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Sep 112014
 

lou-reed300October 27, 2013 – On this day Lou Reed moved on to that Rock and Roll Paradise in the Sky at age 71. The concert tonight will be minimalist, because it was the Velvet Underground front man who once claimed that a One Chord song was fine, using two chords was being on the edge of Rock and Roll and if you played 3 chords, you were into Jazz!

As famous riffs go it is said that Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” is the world’s most recognized guitar riff. If you ask me that honor would have to go to Keith Richard’s “Satisfaction”, even though my personal favorite is “In-a-Gadda-da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly and even Metallica’s “Enter the Sandman” could compete for the honors. BUT… I will always and anywhere and immediately recognize the opening lick for Velvet Underground’s “Heroin” in that monotone rhythmic beat of the open D tone.

As a teenager/guitarist in Holland in the early 60s I quickly moved from the Beatles, Stones, Yardbirds and Animals across the pond in my search for different. Leonard Cohen brought some of the coffee shop poetry into my musical palette, Dylan captivated my political and societal formation process, but Lou Reed filled a niche of darkness, carelessness and anger that expressed perfectly the mood of the sixties before Haight/Ashbury’s flower power. Reed’s compositions were provoking and challenging and part of a mindset controlled by a deep need to be contrarian and unexpecting.

Lou Reed was never my greatest inspiration, yet I may have been a reclusive member of a very small and exclusive group in Amsterdam that had vinyl records by Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground. To Lou Reed’s credit, Brian Eno once famously noted about Lou Reed’s massive influence on grunge, punk and other musical forms: “Velvet Underground’s first album only sold 10,000 copies, but every one who purchased the album started a band.”

No doubt that New York’s Greenwich Village, the Andy Warhol pop art cult and the grandmaster ‘managing’ the Velvet Underground have largely contributed to Lou Reed’s long term rock status into this century. Warhol was in my opinion more a visionary of human manipulation than a magically talented artist, but when he added beautiful German born model Nico (1938-1988) as singer to the album Velvet Underground & Nico,  he established himself as an artistic genius and Lou Reed and Velvet Underground as a musical force that had momentum far beyond instrumental talent.

Enjoy your welcome concert tonight Lou, we’ll miss you here, but you left us a great legacy of work to enjoy for the remainder of our years. The world has lost an original, but rock and roll paradise welcomed another rock God.

 

To say the least, this song was highly controversial when it came out considering it is about transvestites who come to NYC for prostitution. They would say to their potential customers, “Take a walk on the wild side!” Lou Reed once said about the song: “I always thought it would be fun to introduce people to characters they maybe hadn’t met before, or hadn’t wanted to meet.” What an amazing storyteller and lyrical genius Lou Reed was. 

Try to find another song from this time period where the artist talks so openly about subjects such as oral sex, transvestites, and drug use, there weren’t very many others. He was writing about things in a style that, frankly, almost no other artist at that time would even consider writing or singing about. Lou was well before his time, and has inspired countless artists from all genres. What a classic, classic song! Still no song like it to this day. What artist other than ‘New York Lou’ could get away with lyrics like: “And the colored girls go doo do doo, doo do doo, doo do doo”?! The lyrics are way too clever and fun not to post in the description so here they are:

Lyrics:

Holly came from Miami, F.L.A.
Hitch-hiked her way across the U.S.A.
Plucked her eyebrows on the way
Shaved her legs and then he was a she
She says, ‘Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side’
He said, ‘Hey honey, take a walk on the wild side’

Candy came from out on the island
In the backroom she was everybody’s darlin’
But she never lost her head
Even when she was giving head
She says, ‘Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side’
He said, ‘Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side’

And the colored girls go
Doo do doo, doo do doo, doo do doo

Little Joe never once gave it away
Everybody had to pay and pay
A hustle here and a hustle there
New York City’s the place where they said
‘Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side’
I said, ‘Hey Joe, take a walk on the wild side’

Sugar plum fairy came and hit the streets
Lookin’ for soul food and a place to eat
Went to the Apollo, you should’ve seen ’em go go go
They said, ‘Hey sugar, take a walk on the wild side’
I said, ‘Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side’
Alright, huh

Jackie is just speeding away
Thought she was James Dean for a day
Then I guess she had to crash
Valium would have helped that bash
She said, ‘Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side’
I said, ‘Hey honey, take a walk on the wild side’

And the colored girls say
Doo do doo, doo do doo, doo do doo