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Lou Reed 1942–2013: Alexander Hacke: No Sell Out

November 2013

Lou Reed died on 27 October, 2013. Einstürzende Neubauten's Alexander Hacke on Reed's ultimate misanthropy, and the hidden Evil in his noise.

Lou Reed has died and he may rest in peace.

He used to project the image of being the ultimate misanthrope, but I wonder if that really was the way he felt or if he was just really good at it.

He had never actually been to Berlin when he released an album by that name in 1973, because he thought that if he had called it Brooklyn nobody would have cared.

When I first discovered Metal Machine Music (1975), the thing that most intrigued me about it was his statement in the sleevenotes that no one, including himself, had ever listened to the recording in its entirety.

That probably wasn’t true either.

I did listen to that whole record through, many, many times and I remember wondering what the big deal was, like the disappointment of not being shocked by a highly anticipated horror movie.

The fact that he somehow made us all listen to this hour of feedback over and over, literally crawling into the speakers, trying to catch a glimpse of the hidden Evil, the outspoken cruelty of such a venture and the redeeming quality of living through it, while Lou obviously didn’t care about us or this release, proves in retrospect what a tremendous impact the man had on me.

I must say that I was never consciously a fan of his music, though of course there’s some really great songwriting and nostalgic memories that go with it; but significant to me was his stance and his total disregard of whether his art was appreciated or not – that was inspiring, and again I can only sincerely hope that in his personal life he found the Love and Peace among his fellow human beings he obviously so vehemently refused to share in his art.

Comments

This was a record I first acquired as a teenager, having heard both the hype and most of is solo recordings to that date--not considering myself a completist, but rather drawn to the diversity of his approaches. Original RCA pressings with the catch-groove ending were very rare in the US, the release being out-of-print, so I made do with the superior German import pressing, non-gatefold.
I was struck by how melodic it was and ultimately calming. I listened to it through countless times. It sounded as if a set of common headphones were plugged directly into the input jack of an old Fender by the high rate of oscillation and lack of abrasiveness.
Later acquiring two mint copies, I made cassettes for travel which always included the closed-groove loop as long as the tape ran. Once, returning home on an Airbus high over the Aral Sea, the pitches harmonized perfectly with the engine noise as I blasted the .flac files. Uncanny.
I once knew a friend of one of the recording engineers who had tried to convince Lou to trim the time. Lou said, "it's in my contract. A double album. We are making it that length."
Bravo, Mr. Reed.

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