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I found it worthwhile and learned a lot
on 19 August 2014
The first time I ever heard about Lou Reed was when a friend came to my rooms in Cambridge in 1967 with a brand-new copy of "The Velvet Underground & Nico". We listened to it entranced, and agreed that it heralded a BIG change from the Beatles and the Kinks, or even the Stones. The Doors' brand new first album seemed roughly comparable though - we had no way of knowing how far apart they were culturally, or how Reed and Morrison loathed one another. Thereafter I eagerly bought each new Velvets or Reed album, completely oblivious from the distance of London about the people behind the music. I gave up about the time of "Rock & Roll Animal", for obvious reasons. The Velvets were gone, and Lou Reed seemed to be fading away and merging into the background.
This book is the first one I have ever read about Reed or the Velvets, and it taught me a lot of things I had no inkling of whatever. Afterwards I listened to several of the albums, to reassure myself that Lou still had that beautiful voice and composed those wonderful songs. Because, to be honest, I had no idea what an unpleasant, unkind man he was. And, to be fair, I didn't know he had undergone a lengthy course of ECT (at the behest of his loving parents) at the tender age of 17. Who knows if that changed the course of his life, or made him a different person? I suppose he was no more selfish and arrogant than many other artists have been throughout history - you couldn't get any more selfish and arrogant. But to read about the way he repeatedly abandoned and insulted and rejected those who had gone out of their way to help him; the way he invited David Bowie to dinner and then punched him repeatedly just because he suggested Lou should "clean up your act"... You can admire, even love, the artist while cordially disliking the man.
So while I hope to read something more substantial and better balanced when I get the time (and when it is published), for the time being I have learned as much as I really want to. Now I'm going to try and forget it.