My Car Quest

June 24, 2024

Lou Reed

by Mike –

Lou Reed was a one-of-a-kind song writer, singer and Rock & Roll icon who had a huge impact on Rock & Roll and everything that came after.

He died on October 27, 2013 at the age of 71 due to complications from a liver transplant probably needed because of years of Heroin and alcohol use.

Lou Reed

He was the song writer and lead singer for the band, Velvet Underground. They recorded their music in the late 1960s and even though I was listening to virtually all of the Rock & Roll on the radio at the time I never once heard a Velvet Underground song back then. They really were underground.

Lou Reed’s lyrics were a little too graphic and gritty for the public airwaves at that time. Velvet Underground was not a financially successful band when they were together but only years later were they celebrated as genius – like Vincent van Gogh.

Supposedly Brian Eno said that “Velvet Underground’s debut album only sold 30,000 copies, everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band.”


I did finally hear Velvet Underground for the first time when I was browsing in a music store in the 1980s and bought one of their CDs. After listening to it I went back and bought all of them.

Velvet Underground was like nothing I had heard before. Lou Reed wrote graphically about life, drugs and sex. His lyrics are direct, his music is simple and beautiful and his singing is straight forward and sincere.

He hung out with Andy Warhol and just about everyone else who was interesting in New York City at the time and many other rock stars like David Bowie, Bono of U2, David Byrne of Talking Heads, Debbie Harry of Blondie, Metallica and many others including the great writer Salman Rushdie. Lou Reed was the cool one in the room no matter who else was there.

Most of us have heard his hits (after Velvet Underground):

“Walk on the Wild Side”

New York City’s the place where they say,
Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
I said, Hey Joe
Take a walk on the wild side

and “Rock and Roll”

One fine mornin’, she puts on a New York station
and she couldn’t believe what she heard at all
She started dancin’ to that fine-fine-fine-fine music
ooohhh, her life was saved by rock ‘n’ roll

These two songs were played on the radio quite a bit even though there are sexual references – for some reason this was ignored, maybe because it was Lou Reed.

One of his most well known songs from Velvet Underground was “Heroin” with the prophetic line,

Heroin, be the death of me
Heroin, it’s my wife and it’s my life

and one of my favorite verses by Lou Reed (also from “Heroin”),

I wish that I was born a thousand years ago
I wish that I’d sailed the darkened seas
On a great big clipper ship
Going from this land here to that
I put on a sailor’s suit and cap

Away from the big city
Where a man cannot be free
Of all the evils in this town
And of himself and those around
Oh, and I guess I just don’t know
Oh, and I guess I just don’t know

He wants to escape the “evils in this town” but doesn’t know how.

Michael Stipe of the rock band R.E.M. said,

Lou Reed was massively important to “Island of Misfit Toys” kids. Every single child of the 21st century who is not square owes him a moment of reflection and thanks.

Lou Reed

We have lost whatever Lou Reed was going to create in the future and we can’t get it back, it is gone forever.

May he rest in peace.









Read the Rolling Stone Magazine obituary here. Lou Reed is on the cover of the latest issue of Rolling Stone.

Photo ofLou Reed
Lou Reed
Job Title
Rock Star
Velvet Underground


  1. Herbert Putz says

    I loved his Music!


  2. Chas Leekam says

    What a magnificent and unexpected tribute. Just as Lou would himself have choosen I suspect.
    Together with attending today’s Hertford Town (uk) Remembrabce Parade , Bulling up the Z32 for the N.E.C. Classic Car Show next week and chatting to good friends— Has made for a perfect day.


  3. My favorite Lou Reed Quote

    “One chord is fine. Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you’re into jazz.”

    • That is a great quote and insightful. As I said above “His lyrics are direct, his music is simple and beautiful and his singing is straight forward and sincere.”

      Many singer, song writers thought they could do this because Lou Reed made it seem so simple but it isn’t simple really.

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