Totally side-swiped by the news of Lou Reed’s death. We drove down the country with an hour of Tom Robinson’s 6 Music tributes and then I listened to ‘Retro’, the 1989 compilation that first turned me on to him. As the night goes on, I feel more and more deflated.
The Velvet Underground and Lou Reed meant and mean a great deal to me. The cliche of discovering ‘The Velvet Underground and Nico’ and ‘White Light/White Heat’ as an 18 year old, passed like contraband between university students, does nothing to lessen their impact.
As a young man, in some ways I defined my music taste (and by direct extension my sense of self) by what it stood against. I held the Velvets against the Beatles, against the Stones, against the Beach Boys, against the whole damned lot of them. For a long, long time, the Velvet Underground were the only pre-1977 records I adored. Now there are many more, but the others weren’t there when it mattered.
I looked back to Lou Reed, but he felt like one of mine. Now, 25 years after, after many more have lodged themselves in my heart, it strikes me and strikes me hard that Lou Reed and his band are the ones I built my foundations on. Him, his band and the bands that tried to follow them. I may have come to him via his acolytes, but for everything that he and his band produced, for the torrents of influence that flowed from them for generations to follow, Lou Reed made me.