All Songs Considered
3:06 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

10 Memories Of Lou Reed

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 3:31 pm

Earlier this week, after the passing of Lou Reed, we asked you to tell us what his music means to you. Here are 10 of our favorites (along with some of our favorite songs) out of the many memories we received.


"As a friend recently phrased it, 'When you get into Lou Reed as a teenager, it makes you weird forever.' When I was 15 in '96, I stumbled ona cassette tape of Transformer. I'd never heard anything like it. It (along with Radiohead's The Bends) was my introduction to music that was out of the mainstream. When my friends were getting into The Verve Pipe and 311, I was exploring David Bowie and The Clash. I'm glad that Lou Reed made me weird forever." - Tyler Clark

"I was frightened after 9-11. I lived on the Island, and used to drive in to see my friend in the Village. There were armored vehicles outside the Midtown Tunnel and soldiers with rifles. You felt like someone was going to blow something up any minute. I was scared every time I saw a plane. I used to play the Set The Twilight Reeling album, and every time I hit the tunnel, I'd blast "NYC Man," and even thought I wasn't one, I felt like it would be okay if I died while that song was playing. The moment, at the end of "Trade In," when the guitar kicks in, that's ecstasy." - Sean Llewellyn

"I learned of Lou Reed in the back of my older brother's used junker car (I can't remember what make) in 1973. It was late, dark, and I was tired. 'Walk On The Wild Side' sashayed through the speakers, and my 13 year-old, underdeveloped brain came immediately to attention. Lou wrote and sang about the complexities of human existence made plain through a variety of characters that peeled a layer from himself to varying degrees. They offered despair, hope, love, hate, jealousy, joy, madness, addiction, remorse, anger, pity, tenderness, vanity, lust, compassion, etcetera. For me, these characters laid bare the essence of who each and every one of us is. Much like Dostoevsky, Lou painted his characters with a nuanced brush overloaded with every shade of grey. Nothing is as it seems and everyone is everything." - Tom Common

"I met my best friends in college over the Velvet Underground & Nico record. Who can forget the first time they ever heard the lyrics, 'When I put a spike into my vein' and 'When I'm rushing on my run, and I feel just like Jesus' son?' Jump forward to 1992. I was waiting outside the 96th Street Y in New York City to see Lou Reed read from his book of lyrics Between Thought and Expression when a woman offered me a ticket for free. She turned out to be one of the coolest people I've ever met, who later showed me the "real" New York, but also she was Lou Reed's editor for the book. During the reading, Reed spoke about going to Prague in 1989, meeting Vaclav Havel, and how his music had been important there in the real underground. After the show, the woman, took me back stage to meet Lou, shake his hand and say something stupid ('Hi, I'm Lou,' and me, 'Yeah, I know...') and I couldn't think of anything else to say which was good, because if I'd have opened my mouth again I'd have probably drooled. But we were both wearing leather jackets so it was OK. Before that, Prague had been just another one of those cities "over there" but not a year later I was on a plane to Prague and have never left. Other than that minute or so that I met him I only know him through the music, and unfortunately I no longer know the wonderful person who introduced me to him. But I miss them both. My life is different because of them, in all the best ways." - Alan Thomas

"In the early '80s, my generation was asking, 'Where did punk and new wave come from?' Then we listened to the Velvets and the Stooges. Then we said, 'Oh, that's where it came from.'" - Dwain Dolan

"Lou Reed turned my head when I was in college. His lyrics gave dignity to people who didn't fit in in one way or another. It was almost like Reed was talking to me personally. And in the late '70s, nobody else I knew had even heard of The Velvet Underground. So, playing their records in my dorm room late at night was almost a spiritual experience. We've just lost a great one. - Peter

"Lou Reed taught me that there is beauty in difference. In fact, it's the most beautiful thing in the world." - Alex Niculescu

"By the time I discovered Lou Reed, 'Walk on the Wild Side' had become a staple of the classic rock station in my hometown. Transformer was one of the burned CDs that I routinely listened to on my long, windy drive between college and home, and cemented a relationship-turned-marriage that is centered, in large part, around a mutual love of music. While sitting in his dorm room, my now husband started playing something by Lou Reed or the Velvets and I declared, 'I love Lou Reed!' This was serendipitous because [the] summer before we met, [my husband] thought, 'Wouldn't it be great to meet a girl who loved Lou Reed?' Today, when we heard the news, we assumed a position we have taken many times before: together, on the couch, we listened to Lou Reed's raspy voice, not saying anything, just taking in the familiar songs." - Elena Sabin

"For me, it means discovery. It means sitting in an old dorm room listening to the "banana" album with naïve ears and an open mind. It means having a soundtrack for the first year of college, just as [you're] discovering new friends and, ultimately, yourself. The [Velvet Underground] was one of the first bands I really got into as I was beginning my musical journey, and I still have great respect for them, Lou Reed, and their music." - Vanessa Risti

"I walked through the woods with him. My best friend, who passed away almost a year ago, used to sing the Velvet all the time in the woods. We learned the words. And from then on, I was hooked. He never left me on 'Sunday Mornings.' And if you listen to the words of that song - for all he did for art, New York, music, I think you have his homage." - Susan Flaherty

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