ListenUp: Lou Reed Tribute

Our brief look at the iconic artist's musical legacy


Lou Reed: See That My Grave Is Kept Clean

After 71 colorful years the immensely influential musician Lou Reed (born on 2 March 1942) passed away on Sunday, 27 October 2013. Not since Elvis has rock’n’roll received such a loss, and the indelible mark this distinctly talented artist left on the world is seen in the innumerable bands he inspired, the expressive music he created both as a solo act and with The Velvet Underground, and his inspirational nature as an ultimately edgy yet joyful person. Lou Reed was the definition of cool—progressive, pensive, caring, optimistic and unafraid—and he was a friend to many and an innovator within his craft. At 12 minutes long, his haunting cover of “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” demonstrates his poetic intellect and in turn feels like a fitting goodbye to this iconic man.


The Velvet Underground: The Legendary Guitar Amp Tapes

Reed is undoubtedly most known for his visionary guitar work and in 1969 a devoted fan captured his brilliance by recording The Velvet Underground’s 13-song set at Boston’s short-lived, experimental concert venue, the Boston Tea Party. Reportedly, the fan recorded the tracks directly from Reed’s guitar amplifier which rendered the vocals almost inaudible, and the result is nearly two hours of beautifully intense strumming known as “The Legendary Guitar Amp Tapes.” Hear the cult-favorite bootleg in its entirety via YouTube.


The Velvet Underground & Nico: I’ll Be Your Mirror

In lieu of a musical guilty pleasure this week, we looked to the other aspect of our two-fold PrivateJam series; a deeply personal tune. One of music’s most revered critics, the New Yorker’s Sasha Frere-Jones, penned a deeply heartfelt postscript about Lou Reed, which began with how Reed inspired him to propose to his wife. He explains, “I handed over a small mirror with a handwritten note, which said only, ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror.’” The song, featuring Warhol superstar Nico, shows the band’s softer side and their incredible effect on the world beyond the realms of music. And as SFJ notes, Reed told the NY Times in 1998 that out of hundreds of songs, “Mirror” was his favorite tune too.


Lou Reed & Laurie Anderson: Halloween Parade

Lou Reed is survived by his wife, the multifarious artist and musician Laurie Anderson. The pair often performed together, and the holiday-appropriate video of their Parisian performance of “Halloween Parade” showcases their unique collaborative energy. Anderson’s just-published, tear-inducing obituary for Reed elegantly outlines their relationship: “Lou was a prince and a fighter and I know his songs of the pain and beauty in the world will fill many people with the incredible joy he felt for life. Long live the beauty that comes down and through and onto all of us.”


Lou Reed: Walk On The Wild Side

Produced by David Bowie, “Walk On The Wild Side“—from his second solo album Transformer—is one of Reed’s biggest mainstream successes. The epically irreverent 1972 track speaks to so much of his life’s widespread interests: New York City, curious adventures, harmoniously complex guitar work, jazz, English literature (the song was developed for a Nelson Algren novel), doo-wop, Warhol and more. Reed’s music has the uncanny ability to be both appreciated at surface level but even more greatly admired with a deeper inspection. His humble attitude and singular genius make him an eternal benchmark for all.

ListenUp is a Cool Hunting series published every Sunday that takes a deeper look at the music we tweeted about that week. Often we’ll include a musician or notable fan’s surprising personal interests—#PrivateJam exposes their musical guilty pleasure.