Lou Reed R.I.P.

If you are of certain age you will by now probably know and have taken note that Lou Reed has picked up his guitar and left the building. The world of art says goodbye to a man who subliminely entered all our consciosness and still kept his integrity intact. For someone in the eye of the public he maintained his relevance right up to the present day.

I first became aware of Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground in 1972 when he hit us all with the ageless, Walk on the Wildside. It was a rainy chart Tuesday and we all crammed around someone’s transistor radio in the Humanities room of the Priory Boys Grammar School.

Life in school would have been absolutely unbearable for those holy half hours when we heard whether the Osmonds had finally fallen or if Slade had hit number one.

Lunchtimes smelt of Sandwich Spread and Bovril crisps. The crisps we bought from the Tuck Shop. The Sandwich spread heaved out of small glass jars by inept lunch preparers.

By one O’clock the sarnies had become squashed in my satchel but I didn’t care as I munched away listening and ignoring the chalk dusted walls of academia , just for a second I would find peace in the world of glam and pop.

However within two bars of that amazing bass intro we all knew that we were listening to a classic song.    Polly came down from “Miami”…….I was hooked.

I should by this time be hacking my way across town to the Meole Brace School playing field; as being an inner town school, we had to walk to Meole to endure ninety minutes of P.E. lessons , Why anyone would even want to do anything on a Tuesday but listen to the chart show, we couldn’t fathom.

However, by the time she had hitched her way across the USA we were transfixed. I tell this now remembering that we were transfixed at many of the seventies song, but this one really stuck, resonating forty years later and still sounding as fresh as that day I remembered, in that horrid overbearing place that was that horrible  classroom.

Liberated and twenty-one I lived in Wellington for a while. It was 1981.  New romantics were wandering around having danced at the wake of Glam and Punk and people could be seen visibly groping their way along walls, because Phil Oakey of Human League had invented the most ludicrous, curtain hairstyles. It is true that several years one would spend half the evening wondering about what the other half of whomsoever’s face, that had caught your eye from the other side of the bar; actually looked like..

Our very own midlanders, Duran Duran were feeding fat the necessity to be ostentatious and garish. But in hindsight us younger ones needed a lift from the political climate that created the 1980s.

That said into my lap from the wild side of somewhere dropped the album, Transformer. Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, a love affair began as I had met the soundtrack to my life  Track after track of exquisite genius word-smithing and musical delights awaited my oh so, influential ears.It seemed that soon after that awakening, Wherever I was, at whatever event, what ever party, there would be Lou singing away in the background with his band mirroring my life with their sounds.

Perfect day was one of my favourite tracks at the time. I found myself being more than a little mildly disappointed as the charity record of the same name was undeniably destroyed by a whole host of well-meaning celebs.

One will never forget the otherwise beautifully tuned Heather Small from M People, insisting that we should Reeeeeeeeeep, Reeeeeeeeeep, Reeeeeeeeeeeep, need I say more? However the song, ultimately escaped unharmed and the integrity of the author remained unblemished in this humble reporter’s opinion.

Times have changed so much. We have grown up to live in a world we could not have dreamt of. We are in an Orwellian maelstrom of change and invention. Even the greatest soothsayers and psychics of the past could never have imagined that technology will have turned the world into something that doesn’t work until it’s plugged in.

Whatever  change and  modernity  gushed through the ravine that had been my childhood; with me in the deluge came Lou Reed’s, Transformer. It was just always there. Omnipresent and yet still fresh. Long time visible but still appealing. Like all masterpieces, one imagines.

But the point to this obituary, if you like, is each time we lose something or someone from our past. a little more of the world where we felt comfortable; vanishes too. All we can do then is to look back fondly at the people and events that shaped our early days.

Not only were my early years shaped by Lou Reed, an artist of unequalled out-therism but his album Transfomer, impacted on me in such a way that I can never imagine a time when I didn't know it.

Mr. Reed Sir, if I have just one wish for you now it would be that you find your satellite of love and sleep on the wild side. Thank you for the music!


Owen Lewis


Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet.

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