and thats just fine…

…No one knows what the purpose is…No one should….

…artists (esspeically musicians) are self absorbed, narcicistic fucks…I know I am…we have to be really….we like to think we’re much more important than we are…and It’s great to think “my song might save someone someday”…but It’s even greater to think “This song doesn’t matter at all…but fuck it, I’m gonna do this anyways…cause fuck you world…You’re ugly too, and I think I should inflict somemore ugly on you…”…It’s amazing to let go…

…and know it doesn’t matter…

…to know that you’ll never make a differnce…

…never change a thing…

…never save anyone…

…not even yourself…

…and do it anyways…

…And that’s what Lou Reed gave me. He gave me the ability to say “Fuck it”, in the best possible way.

Those that understand that, you’ll get it.
Those that don’t, nothing I could ever say would make it make anymore more sense than this does.

I’m sure I’m a terrible person, for not caring about my grandmother dieing, or my grandfather…or my friends Overdosing, or commiting suicide…but they all served their purpose. They taught me something. They taught someone I care about something. They showed someone that life is short, and meaningless, and that we should do our best to do whatever we think matters the most before we die. That makes death acceptable. To me at least.

It’s good to see people go onto, whatever comes next. To be able to make a difference (no matter how insignificant), to Something else.

— Edward

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