Lou Reed died on Sunday.
I remember hearing and seeing Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground upstairs, in some club on St. Marks street, sometime in the middle or early 60s. I was kind of expecting a hotter Bob Dylan but it was different–nastier, angrier, illogical and even hard on the ears. But things were getting nastier, angrier and harder to take as the 60s rolled on.
It was still illegal for blacks and white to marry in nearly half the states in the US. It was still illegal for gays to congregate–to simply have a beer in a bar–in New York City. It was still immoral for women to be more than wives and mothers and nurses or teachers for a few years waiting to become wives and mothers. It was just beginning to be unpatriotic to question sending troops to Vietnam. It was a time when we killed our President and a moment just before the great race riots of the later decade.
Lou Reed captured that era in his music. It was not optimistic but chaotic and dark. The Boomers came of age in that time and while they have made a mess of many things, they listened to the music and acted on it. Now they’re heading off the stage faster than the country is expecting and Gen Y is taking power faster than the country is expecting.
Lou Reed died on Sunday in Amagansett, on Long Island. Turns out I was there at his end, as well as his beginning.