Monday, November 4, 2013

Dead Celebrities

Last Sunday I was driving home (from an activity I promised not to mention here for a while) and I was listening to my CD of Ben Folds' "Rockin' the Suburbs."  As the title track came on, I had to turn it up really loud (the only way to listen to that song), and thought of the new personal poignancy of the song for me, as I drove through my new home, the Chicago suburbs of Niles, Morton Grove, Skokie, and Evanston.  Rockin' the suburbs, indeed!

I was in such a good mood when I got home, I decided I would listen to music in the shower, something I hardly ever do.  I went to my CD tower and looked through my hundreds of CDs, and my eyes fell on Lou Reed.  I put in a Lou Reed CD, something I hadn't heard in months, possibly years.

After my shower I went to The Facebook and posted a link to "Rockin' the Suburbs" with a comment about how that song now has a new meaning for me.

Then I read my FB feed.  It was full of links from friends lamenting the death of Lou Reed, which had happened earlier that day.  I'd just listened to his one of his CDs for the first time in a long time. Spooky coincidence!

My second thought was, "Wow, that's terrible timing for my Ben Folds post.  No one's going to care about that."

Yes, it really was tragic timing for my Ben Folds FB post.

When I told a friend about the coincidence of me listening to Lou Reed and then finding out he'd died, he said, "Way to go, Tim. You killed Lou Reed."


Many people posted on FB about how sad they were that Reed had died.  How rock-n-roll had lost a legend.

I love Lou Reed's music, but I can't say I'm sad, or even affected, by his death.  He was 71.  Which is younger than the average age of death, but it's not like he was young.  His death wasn't tragic.  He lived a long life with a successful career that made a lot of people happy (or inspired or less lonely or whatever.) He had an impact. And it's not like he was in the prime of his career, still making lots of great music.  (I told my friend that I could have just as easily killed Ben Folds, which would have been worse, because at least he's still coming out with albums.)  

It's not like I'm going to miss Lou at our weekly coffee klatch.  He didn't even know me.  So no, I'm not going to cry any tears over the passing of someone I never met.

Instead, I will celebrate his accomplishments, listen to more of his CDs, and honor his accomplishments and legacy he left behind.  This is not a moment for sadness.  It's a moment for appreciation.


I discovered Lou Reed and the Velvent Underground in college, in the early 90's, through my friend Jim.  He loaned me a Velvet Underground tape (yes, tape!) and some other Lou Reed things, and then I checked out (and copied) some Lou Reed CDs from the library.

One thing I found interesting about Reed's songs is that women say a lot of things in them.  He has songs titled, "Stephanie Says", "Candy Says", "Lisa Says", and "Carolyn Says" (and "Carolyn Says II").  Also there's the line from his one hit single, "Walk on the Wild Side":
...and the colored girls say, 'Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo ...' 
 I heard that later he changed that line in concert to the more politically correct, "and the African American girls say..."

As a shy college student, "Lisa Says" really spoke to me:
Lisa says on a night like this,
It'd be so nice if you'd gave me a great big kiss.
And lisa says for just one little smile,
I'll sit and play for you for the longest while...

Oh, why am I so shy? Why am I so shy?
Those good times, you know, they just seem to pass me by.
Why am I so shy?

That song describes most of my interactions with women in college.


Here's a great song Lou wrote for Andy Warhol after he died.  (Lou and Andy were good friends.)  It's a beautiful eulogy full of regret and sadness.    


Now Stephanie, Candy, Lisa, Carolyn, and the rest all say, "Rest in peace, Lou."


Sarah B said...

If it's any consolation, my friend killed Pope John Paul.

She was like, "HOW is he still alive? Why doesn't he just DIE already?"

And then the next day, he did.

Tim said...

Very funny, Sarah!

For the record, I did NOT kill Lou Reed. I just started the honoring his career before I knew I was.