In the pantheon of rock’s greatest lyricists Lou Reed is right up there (though lagging behind Dylan, like everybody else). As a clearly impressed D. Bowie, latterly of Beckenham, once stated: “He gave us the environment in which to put our more theatrical vision. He supplied us with the stretch and the landscape, and we peopled it.”
Reed’s literate approach to lyric writing was shaped by his early aspiration to be a novelist (“I wanted to write the great American novel, but I also loved rock & roll”) and his tutelage under the poet and short story writer Delmore Schwartz.
Reed also drew inspiration for words to sing to music from his own life, and it helped that he was at the epicentre of New York’s art scene in the 60s. The lyrics from his stint in The Velvet Underground alone are a hallowed wonder, with love songs Pale Blue Eyes and I’ll Be Your Mirror a testament to his tender side. Back in print, and updated with the lyrics to his final album with Metallica, Lulu, file your copy next to The Complete Works Of Shakespeare.