Thursday, December 25, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Honesty, understanding at core of Reed’s legacy

By
From page B1 | November 01, 2013 |

“I’m Waiting for the Man” rocked my world.

In the pantheon of songs from Lou Reed, the Brooklyn-born rock legend who died Sunday at age 71, it’s an unforgettable one.

I didn’t get into music until I was approaching adolescence, but even then, I came at it with naiveté.

My parents were overly cautious about my musical interests. I wasn’t allowed to have a certain Eric Clapton greatest hits compilation because it included “Cocaine.”

I knew I strayed from Mom and Dad’s list of approved musicians with shock rockers Marilyn Manson, so I hid the records in a desk drawer as though they were a shame as secret as dirty magazines.

In the spirit of Reed’s own brutal honesty, part of what got me into music is it helped me feel less nerdy. It starts conversations, opens doors and brings people together.

Working in a record store after high school was its own eye opener. By that time, my interest in music was unstoppable, but some of the store’s other products – including adult videos and tobacco paraphernalia – were beyond the realm of naive, young Nick’s experience.

So it was with shock and surprise that I first heard The Velvet Underground’s “I’m Waiting for the Man” around this age.

The song barrels in with a pounding, persistent piano lick and some of the most urgent tambourine rattling ever committed to record. It sets the tone for the singer’s state of mind.

“I’m . . . waiting for my man,” sings Reed in the opening line, as though he pauses to check if anyone else is listening. “Twenty-six dollars in my hand / Up to Lexington, 1-2-5 / Feel sick and dirty, more dead than alive.”

I knew enough to know what Reed was singing about, but I was still innocent enough to register surprise that he would press such a tale to wax. I knew drugs had inspired some great music, but such an unflinching portrayal of their retrieval seemed akin to brandishing a scarlet letter into his chest with a branding iron.

As time rolled on, I came to love the song in its own right, but I’ll never forget how gobsmacked I felt the first time I heard it.

That truth is the way I’m going to remember Reed. His legacy is that of honesty, a man committed at all costs to his artistic vision.

He suffered no fools. Some of the critical eulogizing is flattering for a man who would have had zero patience for it. He showed little patience for his own fans, telling some of them off even as they praised him. He was a cantankerous old coot at all ages.

His attitude to music journalists was more harsh. Speaking with Spin in 2010 about the lukewarm critical reaction to his 1973 rock opera, “Berlin,” he said, “I didn’t like critics then and I don’t like them now. There you go.” Later, he walked out of the interview.

He was an outsider who painted with that brush, a rebel with a cause who set things on fire just so he could stand there and admire the colors of the flames. I think that’s where “I’m Waiting for the Man” and other songs of such rawness about drugs, sex and life came from within him.

Still, he deserves to be remembered, not because he charted colossal hits, but because his artistic integrity made him a pioneer in so many ways – noise rock, punk, even hip-hop. I know Reed would want the truth to be said.

For me, he torched bridges I didn’t know existed. “I’m Waiting for the Man” was a dawning that artists can and must have the freedom to operate outside the law, at least in their works, to remind us of the humanity that ties us all together.

He was that outsider who stayed on the fringe, encouraging people to get comfortable with the uncomfortable parts of themselves and others. It’s no mistake that his most well-known song is “Walk on the Wild Side.”

We need artists such as Reed; ones who show us the world and themselves in such unvarnished terms in order to push us to a higher level of understanding.

To read more of Nick DeCicco’s blogs, visit http://dailyrepublic.typepad.com/forthoseabouttorock. Follow him on Twitter @ndeciccodr.

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco is the editor of the Tailwind and writes the pop culture blog/column For Those About to Rock. Before joining the DR staff in July 2007, DeCicco (pronounced Deh-CEE-Coh) worked at The Union in Grass Valley, Calif., and the Greeley Tribune in Greeley, Colo. A 2004 graduate of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, DeCicco spends his free time attending concerts, listening to music, going to movies, traveling and hiking.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Thinking about holiday discards? Cities, Scouts ready to help

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Christmas Eve event features Bible, bikes

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

It’s easy to remember some Christmas memories

By Mayrene Bates | From Page: A2

 
Man’s walk for peace enters Fairfield

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
$3,500 nets Dixon man $9, he says

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Deadline nears for BookFest authors’ contest

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3

 
Suisun waterfront to host restaurant week

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3

Conservancy schedules next Quail Ridge hike

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Fairfield man wants $28,828 returned

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4, 3 Comments

Fairfield police log: Dec. 21, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Dec. 23, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Dec. 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Dec. 21, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: Dec. 23, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: Dec. 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

Governor issues 105 pardons, many for drug crimes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
10 years after tsunami, Indonesian family reborn

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Storm expected to bring Christmas snow to Sierra

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Sony broadly releases ‘The Interview’ in reversal of plans

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Regulations would expand coastal California sanctuaries

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Officer kills armed 18-year-old near Ferguson

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Interrogation program mismanaged, Senate, CIA agree

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Denver shelters cite legal pot in homeless upswing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

After NYC deaths, a surge of support for police

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
IS shoots down warplane in Syria, captures Jordanian pilot

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Abe takes office for 3rd term as Japan’s leader

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Russia: NATO pushed Kiev to drop nonaligned status

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Russia in offer to help firms with foreign debts

By T. Burt McNaughton | From Page: A7

 
Grisly finds in Iraqi Yazidi village wrested from militants

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

NKorea outage a case study in online uncertainties

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Curfew in India state after rebels kill 63

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Cuba’s relations with Catholic Church hit high point

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Iraq: Suicide attack kills 24 people near Baghdad

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Sony tries to save face with ‘Interview’ flip-flop

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Who hacked Sony becomes Internet’s new mystery

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

.

Opinion

 
Immunity and interrogators: a second look

By Walter Pincus | From Page: A11

My grandson wants what for Christmas?

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A11

 
Letting go

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

.

Living

Today in History: Dec. 25, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Dec. 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Dec. 25, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
A partridge in a pear tree will cost a bit more this year

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Court denies Polanski’s motion to dismiss 1977 sex case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

.

Sports

 
Domestic violence at forefront of NFL in 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Alabama’s Sims proves critics wrong with big season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Associated Press Sports Story of the Year Winners

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Masters races to keep field under 100 players

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Typical NFL season: smiles for some, frowns for others

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NBA prepares for Christmas coming-out party

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B2

 
Titans lead Bucs for top pick in NFL draft

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Tyler Summitt easing into head coaching career

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Elvis Stojko, Bourne bring skating to small stage

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B2

New-Look NBA: In Milwaukee, a new hope rises

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Sharks forward John Scott suspended 4 games

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

.

Business

Honda recalls 1,252 Crosstours over side air bags

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Applications for US jobless aid fall to 7-week low

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Walmart tests gift card exchange

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Unions make push to recruit protected immigrants

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9