Magazine October 14, 2019, Issue

The Turbulent Life of the Velvet Underground’s Lou Reed

Lou Reed at Panathinaikos stadium in Athens, 1996 (Reuters)
The Life of Lou Reed: Notes from the Velvet Underground, by Howard Sounes (Diversion Books, 400 pp., $26.99)

There is a scene in David Lynch’s 1997 film Lost Highway in which the story’s femme fatale (Patricia Arquette) emerges from a Cadillac in slow motion to the not-so-dulcet tones of Lou Reed performing “This Magic Moment.” Although the song was written by Doc Pomus, the Reed trademarks are all on display: a dry, punchy guitar line skittering along with a hint of menace; a halting voice somewhere in the tonal twilight zone between Christopher Walken and James Earl Jones; waves of ominous drone; and a disconcertingly jaunty bass line — the whole package a paradoxical mix of overwrought emotion

This article appears as “The Turbulent Lou Reed” in the October 14, 2019, print edition of National Review.

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