What Lou Reed means to me

The way I discovered Lou Reed may have not been that unique, as I learned about his first band, the Velvet Underground, through other bands covering them. I first heard “There She Goes Again,” “Pale Blue Eyes,” and “Femme Fetale” after listening to R.E.M.’s Dead Letter Office. I had to find out more about about the Velvet Underground, but as a teenager living in Fayetteville, N.C. in the late 80s,  it was difficult to discover music that wasn’t on MTV (which was banned in my house), and where identifying with heavy metal and rap was the social, acceptable teenage norm.

After reading an interview with Peter Buck where he said he and Michael Stipe first bonded after listening to The Velvet Underground, I quickly bought every Velvet Underground album I could find. Little did I know that years later I would live most of my adult life in Charlotte, N.C. and record in the same studio, Reflections Sound, where R.E.M. recorded two of their arguably greatest records, and where they drunkenly recorded those three Velvet Underground songs.

In college, my first band called Pete Gorgeous tried to employ noise-rock with cheap, available instruments betwixt a love for the Velvet Underground and an 80s brand of Love and Rocket’s psychedelia. We often covered the noisy side of Velvet Underground and my bassist often shouted from the stage “Lou Reed is Jay’s dad!”

To make a long story of discovery short, I grew increasingly fascinated with the whole Warhol scene, reading, listening and watching as much about that time as I could. I even wrote a song about it on Poprocket’s 2nd EP Indie Rot. “Hey, Andy!” was a song written to try to figure out why Lou Reed stayed as long as he did in Andy Warhol’s court. I think I wrote this song because my mind was blown when I realized what the Campbell’s Soup print meant: that a lot of abstract art, or “soup,” isn’t art at all – it’s paint.

I was delighted when Justin Fedor (of New Familiars) asked me to be a part of a Lou Reed tribute for the Levine Children’s hospital (This Saturday, Feb. 1 at The Neighborhood Theatre). Not only is my new band The-Eyebrows debuting near the 10:00 p.m. mark, but I’m also in the house band singing a few verses! Check out the video we made!

So, I think Lou Reed means EVERYTHING to me. If Andy Warhol didn’t discover Lou Reed, his music may have never been heard and the world would have been a very different place. His songs conjure up so many memories, as I was often singing them to my friends. I haven’t nearly touched on the many things I’ve wanted to cover in this blog, but why tell the whole story? Hell, Lester Bangs would have never been my favorite writer if it were not for his love/hate relationship with Lou Rood (please read “Let us now praise famous death dwarves, or how I slugged it out with Lou Reed and stayed awake”). I think Lou would say, it doesn’t matter. None of it does.

Thanks for reading – and I hope to see you on Feb. 1 if you are in Charlotte!

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