Lou Reed died today. Like some of the real greats of the 1970s (America’s most artistically legitimate decade), he did a lot of things. But for my purposes, nothing touches Metal Machine Music.
Reed toured with this material in 2010 – after his own earlier work had cleared the way for it to actually be appreciated. It’s amazing for me to think about what that must feel like – for your work to be validated 25 years later. Even, perhaps especially, if the album was the joke on his record company that lots of people considered it to be.
Like a dozen other genres, noise and experimental music, as something connected to punk spirit instead of just to academic music programs, wouldn’t exist today without Lou Reed. I’m not going to listen to Metal Machine Music in his honor – I’m going to listen to Tim Hecker, to Melt-Banana, to Emeralds, to Yellow Swans, to Grouper. To all the things I would be listening to on an average day anyway. None of it would exist without Lou Reed.