"At the end of the ’60s [in Communist Czechoslovakia] good rock music was actually banned. There was one band in particular which lasted, which did not rename itself, which did not change. And their style of music was much influenced by the Velvet Underground, whose record I brought back from New York in 1968…its name was the Plastic People of the Universe. And there originated around it a whole underground movement in the dark ’70s and ’80s. Then they were arrested. With several friends we organised a campaign against their arrest [the Charter 77 human rights movement], and it was quite hard to convince some very serious gentlemen and academics and Nobel Prize winners to take a stand on behalf of some hairy rock musicians…and then some of us got arrested and jailed. But now [after the peaceful ‘Velvet Revolution’ in 1989 which caused the end of Communism in Czechoslovakia], members of the Charter 77 are deputies in the parliament, members of the government, or here in the castle. I myself was one of the first three spokesmen of the Charter 77. By this I mean to say that music, underground music, in particular one record by a band called Velvet Underground, played a rather significant role in the development in our country."
— Czech President Vaclav Havel in conversation with Lou Reed circa 1990, after the revolution. Quote is from a piece in the Faber Book Of Pop that I think originally came from Reed’s Between Thought And Expression lyrics book.
"In reducing rock-and-roll to its harshest essentials, the new wave took Lou Reed’s aesthete-punk conceit to a place he never intended. For the Velvets the aesthete-punk stance was a way of surviving in a world that was out to kill you; the point was not to glorify the punk, or even to say fuck you to the world, but to be honest about the strategies people adopt in a desperate situation. The Velvets were not nihilists but moralists. In their universe nihilism regularly appears as a vivid but unholy temptation, love and its attendant vulnerability as scary and poignant imperatives. Though Lou Reed rejected optimism, he was enough of his time to crave transcendence. And finally—as “Rock & Roll” makes explicit—the Velvets’ use of a mass art form was a metaphor for transcendence, for connection, for resistance to solipsism and despair."
— These sentences, from Ellen Willis’ essay “The Velvet Underground,” are exactly how I want to remember Lou Reed. The piece originally appeared in Greil Marcus’ ‘Stranded’ collection, but is reprinted in ‘Out of the Vinyl Deeps,’ the anthology of Willis’ music criticism edited by Nona Willis Aronowitz. (via undare)
(Source: judyxberman, via lonepilgrim)