Farewell Lou Reed. The music you made changed my life maybe more than any other. Thank you for everything.
Here is my Lou Reed story.
I met him once. I was probably 22 years old. He played at a little theatre in my other old hometown, Boulder. Tickets were like $80 which I thought was just too much at the time. Then I later regretted not buying them, worked every angle to get in to the show, an finally succumbed to sitting outside on the stoop and listening to a muffled Lou Reed. It was better than nothing. He was my hero.
Somebody came outside and asked what the hell I was doing there. I told her Lou Reed was probably the only guy who I would sit outside to listen to, or risk never getting any closer. She told me that her friend never showed up and that I could have her ticket. Serendipitously, I was in. I eventually snuck down the very front. And it was like a dream. Old songs I knew by heart, and new ones that I instantly wanted to know by heart.
It was an electric show, the pulse of the room was high, every note was on, every inflection soulful. I was so close that I studied the furrow of his brow, the confidence, slowness, intention in every strum, even the sparkle on his guitar. It was standing in front of a god, a rock-and-roll god. Nearing the end of the show, they played an appropriately long Candy Says. We hung on together as an audience so tightly as it came to an end. The ensemble collected up front to bow again, then went back to their instruments and ended with Perfect Day, what seemed the perfect ending to the show.
Then the house lights went up and most of the audience got up to leave, with a sizable minority of us continuing to vociferously and relentlessly demand another encore. In all the 100s of shows I have seen, I had never seen this before, an audience so moved, they refused to leave, 2 minutes because 5 minutes, 5 became 10 and eventually we saw the band peeking around the back stage door, probably thinking, “I guess we gotta go play another.”
To the utter dismay of those still present, the band emerged to a half empty house, and struck the beginning chords of what may be the best song written in the 1960’s, Heroin, As honest and affecting as they get. There I stood in the front row at the intimate Boulder Theater watching the one and only Lou Reed play such an amazing testament to bittersweet modern junkie life. It seemed a spontaneous parting gift to an adoring crowd
With a vague feeling of possibility, I hung around afterwards, hoping to shake his hand and ask him to sign my Velvet Underground & Nico and Loaded LPs. A small group of us (Thomas Peters) had gathered under a parking structure across from the back door as roadies dispassionately packed the gear up a ramp into a truck. A light sprinkle gave an appropriate urban feel to the streets of Boulder, as we waited back there to see our underground idol. Finally a roadie announced after about an hour that Lou had left the building. He had slipped out the front in a van sent by the historic Hotel Boulderado.
A couple of us ran down to the beautiful old Hotel which wasn’t far away. We walked up through the main doors and into the giant vaulted and stainglassed lobby not knowing exactly what we were planning to do. And HOLY SHIT there he was, at the desk, signing in. We were so giddy we didn’t even know what to do. The hotel manager took one look at us sneaking up on Lou and shouted, “Mr. Reed will be having no guests tonight!” Not wanting to show any disrespect to our hero, we slowly backed out of the hotel with our tails between our legs and stood out on the sidewalk wondering what to do.
Just then his big jovial bass player came outside to us and asked us what we wanted with Lou. I said that we just wanted to meet him, shake his hand, thank him for all the amazing music, and maybe get him to sign these records I had brought with me. The bass player grinned and said Lou would meet us, not to worry, and to come with him. YEAH!
So we follow him into the hotel and the manager raised his hand again at us and the bass player instantly pacified him with one big calm-down smile and wave and then he said to Lou, “C’mon Lou, these are your fans! You gotta come and meet them…” Lou, still checking in, just looked back over his shoulder and sunk his shoulders and rolled his eyes looking very put-off by his band mate. Just then, in the gorgeous lobby of this fine and very posh hotel, this cute little blonde who was with us, lifts up her shirt, bearing all, and screams, “C’mon Lou! SIGN MY TITS!!!”
Lou couldn’t help but put a shit-eating grin on his face and walked over towards us with it, right up to the bare breasted blonde, motioning his hand for somebody to put a sharpie into soon. So he signed her tits, he signed my records, had a little chat with all of us. Tom told him they shared a birthday. Then he gets over to my friend Libby who is a total bombshell tough girl with the most piercing aquamarine colored eyes. She was just playing it cool, and he took one look into those eyes and says, “who are you going home with tonight?” She replied with a cool girl grin “You Lou, I’m going home with you…” Her fucking idiot boyfriend says “No your not” makes a little scene and she’s just like “next time, Lou, next time” and he smiles and walked off saying goodnight to all of us.