21 January 2006

The First Time I Saw Lou Reed

I have only been able to see Lou Reed perform twice. The first time was when I was a teenager in England. I was living close enough to London to take the train to the last of his three shows at the Hammersmith Odeon. My good friend Hank went to the show with me.

Lou was promoting his "Rock 'n' Roll Heart" lp. Lou has been my favourite singer, songwriter and guitar player ever since I bought his first solo album at a department store going out of business sale for 99 cents in 1975. So of course I already had his newest album, loved it, and could not believe I was finally going to have a chance to see the man Lester Bangs had turned me on to in the pages of Creem magazine.

My brother had mailed me a cassette of an interview of Lou he heard on a Dope City radio station. In the letter which came with the cassette Axel wrote, "Your voice is exactly like Lou's." When I played the cassette I was thrilled to find Axel was right. I had the same speaking voice as my hero's. How cool is that?

Hank and I took the train into London after school. It was a Thursday. We bought tickets for the last of the three shows because we thought the last of the shows would be the best and the longest.

Lou did not dissappoint. He played 2 1/2 hours. His guitar was turned up louder than the rest of his band put together. This made Hank and I real happy. We had come to the show to hear Lou play his guitar. Hank, like lots of people around London, had been a fan of Lou's since he began listening to rock 'n' roll music. Hank was the guy who first played me the Velvet Underground on his bedroom record player.

During the first song or two I took a few pictures of Lou and the band with my instamatic before security scoffed it from me. I got the camera back after the show and still have the photos which have a teeny weeny Lou Reed bathed in bright stage lights in the centre of them.

The highlight of the show was Lou sitting down on the edge of the stage singing Berlin. It was like he was singing in my living room. Songs like Berlin were the shit that made me impatient to grow up. I wanted to get old and do drugs and have fucked up relationships instead of a life of homework. I would not have to wait long.

We took the train home from the show. I carried my poster I bought of Lou with a handgun in his hand. Trouble was we got on a wrong train and ended up staying on it long enough that by the time we doubled back to the station to connect with the right train home we had missed the last train. We were stuck 20 miles from home so we started walking.

We walked and talked about the sort of bullshit teenage boys talk about. When a car approached we stuck out our thumbs. But no one slowed down except for one guy who carried us a few miles. We walked by the entire length of Heathrow Airport. It took a good half hour just to do that. We walked by a field where two horses were fucking noisily under the moon. It seemed odd to watch two horses fucking so close to the City of London.

We made it home around 4:00 AM. I got up in two or three hours and went to school. Hank did not make it in to school that day. The English are not much good for anything unless they get lots of rest between their infrequent exertions. I spent the day at school dreaming, like always, that one day I was going to be a fucking rock 'n' roll star.


Ed said...

Mr BNH, did you ever find that soundtrack with "Pale Blue Eyes"?

Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

I went to the music store right after I found out it was on the Jordan's Crossing soundtrack only to discover it is no longer available. If I remember right the song was done by Joe Henry - the music clerk told me it was only available on the soundtrack. Looks like I am going to have to find a used copy.