My summary of Lou Reed's solo work, which was published on facebook but is
either downloadable here or you can read it
in the box.net preview pane:
Uncle Dave Lewis
On Wed, Oct 30, 2013 at 3:20 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>wrote:
> And the following was in today's Wall Street Journal:
> The United States of Lou ReedThe United States of Lou Reed
> Sometimes rock 'n' roll can accomplish more to promote freedom than
> translating the Federalist Papers.
> By David Feith, And Bari Weiss
> It is somehow fitting that rock star Lou Reed died Sunday, in this season
> of American national angst over government shutdowns, mounting debt and
> declining influence abroad. That's because the Velvet Underground frontman
> not only motivated Václav Havel and the Czechoslovak dissidents who
> challenged their Communist rulers and helped bring down the Soviet Union.
> He also demonstrated why, for all we hear about Washington's sclerosis, it
> is still smart to bet on America in this century as in the last.
> Not that Reed himself would have put it this way. Starting in the
> mid-1960s, his lyrics about urban life, drugs and sexuality made him one of
> rock's leading transgressives. Later he lambasted the concept of the
> American dream ("Give me your hungry, your tired, your poor I'll piss on
> 'em/That's what the Statue of Bigotry says") and railed against New York
> Mayor Rudy Giuliani and the religious right. In recent years, he supported
> Occupy Wall Street and performed in Israel, even as some of his left-wing
> contemporaries boycotted the Jewish state.
> But whatever his personal politics, Reed's music took on a life of its own
> behind the Iron Curtain. In the 1970s Czechoslovakia's anti-Communist
> movement coalesced around a Velvet Underground-inspired rock group called
> the Plastic People of the Universe. The Communist government branded the
> rockers enemies of the state for their long hair, crazy outfits, secret
> concerts and anti-authority lyrics.
> Playwright Václav Havel documented their trial and imprisonment in 1976,
> then published the "Charter 77" human-rights manifesto and eventually led
> the Velvet Revolution against Communism in 1989. The name derived partly
> from Reed's band, Havel later said. And when the two men met in 1990, Havel
> told him, "Do you know I am president because of you?"
> As far as we know, Lou Reed didn't get up in the morning thinking about
> how he could overthrow the Soviet Union. But his story reminds us that rock
> 'n' roll can sometimes inadvertently accomplish more to promote freedom
> than translating the Federalist Papers. In unfree societies, free
> expression-whether from Lou Reed or Lady Gaga-is subversive in itself.
> Consider apartheid South Africa and the unlikely story of Rodriguez, an
> early-1970s folk singer in Detroit who achieved no fame in the U.S. but
> immense popularity among white, anti-apartheid activists thousands of miles
> away. His blunt lyrics about sex won him young South African listeners, as
> did his claim that "This system's gonna fall soon, to an angry young
> tune/And that's a concrete cold fact." The system that fell was South
> Africa's, where the government tried to keep Rodriguez's music off the
> radio and out of stores, with official censors sometimes scratching his LPs
> by hand.
> The music of Reed and Rodriguez reinforced an appreciation for the
> critical divide between closed and open societies. Free societies like the
> United States-where one can write songs such as "The Establishment Blues"
> or even "F*** tha Police" without fear of hearing a knock on the door in
> the dead of night-create an endless stream of material that can wield
> outsize power in rigid, unfree countries.
> When the Soviets sent tanks to crush the "Prague Spring" in August 1968,
> they couldn't have imagined that the crackdown would spur the formation of
> an absurdist rock band capable of stoking two decades of popular political
> protest. But Communist leaders knew that their hold on power was always
> tenuous. Otherwise they wouldn't have built a police state to monitor and
> restrain their people.
> So it is today, as regimes try to tamp down the contemporary analogues to
> the Plastic People of the Universe. In Vladimir Putin's Russia, two members
> of the punk-rock collective Pussy Riot now sit in prison, guilty of
> "hooliganism." In Turkmenistan, the popular singer Maksat Kakabaev, known
> as Maro, served in a penal colony for two years. In Belarus, Europe's last
> dictatorship, the rocker Miron was accused of creating political unrest and
> forced into military service. And in Iran, "Samira," a female rapper,
> sings: "Captive and prisoners behind the dark walls/ We know our destiny to
> In July, Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari pointed to
> the Internet, movies and satellite TV as "tools" of the West's "soft war"
> against the Islamic Republic. Last month, the Revolutionary Guard took his
> cue, rounding up hundreds of satellite dishes in the city of Shiraz and
> crushing them with a tank. On some, the regime had written "satellite
> dishes are treason."
> No matter how many satellite dishes the ayatollahs confiscate, or how many
> Internet connections they jam, as Lou Reed put it in a 1987 song, just two
> years before the Velvet Revolution: "I hear the voices of freedom from the
> left/ I hear the voices of freedom from the right/I hear the voices of
> freedom, babe, from all over this world."
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Justin Lemons" <
> [log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 2:43 PM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Excellent Lou Reed rememberance
> This is without a doubt the best obituary I have read for him so far.
>> Thank you.
>> On Wed, Oct 30, 2013 at 1:07 PM, Aaron L. Rosenblum <[log in to unmask]
>> A quick addendum (sorry to clog your inboxes) - the previously linked
>>> about Lou Reed has been picked up by Huffington Post, if you prefer to
>>> it in the "legit" (?!?) media.
>>> Okay, done talking about Lou...for now!
>>> On Wed, Oct 30, 2013 at 1:25 PM, Aaron L. Rosenblum <
>>> [log in to unmask]
>>> > Another terrific remembrance from music writer and Lou fanatic Matt
>>> > Krefting. Okay, he's also a lifelong friend and bandmate of mine, but I
>>> > stand by his piece quite apart from any of that:
>>> > Aaron
>>> > Aaron L. Rosenblum
>>> > Assistant Curator of Special Collections
>>> > The *Filson* Historical Society
>>> > 1310 South Third Street
>>> > Louisville, KY 40208
>>> > 502.635.5083 x 269 (phone)
>>> > 502.635.5086 (fax)
>>> > [log in to unmask]**org <[log in to unmask]>
>>> > www.filsonhistorical.org