On Sunday October 27, Lou Reed, former frontman for The Velvet Underground (and thrilling solo artist) died from liver disease at 71. Reed was a prime example of the artist as an individual. He followed his heart wherever it led him, always in search of a “truth” that could be put into song, poem, story, or photo.
In a 2000 piece titled “What I’ve Learned” for Esquire magazine, Reed shared his thoughts on whether he saves and returns to the moments of inspiration that are often dropped on artists by random muse attacks.
"People say, 'Do you keep these riffs and ideas and everything? Because then when you make a record, you could just go to the file cabinet.' And I've always thought of doing something like that, but I don't. I just don't do it. I listen to these words flooding by, and once in a while, one just stays; it's very strange. I've learned not to even wonder about it anymore. Not that I give up; it's just, I don't understand it. I realize I don't understand it, and there you go. You may be drawing a circle for the thousandth time, but maybe it's a slightly better circle. It's appalling to me when there's a big miss, or the solution comes up two years after [an album] was out, and I say, 'Ohhh, now you tell me.' With any kind of luck, you get another crack at the ball."
Being someone who constantly jots ideas, doodles doodles, and saves every scrap of everything for future possible use, I’m envious that Reed was able to follow his unique creative path to whatever project felt right, free from the confines of time. Not to mention, complete said project, and then release it into the wild, without a lick of concern for what critics (or fans) might’ve thought (“Lulu”, anybody?).
Also, since were’ on the subject of Reed and the wonderful Velvet Underground, this line from the band’s “Some Kind of Love” is certainly something:
"Let us do what you fear most / That from which you recoil / but which still makes your eyes moist"