I guess there are a fair few other idiots like me who grew up in relative safety with an inconveniently danger-free life, destined for seventy years of wholesome rosy-pink PG niceness and completely incapable of coping with anything but. Lou Reed gave us all a taste of a world where it wasn't like that. A world of gender-swapping, drug-addled coagulated darkness that was shot through with moments of pure innocence and beauty - like light shining through the bullet-holes in a rusty 'STOP' sign held up against the moon. I never had to do heroin, but Lou could tell me what it was like. I didn't have to do the bad things, swim down to the silt at the bottom because Lou was my proxy. And I'm glad he did because down there are pearls, and I'm happy I got to see them, but mostly it's just shit and rusted bicycles.
Lou gave me the moments of beautiful clarity and perspective that exist within a life of decadence, but he spared me the indignity of having to steal the wedding ring of an eighty-five-year-old widow in order to pay for smack.
Thanks for that Lou.
The inverted glamour of underlit backrooms filled with teenage prostitutes of indeterminate gender, the dope-fiends, the freaks, the pimps, the pushers and the innocent shiny-skinned children who had wandered unsuspectingly in off of a Greyhound bus. He showed us that scene but let us go home afterwards, we could stare with saucer eyes at the spectacle and dig it without suffering the inevitable corrosion of the flesh that occurs with prolonged direct contact with something caustic - no matter how sparkly-shiny fizzy its effervescence.
And by all accounts Lou was a raging arsehole who reduced fanboy journalists to near-tears but I think that was his prerogative. What's wrong with being an arsehole? There's an incredible nobility in maintaining a disdainful sneer if that's the way the world appears to you. Anything else would be a lie and lying is bad.
Besides, it's quite likely that he just hated journalists (except awestruck blonde journalists from Sunderland apparently - skip to the last minute or so).
And he knew how to write a tune (although don't take Metal Machine Music as an example there) and without that it would have all been for naught. Without the thrumming bassline of 'Beginning to See the Light' to drag me in (the VU song that first grabbed me by my sixteen-year-old throat) I probably wouldn't have made it to the sublime avant-garde weirdness and competing stereophonic cacophony of 'Murder Mystery'.
But anyways - as another formative influence on my teenage years, who was alive when I found him but has since merged with the infinite, once said:
"Whoops! Let's not get maudlin, Doc. Don't embarrass the breed ... At the top of the mountain we are all snow leopards."
Lou Reed. So it goes. Play us out: