“LOU REED, 71” by Byron Coley


the easiest heroes are consistent
but the ones who really shape us
are random maniacs
whose work we stumble across
at times in our lives
we desperately need misdirection

and so it was i met the music of lou reed
through a guy named buzz
who’d bought the first velvets album
but didn’t like it
just the way he hadn’t liked the first mothers album
a month earlier
which meant i got each for a buck

there is literally no way to describe
the way that record hit me
i was a ten year old seventh grader
and the first time i played the album
i was transformed into someone else
someone who knew more than my contemporaries
even if i couldn’t quite shake it all out

lou and john and sterling and moe
gave me much more info
than i could understand
but they did it in a way
i loved so intuitively
with music exploding in such amazing directions
it made sense on a molecular level

and through the years i followed lou
good scenes, bad scenes, he put us through it all
but we kinda paid attention
because, after all
this motherfucker
this lou reed

this electroshocked cocksucking bastard
who put out many more lousy records than good
was the father of everyone i’ve ever known
and i never thought he’d die
and i really miss him

more than i ever thought i would

— Byron Coley

Categories: Byron Coley | Tags: , | 9 Comments

About Jay Babcock

I am an independent writer and editor based in Tucson, Arizona. In 2023: I publish an email newsletter called LANDLINE = https://jaybabcock.substack.com Previously: I co-founded and edited Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curated the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages, Grand Royal and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was somehow listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. From 2010 to 2021, I lived in rural wilderness in Joshua Tree, Ca.

9 thoughts on ““LOU REED, 71” by Byron Coley

    • thanks to all. i was driven to do this by the great benoit chaput of l’oie de cravan press up in montreal. i was feeling surprisingly bummed out by lou’s departure and was sinking more deeply into it, when benoit suggested i write something. for a guy who was so self-destructive for so long, it’s amazing how deeply it cut.
      best to all, bc

    • i think buzz felt kinda burned after the velvets. he was part of my carpool to montclair academy for the rest of that year, but he never offered me another record. i think maybe he got into golf.

  1. Like when Lou cared to, you still cut BC. I find myself missing him more than I thought i would too, although I did always think “you know it’s going to be a sad strange day when Lou Reed dies”

  2. Pingback: Lou Reed remembered in tributes by Patti Smith, Can's Irmin Schmidt, the Vatican and more - FACT Magazine: Music News, New Music.

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