Lou Reed's songwriting

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GoogaMooga
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Lou Reed's songwriting

Postby GoogaMooga » 30 Mar 2021, 17:23

Lou Reed's songwriting - he had one hit in his solo career. Dunno if Velvets ever charted, they weren't about that. So, Lou Reed solo - he pretty much stayed in the Velvet Underground vein of things, energetic rockers and the odd sleepy ballad. I sometimes wonder, how much of it was a conscious decision to stay out of the charts and get hip cachet, or could he have knocked out the hits. I think he made a virtue out of necessity, and decided to stay in Velvet mode throughout his career. Sure, he may have softened, although "Sunday Morning" and "I'll be Your Mirror" already had shown us the sensitive side of Lou Reed. Oddly, for a man so indifferent to chart success, he was a close friend of Doc Pomus, Brill Building songwriting giant.

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Last edited by GoogaMooga on 30 Mar 2021, 20:08, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lou Reed's songwriting

Postby Geezee » 30 Mar 2021, 18:10

Well, Sweet Jane was a fairly significant hit, as was Perfect Day (20 years after the fact). His 70s were very much one hit album followed by a complete anti-hit album (Transformer to Berlin, RnR Animal/Sally Can't Dance to MMM, Coney Island to RnR Heart), and after that he settled into his New Jersey suburban 80s period. One thing I do think gets easily forgotten in his song-writing is how important 60s soul and doo-wop played in his upbringing and especially his lyrics - there is pop in there and he is more 'straight' than what the far more avante-garde leaning John Cale was bringing to the Velvets (or indeed Laurie Anderson). Lou was many things but I don't think he was indifferent to chart success - seems to me it was perhaps the largest of his many everlasting gripes that record labels were deliberately undermining his record sales. His collaboration with Metallica was his weird but deliberate attempt to have a final stab at commercial success.
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Re: Lou Reed's songwriting

Postby Rayge » 30 Mar 2021, 19:33

GoogaMooga wrote:it was a conscious decision to stay out of the charts and get hip cache,

I thinnk the word you are looking for there is 'cachet', googs, meaning prestige or recognition. A 'cache' is a hidden store of something.
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Re: Lou Reed's songwriting

Postby GoogaMooga » 30 Mar 2021, 20:07

Rayge wrote:
GoogaMooga wrote:it was a conscious decision to stay out of the charts and get hip cache,

I thinnk the word you are looking for there is 'cachet', googs, meaning prestige or recognition. A 'cache' is a hidden store of something.


You are right, Rayge. Must have seen it misspelt at one point, and it stuck.
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Re: Lou Reed's songwriting

Postby Matt Wilson » 30 Mar 2021, 21:11

I think the word you're looking for here is 'cash,' googs, meaning money or dollar bills. Reed didn't much care for that, choosing to rest on his cache of cachet with rock critics.
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Re: Lou Reed's songwriting

Postby mudshark » 30 Mar 2021, 23:03

In my opinion Lou Reed was brilliant. 2 seminal and incredible influential Velvets records, Berlin, The Bells and New York are fantastic. There are lots of gems on virtually all of the other albums (at least on those I've been able to listen to, which are all of them up to Ecstasy). He's up there with Bowie (possibly his saviour), Eno, Fripp and Byrne as one of the great innovators of music. I really don't think his aim was cashet or cash. He was an artist and a creator. And Metal Machine Music he's forgiven for: great funeral stuff. They can play it on mine, as long as they play all of it and nobody's allowed to leave.
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Re: Lou Reed's songwriting

Postby Matt Wilson » 31 Mar 2021, 02:00

All kidding aside - he's a god. People whine about his "spotty" discography, but it's actually pretty consistent all the way up through Magic & Loss (at least). Of course the Velvets stuff is the best. You can say that for all of the solo Beatles LPs as well. The only Lou albums I think are sub-par from that era are Sally Can't Dance & Mistrial. Then there's a couple of average ones too like Growing Up in Public & Rock and Roll Heart - and even those aren't bad per se, just rather forgettable. I don't even count Metal Machine Music - those aren't even songs, just an FU to his record company.

I pretty much love everything else.
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Re: Lou Reed's songwriting

Postby GoogaMooga » 31 Mar 2021, 02:13

I like Lou Reed, but if he is up there with the gods, it must be for VU. I think I may even have "Metal Machine Music" on CD somewhere, or had it at one point. I've got most of his stuff up to and including "Ecstasy", after that whatever I happened upon in thrift.
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Re: Lou Reed's songwriting

Postby GoogaMooga » 31 Mar 2021, 02:14

He's good within the confines of his genre, underground/garage, but he is no Doc Pomus. Pomus was universally loved, and that takes something extra.
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Re: Lou Reed's songwriting

Postby Charlie O. » 31 Mar 2021, 03:35

GoogaMooga wrote:He's good within the confines of his genre, underground/garage, but he is no Doc Pomus. Pomus was universally loved, and that takes something extra.

Don't know if you knew this when you wrote that, but Lou's Magic And Loss was inspired (in part) by Pomus' fatal cancer.
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Re: Lou Reed's songwriting

Postby GoogaMooga » 31 Mar 2021, 03:57

Charlie O. wrote:
GoogaMooga wrote:He's good within the confines of his genre, underground/garage, but he is no Doc Pomus. Pomus was universally loved, and that takes something extra.

Don't know if you knew this when you wrote that, but Lou's Magic And Loss was inspired (in part) by Pomus' fatal cancer.


Yes, I knew that. In fact, that is when I first learnt of the Doc Pomus connection. If you think I am being too harsh on Lou, please consider this: I don't think Lou Reed ever tried to emulate Doc Pomus' style. It is quite possible to pay homage, or in this case mourn a loss as well, to a fellow songwriter by doing so within your own style.
"When the desert comes, people will be sad; just as Cannery Row was sad when all the pilchards were caught and canned and eaten." - John Steinbeck