Posted by: Jamie | October 28, 2013

Top Ten October: Lou Reed songs

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Rolling Stone magazine rang the town crier’s bell earlier today reporting that songwriter, poet and visionary Lou Reed had passed away at age 71. The Barnes household has our black arm bands on because Lou was big in our house. It’s still a bit too raw for a verbose tribute, but for now we just want to mourn by listening to his work. Yeah, there were better singers and more precise musicians. But hardly none were cooler. What Lou brought to rock and roll was grit, attitude, ambience and swagger. Whether solo, covered by other artists or from the coolest of rock groups, The Velvet Underground -Here are some of our favorite tunes penned by the one of the most influential American songwriters of the last 50 years. Linger on, sweet Lou.

Despite all the computations
You could just dance to that rock ‘n roll station

10. “Cool It Down” from Velvet Underground / Loaded

This is just pure, unadulterated cool. Often the first song I play for the uninitiated. The album Loaded is a good place to start for anybody wanting to dip their toe into the velvety waters.

9. “Sweet Jane” as covered by The Cowboy Junkies / Trinity Sessions

The Junkies slowed this one down and stay truer to the 1969 Live version than the studio cut (also from Loaded), but they do a nice job capturing the opium den, after party feel the Velvets inspired.

8. “I’m Waiting For the Man” – from Velvet Underground & Nico

I can’t imagine what went through the minds of people, other than Moe Tucker’s relentless snare drum, when they first heard this in 1967. I mean, 1967! As my good friend Rocko said earlier today via social media, most bands were heading to San Francisco to sing about love and peace, and Lou was writing songs about the gritty, drug deal hand shakes that took place in the underbelly of New York city.Turn this up loud and allow it to kick you in your pants. I’ve never taken heroin, but I imagine it feels close to this.

7. “White Light, White Heat” – as covered by David Bowie from Bowie at the Beeb

This goes down as one of the great Side 1, Track 1’s. But I can’t escape how good Bowie made this tune sound when his band invaded the BBC. Bowie was known for beautifully paying tribute to his influences (Rolling Stones, The Pretty Things) and I think it’s safe to say, No Lou Reed= No David Bowie.

6. “Stephanie Says” – from Velvet Underground / VU


It’s so cold in Alaska. Some renewed interest was sparked when this tune was included on The Royal Tennenbaums soundtrack.

5. “Foggy Notion” – from Velvet Underground / VU

I told you, this band was just flat out cool. Even my 2 year old knows this is the bomb. He shakes his head and stomps his feet like a possessed child when he hears this.

4. “Satellite of Love” – from Lou Reed / Transformer

This was the second single released from his 1972 solo masterpiece. The record was produced by David Bowie, and ol’ Davey boy can be heard loud and clear on BGVs. Still sounds innovative over 40 years later.

3. “Who Loves the Sun?” – from Velvet Underground / Loaded

Sung by Doug Yule, the inner sad vampire responds to this one well.

2. “I’ll Be Your Mirror” – as covered by Beck from “Record Club Sessions”

What a gorgeous pop tune. Originally from the Velvet’s debut record, and sung by Nico, Beck and some friends did a full tribute to this incredibly pivotal LP for some kicks and end up capturing a magic moment with this one. Check it.

1. “Sunday Morning”
– from Velvet Underground & Nico

This is it. This is what caught our ears first. The opening clank of the glockenspiel, the laid back groove of the bass, the jangly guitar coming through the warm tubes of a Fender Deluxe and the gentle vocal delivery just make this a song that should start every grey and sleepy morning in your mind. Watch out, the world’s behind you.

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