Learning from Lou Reed’s Life

by guestinyourheart

I wasn’t a fan of his music. It’s not that I didn’t like it or him but didn’t know much about either until today when I caught a segment of Fresh Air. Terry Gross was speaking with Lou Reed’s publicist and friend, Bill Bentley.

The full link is here: http://www.npr.org/2013/10/29/241437872/never-back-down-fresh-air-remembers-lou-reed

I appreciated learning more about Reed’s life from someone who obviously loved him. I had no idea how much he suffered in childhood, what a brilliant artist he was, how he refused to limit the length of his songs or about the drummer who was asked to play standing which impacted the style of her percussion.

I didn’t know what a difficult man he was and how his battle with demons was more than one-night fling but a practice he needed to return to.

I had no idea he is said to have been forced to get electroshock therapy for being bisexual because I knew nothing about his sexual identities. I never met him so I wasn’t invested in the failure or success of his relationships but still found myself cheering, that through them, he gained peace and found the happiness and beauty he craved but had been lacking.

Mostly, it is his work as a lyricist I find inspiring. The NPR staff person summarizing highlights from today’s aired interview wrote that Reed’s “No. 1 goal: to change the parameters of what rock lyrics could be. You should be able to write about hard drugs, you should be able to write about gay sex, you should write about anything. And nobody was really doing it then, but he had studied literature at Syracuse University and had met a poet named Delmore Schwartz who had instilled in Lou the ability to tell the truth in his work. And that really guided Lou’s life.”

I applaud and admire his courage taking on any topic. I want to know more about Delmore Schwartz, and to read some of his poems. Here’s a link to one poem I Googled upon if you are also curious.


I learned from a poet who was a musician’s teacher. Today, a publicist friend was interviewed on radio. This thread of words, the we humans stack and are stacked below and above each other and adhered with words moves me. I got to learn of family members who raised and influenced in ways positive and negative, the teachers and mentors who encouraged or gave corrective experiences, the lovers and spouses and the personal trials causing souls to stretch into new shapes and how those affirming and challenging events fed and fueled art and life choices…

I love being bathing in words by experiences shared through memory, poetry and song.