Yesterday morning, after posting about the passing of Hal Needham, I had no idea I would be facing news of the loss of Mr. Lou Reed.
I was on my way to a Rock Camp brunch. Baker Jen was driving and one of the riders in our car had just read the news. As she climbed into her seat she told us, “Lou Reed died today. He was only 71.” We were going to a goodbye party for one of our brilliant volunteers, as she’s moving to Austin, Texas. The weight of saying goodbye to one of our own was already heavy enough. The news of Lou Reed’s death was an unexpected stun.
Many of us talked about Reed’s passing and more than once we spoke of how happy we were that he’d had love in his life over the last few years. (Reed was married to musician and performing artist Laurie Anderson.) Again and again, we said how young he was. Over and over, we expressed our sadness at the loss.
Speaking for myself, I am still trying to process my feelings. I won’t lie and claim to know every song or every detail of Lou Reed’s or Velvet Underground’s career. What I do know, what I can sing to myself in my sadness, is enough to fill my heart. And for that, I’m grateful.
While at brunch, I spoke to my dear Rock Camp buddy, Chaska. During this past summer’s session, she loaned the movie 20 Feet From Stardom to me and we shared heartfelt discussions about it. As we talked yesterday, I told her how I’d been thinking about the part of the movie when one of the back-up singers tells how Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” features the line “…and the colored girls go…” The back-up singer said how empowering that line was, as it truly expressed the strength and truth of just how important back-up singers’ contributions were. I was fighting back tears, and Chaska held on to my hand. I didn’t have to cry. Chaska knew and understood what I was saying. She, too, was terribly moved by that movie. I daresay she, too, has been moved by Reed’s music.
I understand that as I progress along life’s timeline I am going to face more and more loss. Someday, that last proverbial breath will be my own. But the intellectual acceptance of this does absolutely nothing to blunt the shock of these losses. And while I know that I will eventually process the death of Lou Reed, today I have not. I am still stunned. I am still sad. I am still hearing the opening lines to “Sweet Jane.” And I am picturing Mr. Reed standing on the corner, suitcase in his hand…