Lou Reed

In honor of Lou Reed‘s death today, I’ve wiped my iPod of all “easy” music and am loading it with music that has always challenged me, which includes The Velvet Underground, bop jazz (Charlie Parker, Chet Baker, Miles Davis, etc), early Echo & the Bunnymen, Foals, Joy Division, Gang of Four, early Pixies, Jesus and Mary Chain (Psychocandy), aMiniature, Jesu, Wire, some VU covers and, of course, Lou Reed himself. I only have Berlin & Transformer, but that’s challenging enough.

Challenging music. Music that makes you (me) uneasy, or feel unsettled, or awkward, or sad, or depressed. Or that’s difficult to listen to, you feel like you’re trying to keep up.

Music isn’t always easy, nor is it supposed to be. I learned this reading Henry Rollins’ Before The Chop earlier this year. I’m trying to challenge myself more, lately, in music and other art.

Thanks, Lou.

What music challenges you?

EDIT: Also added The Cure – The Top, Frank Zappa, and Captain Beefheart. Because the above wasn’t challenging enough. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Lou Reed

  1. At one time, I used to ONLY listen to music that was challenging. I had it in my mind that Popular Music, top 40 from any era, was completely devoid of meaning, and I have only recently grown out of that – and even found that some of it actually does have meaning, too (if you are open to it). With that in mind, I highly recommend Lou Reed's New York album in that it represents (for me) a gateway between easy and difficult. It is at once gritty and accessible in ways that I think even Transformer is not. Challenging for me, now; music that pulses with anger. This type of music used to be so important to me, but I find myself demoting it further and further down in my playlists, yet I sometimes feel like I should try to reach back to why this used to be so important to me … Maybe I'd learn something about myself on the way … I just don't have the energy.


  2. I mostly listened to non-challenging music for most of my teenage life. Not that it wasn't good or challenging in ways, but music that I identified with and had a natural affinity for. The Smiths, The Cure, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Depeche Mode, INXS, Big Country, etc. I think, well, I heard some challenging music in high school – Ministry, Skinny Puppy – stuff I'd hear at clubs probably. It was only when I got to college that I started hearing Sonic Youth & Dinosaur Jr. & The Boredoms and other music that at first would typically make me recoil or just sounded like what my dad would call noise.Well, and that's not entirely true, I was listening to skate punk and the Sex Pistols in jr. high/high school. It wasn't in heavy rotation, but it was music I listened to and wasn't a natural affinity. It was only after repeated listenings. Or, as with the Sex Pistols, I heard that first and then heard some harder/faster skate punk (thinking Exploited here, or The Meatmen) and when I revisited the Sex Pistols I was like "Oh, yeah, that's just rock".And then I remember back further, hearing & loving the video for "Man in the Dark Sedan" by Snakefinger, and that was pretty challenging, visually and musically.But again, it wasn't my first choice. But now, after reading that Rollins book, and to honor Lou, I want to challenge myself more.Thanks for reading & commenting, Gary!


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