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Great American Novel: A Lou Reed Discobiography

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Great American Novel: A Lou Reed Discobiography

Sire Records

Great American Novel: A Lou Reed Discobiography

“Between thought and expression lies a lifetime,” Lou Reed sang on the Velvet Underground’s 1969 song “Some Kinda Love,” but after his death last month prompted a notable spike in album sales, a new generation is likely realizing Reed’s thoughts didn’t really wait that long for expression. He sang far faster than his consciousness could censor, a difficult and necessary skill for a writer, rare in a rock star. He kept the drug and gay references blatant, back when it meant no airplay, no Ed Sullivan. He’d received shock treatments as a teenager to “cure” his bisexuality and found solace in narcotics, and if it left him divided against himself, such tortured transfiguration was also the stuff of great literature, a la Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams, and he knew it. “I always thought that if you thought of all of it as a book then you have the Great American Novel, every record as a chapter,” he told Rolling Stone in 1987. “They’re all in chronological order. You take the whole thing, stack it and listen to it in order, there’s my Great American Novel.”