Lou Reed, 1942-2013

There is not much more to say about Lou Reed than everyone else has already since word of his passing came yesterday. For so many people his work provided some of the earliest glimpses of another world that existed beyond the safe and colorless margins in which they felt trapped and penned and the opportunity of escape they revealed offered hope to both those who needed it most and to those who didn’t need it at all but felt a little better knowing that it was out there. Every “Lou Reed changed my life story” tells you more about the person whose life was changed than it does about Lou Reed, so let’s use this space to note that over the years “Lou Reed” became as much about the difficult persona, legendary impatience and the various periods during which he embraced, personified and rejected so many outrageous forms of what were then considered “alternative lifestyles” that it took up almost as much space as the “Lou Reed” who was about the work he created and the worlds he portrayed in song, which does a serious disservice to just how great the music actually was. (Here are the tunes he did with his band, a catalog that would have made him legendary even if he had stopped there.) I’m not going to belabor how impressive a legacy this is except to say two things: When a man has put together a body of work that will last long after he is gone and still provide the comfort of possibility to people who have yet to be born you have to say he did something pretty special with his time here on earth, and what happens at 2:25 in this song and runs through until the end is one of the most amazing things to ever occur in popular music. Lou Reed was 71.