David Bowie

Lou Reed

On October 27th at 11:46 AM, I opened a text that said “Lou Reed died”.  After reading it, I immediately felt a plunge in my chest and realized I was actually crying.  I knew I loved Lou Reed but I had no idea how much he meant to my life until I read that text message.  The only other artists I’ve ever cried for are Etta James and Elliott Smith.  Elliott Smith’s death hit me like a sledgehammer; I opened the newspaper and saw a picture of him in his white suit on the upper corner of the front page.  In excitement, I turned to the article and was completely blindsided in the middle of my High School Economics class as I read he’d stabbed himself in the heart twice.  Amid all of the dates I can’t remember, I have never forgotten Elliott Smith died on October 21, 2003.

My interests swim all over the place.  I pick up a hobby, hang out with it for a while and then drop it and move on.  I’ve always been this way, just bouncing around trying to learn a little about everything because I’m interested in more than I can squish in to this life.  Music is one of the very few things in my life that I’ve stuck with since the moment I realized how much I truly needed it and never has there been a moment when it wasn’t entirely significant to my well-being.  It took me a while to summon the proper words for Lou Reed because he has been a major part of my growth as a person and as a music lover, and I still don’t know where to start.

When you live the most vulnerable part of your life with your emotions on the front line infantry, you’re inevitably going to have some internal scarring.  Thus far in my emotional journey, I can count on one hand, the bands/artists that have truly nurtured the wounds suffered on that battlefield and The Velvet Underground is one of them.
During a miserable bout of a “what does it all mean” crisis in my late teens/early twenties (before you could just downloaded music from home), I came across a copy of The Velvet Underground’s Loaded Fully Loaded Edition at a local record store.  Since that day, I have never once considered removing them from my Top 5.   For days, maybe even a couple of weeks, I listened the Ride in to the Sun and Sad Song demos and felt my entire life fold into and around itself.

Unfortunately, while I do enjoy Reed’s solo work (who couldn’t love Transformer and Berlin), my love lies in the late 60’s and early 70’s VU albums.  Candy Says, Stephanie Says, Louise, Pale Blue Eyes, I Found a Reason, I’m Set Free, Who Loves the Sun, Sunday Morning… the list just goes on an on.  These are songs I have worn out, made terrible life decisions to and redeemed myself to.  I feel like the Velvet Underground has been playing in the background of my life since I first let them into my weird little world.
Lou Reed made sense in the fog of drugs and liquor, in the loneliness and depression of solitude and introversion and in moments of absolute joy and bliss.  His music is like an emotional chameleon that promises comfort and understanding because his pain is your pain and his words are your life.   And I still feel this way.  There isn’t a single emotion that can’t be emphasized by listening to the poetry of his own experiences.

The musicians he influenced and the music he has inspired are endless lists of amazing talent.  To think that without Lou Reed there would be no David Bowie (another top fiver), I can’t even imagine what sort of turmoil my emotions would be in.  But still, in spite of all of his glory and his inspiration, one of greatest things about Lou Reed is that he somehow always manged to hold on to that “cool guy” persona that he greeted the music world with.
He remained ageless with the greats that died young like Hendrix and Joplin.  The name Lou Reed never drew to a mind a picture of an aged musician struggling to be hip.  Just sunglasses and a black jacket.  Lou Reed was a rare bird that glided gracefully across the generations and his significance remains untouched by time just like Johnny Cash and Hunter S. Thompson.  He was a pillar of the music world and the hole left by his death is as significant as the torch lit by his life.

The generation of music that truly changed music is slowly beginning to crumble and break apart and it’s incredibly painful to watch and experience. But like great literature, there will be those that refuse to be forgotten and Lou Reed lives among them.

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If I Was Famous, This Would Be More Interesting

I didn’t feel like a total loser for doing this until I realized I spent the past half-hour putting this together and duplicating it on Grooveshark (for no one) on a Saturday night.  I see no reason in not following through with it at this point.
In light of my recent 80’s music binge, I’ve put together a short playlist of 80’s music and 80’s inspired music.

 
tonight

 

You can listen to it here.
Enjoy your Saturday night with or without this.

Top 5 For December 2012

I have completed my top 5 list for the end of 2012.  In no specific order (because a top 5 is hard enough):

1. David Bazan/Perdo The Lion
2. Cotton Jones
3. Otis Redding
4. The Velvet Underground
5. Cat Stevens

An honorable mention goes to Nick Drake because he has certainly hugged the top 5 for the past couple of months.
I will be working on a list for those who have played major roles in my life this past year, but for December, this are the ones who have prevented scars.

5:35 – Classics

After much deliberation, I have selected 5 classic albums that I feel only those swimming (or those who have swam) through the miseries of their twenties could truly understand.  If you haven’t reached that point yet, you will, and I’d recommend finding one of these albums and having it out with your doubts and pains.

1.  David Bowie – Hunky Dory
This album and I have had an ongoing affair for about 5 years now.  This album defines the wild and horrifying curiosities of growing up while desperately clinging to your youth. Fill Your Heart and Kooks embody the liberal values of anyone young and naive enough to believe that love and happiness are easy and free.  While Quicksand and Changes hint at the struggles of reality setting in.  This album is the “Footprints in the Sand”.
Key TracksOh! You Pretty Things, Quicksand, Life On Mars

2. Cat Stevens – Harold and Maude Soundtrack
As if the movie itself weren’t enough of a statement, the soundtrack is the force behind it.  This is unlike any other Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam album to date.  The coming-of-age roller coaster is, by far, the first horrible ride (of many to come I’m sure) and this album is targeted towards that very struggle.  There is really no way to explain the nausea from all the twists and turns until you’ve felt them.  However, fear not, this soundtrack is the Pepto-Bismol for all the embarrassing symptoms you’re sure to endure and it assures that you won’t lose sight of the importance of the small things.
Key Tracks: Trouble, Don’t Be Shy, If You Want To Sing Out 

3. Bob Marley & The Wailers – Songs of Freedom
This 3 hour album is worth every second.  During those “fantastic” teenage years, you relate to the herbal sensations of Bob Marley, but after that first apartment/reality, you begin to recognize the political clout intertwined with the entire spirit of the music.  This album diffuses the nagging cynicism that is sure to find it’s way to anyone who pays attention to the world and just how fucked up it really is.  Songs of Freedom is a very comforting reminder that kindness is never futile and life reacts to how you project yourself upon it.
Key Tracks: High Tide or Low Tide, Nice Time, Concrete Jungle

4. James Brown – It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World
Wow.  If you need justification for drinking alone, here it is.  Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World nurtures the brokenhearted while still managing to coo the hindered spirit of those learning the actuality of a relationships.   Every ounce of pain and personal torment is pumped out at full-volume and catches you before you, yourself fall in to the depths of emotional sorrow.  James’ voice can penetrate any barrier of cold-heart you’ve built from bad love.
Key Tracks:  I Don’t Mind, It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World, Is It Yes Or Is It No

5. Leonard Cohen – Songs From A Room
We have all had those nights where there is nothing to do but curl up in a ball and shake from the inside to the outside.  An entire cocoon made of every thread of self-pity you can stitch together.  This album licks those wounds with the fervor of ancient medicine men.  There is no guarantee you’ll actually feel better but you’ll certainly feel understood and less aberrant.  It’s dark, it’s gloomy and Cohen’s voice gives it that perfect edge that depression craves.
Key Tracks: The Old Revolution, The Butcher,  Lady Midnight

 

 

[This was taken from a blog I deleted, but I have a few 5:35 posts and I hope to resurrect the whole thing here on wordpress]