Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Book: Waiting for the Man: The Life and Music of Lou Reed by Jeremy Reed (Omnibus 1994, 2015)

This is an updated version of the biography that was published in 1994 of the life and music of rock and roll legend Lou Reed.There is a brief opening of Reed's youth in an upscale Long Island home where all was not as it seemed, as his parents attempted to cure his emerging homosexuality by sending him to psychiatric hospitals where he received brutal treatment including debilitating doses of thorazine, which would eventually lead lead him to write the scalding song "Kill Your Sons" directed at his parents. After graduating from Syracuse University with a degree in literature he would cement his musical legacy by forming the legendary band The Velvet Underground, and his brief association with Andy Worhol and The Factory. After leaving the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed had a four decade long career as a wildly unpredictable solo musician from his flamboyantly gay amphetamine and alcohol addicted 1970's period which gave him the unexpected hit "Walk on the Wild Side" as well as the wildly exciting and critically panned Metal Machine Music. Ruthless songs like "Street Hassle" and "Dirt" showed that he had lost none of the rage and street commentary that had powered his songwriting in the Velvet Underground. He did an about face in the 1980's, entering into a confusing relationship with Sylvia Morales, eventually marrying her and buying a large plot of land in New Jersey. Author Jeremy Reed believes that the music Reed made in the early to mid 1980's was the weakest of his career, only to be redeemed by a stunning trio of albums at the turn of the decade: his solo albums New York and Magic and Loss and Songs for Drella a collaboration with his former bandmate John Cale. This period is deftly and enthusiastically described in detail, as is Reed's experimental work that followed it, The Raven, a music and poetry examination of the life of Edgar Allan Poe, Berlin Live, a recapitulation of his critically slammed 1973 album, Hudson River Meditation, an ambient album for Tai Chi, and finally Lulu, the unlikely pairing of Lou Reed and Metallica. Jeremy Reed does a fine job in describing the life of a notoriously prickly and difficult character. He balances reporting on the music and Reed's difficult and at times contradictory personal life. This is a well done biography and is recommended to rock and roll fans. Waiting for the Man: The Life and Music of Lou Reed -

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