Thursday, October 31, 2013

Darkness and Light: 'The happiest days of my life' & 'A post for Lou Reed'.

I thought we would take a short break from the holiday blog posts this week, just for this week. I was going to post a piece of writing titled 'The happiest days of my life'. A piece that is filled with darkness and light and then the news came on about Lou Reed's death. I then wanted to post some of his music as a remembrance of him, partly because I love so many of his songs and partly because I was shocked that many people did not know who he was. Much like the man himself, Lou Reed's music is filled with darkness and light... As I thought about this, the realisation came that it might be fitting to have both prose and ode to Lou in the one post.

Part 1:

'The happiest days of my life'

I want to say that the time
I was with you,
was the happiest time
of my life.

But that would be untrue.

Is it clich├ęd to say, that
we clung to each other
like drowning men
cling to floating debris?

I want to say that the happiest days of my life
were the days we spent together,
not the days we fought
or hated each other

Nor the days
we planned and schemed
our next victory against the other,

but the days
in between.

Those precious
few days in between.

Even then,
is too strong a word
to describe the calm relief,
the respite from
our constant war.

I can say,
that there were moments with you,
which were the happiest moments
of my life.

And in all honesty,
they were.

For all the shit,
all the hurt
and the spite,
we still had these moments

that were so beautiful
they kept us together
for (much, much) longer
than we should have been.

copyright matthew schiavello 2013

Part 2:

Lou Reed.

Lou Reed died this week, on October 27th, aged 71. He was a prickly character who wrote songs (sometimes about characters), that influenced many, myself included. If  being part of the Velvet Underground wasn't enough, Lou Reed had a long solo career and also collaborated with other artists. His catalogue included tracks like; Walk on the wild side, Waiting for the man, Sweet Jane, Rock and Roll, Heroin, Venus in Furs, Perfect Day, Vicious, Dirty Blvd, Romeo had Juliet.. to name but a few.

For those of us who know and love him and for those who don't know his music, here is a small selection of Lou Reed's work. May he rest in piece:

From the 1972 Lp- 'Transformer' here is the wonderful track 'Walk on the wild side'. With so many great lines, rather than pick one to type up, I'd ask instead that you just listen repeatedly. Brilliant story telling and a kick arse bass line (As a Tribe called quest once asked, 'can we kick it? yes we can!'):

Another track off the 1972 Lp- 'Transformer', is the beautiful 'Perfect day'. Heartbreaking lines like 'Such perfect day, you made me forget myself, I thought I was someone else, someone good.':

From 1988's 'New York' is this great tune 'Dirty Boulevard', with lyrics that force you to question critically:
 'This room cost 2,000 dollars a month
you can believe it man it's true
somewhere a landlord's laughing till he wets his pants
No one here dreams of being a doctor or a lawyer or anything
they dream of dealing on the dirty boulevard

Give me your hungry, your tired your poor I'll piss on 'em
that's what the Statue of Bigotry says
Your poor huddled masses, let's club 'em to death
and get it over with and just dump 'em on the boulevard.'':

From the Velvet Underground days, here are a couple of tunes.

Off 1967's 'The Velvet Underground and Nico' comes 'Waiting for the man. A song all about trying to score drugs':

From 1970's lp 'Loaded', here is the track 'Sweet Jane'. A song covered by many, for obvious reasons...How can you not sing along to lines like '... anyone who has a heart, wouldn't want to turn around and break it.....':

If you liked any of these tracks and had no idea who Lou Reed was.. go out and explore his musical legacy. If you loved the Velvet Underground tracks, go out buy the early records and put them on repeat, maybe you might be inspired to go out and start a rock and roll band like so many others!

next week..more holiday adventures!


  1. Lester Bangs' writing (Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung) captures a lot of the best of Lou. Also:

    1. Hi Alex, hadn't heard of Lester Bangs before, many thanks! Thanks also for that link.. interesting article!

  2. that's a lovely tribute to a worthy entertainer. rip Lou Reed

    1. Thanks Yevisha, he was a an amazing and complex man.

  3. Hi Matthew. I must have first heard 'Transformer' at 14, in 1972, when my sister brought it home.
    I never understood, until I read up about him, just how intelligent Lou Reed was.
    He jumped into the unknown. I'm glad to hear his passing was peaceful.

  4. Love Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground. Also love The Killers and Lou Reed's 'Tranquillize'.

    1. Thanks W&S, I didn't know that track and am listening to it as we speak.. well, as I type :-)