This week, the singer and songwriter Lou Reed, who grew up in Long Island, New York, died. During a career that began in the late 1960s, he created music that inspired generations of songwriters, musicians, artists and others. He will be missed by many. Reed had a reputation as a very difficult and sometimes unpleasant man, particularly to journalists. But he could also be kind and surprisingly sensitive. To give both sides of the man, here are two accounts of meeting the singer during his later years.
The first is by Peter Ross in the Herald. He says that Reed was "to journalists what Cape Horn was to 18th century sailors - a vicious hunk of rock given to unpredictable storms, which draws you with its legend then dashes all your hopes". His interview is a classic example of that.
The other piece, written this week, is by Will Sheff of the band Okkervil River (who we've featured previously on The Island Review). He describes a meeting with his idol, during which Reed spoke "the kindest and most perfect three sentences anyone could have uttered" - an experience he says had a "profound" effect on him. It's a rather moving tribute, and well worth reading.
And lest we forget the music, here is a live recording, from September 1984, of one of Lou Reed's best known songs, Coney Island Baby.