Reflect What You Are, in Case You Don’t Know

lou-reed
“I find it hard to believe you don’t know
The beauty that you are.”
— Lyrics from “I’ll Be Your Mirror” written by Lou Reed

Earlier this week, last Sunday to be exact, musician Lou Reed passed away at the age of 71. (NOTE: the obituary might be the best I’ve read). That day there was a large outpouring on my social media timelines from my friends, including tracks from his hits and full albums from YouTube. Reed’s reach even extended to ESPN this week.

Though I knew his status as a rock icon and knew several of his songs with The Velvet Underground, I’m almost ashamed to admit that I hadn’t delved into his catalogue and listened to his work.Lou Reed

Naturally in times like these, I jump on board and put the album on repeat, finding a new favorite track each day to complete the album.

Before I did that however, there was one post on my Facebook timeline that jumped out at me on Sunday. One of my favorite musicians, Beck, posted a studio music video during his “Record Club” experiment from a few years of “Sunday Morning,” the opening track to the famed album, The Velvet Underground & Nico.

As I expected, it was a fantastic cover. I had heard Beck cover Reed’s tracks before but I had never heard his rendition of Sunday Morning.

I decided to purchase The Velvet Underground & Nico during my lunch break Monday afternoon and listen to it while I worked away in the office. I didn’t stop listening to it until 1 a.m. and even while I was trying to sleep, the sound of the unbalanced harmonies on the album were resonating in my head and it was glorious.

It was rinse, wash and repeat on Tuesday. By Wednesday, I was BeckHansen2013searching for other artists renditions of the songs. It’s when I found that Beck had covered the entire album during his “Record Club” project. Listening to his renditions of these songs, I realized that Beck’s musical tendencies that he’s performed with throughout most of his career are simply an echo of Reed’s music. After reading this Beck interview from Rolling Stone on Halloween night, it all made sense, if it didn’t already.

It prompted me to write this post and share the musical experience I’ve experienced the last four days. Assembled below are a collection of YouTube links to tracks from The Velvet Underground & Nico as performed by the band and Beck, in order by album listing.

I don’t think there’s any way to categorize Reed as a musician, the way he wanted it I’m sure. The only way I can surmise was that Lou Reed was an underground David Bowie. Some may disagree, but I’ll defer to the man on this one.

“And if Epiphany’s terror reduced you to shame
Have your head bobbed and weaved
Choose a side, to be on.”
— Lyrics from “The Black Angel’s Death Song” written by Lou Reed and John Cale

 Track Title Artist Artist
 Sunday Morning The Velvet Underground  Beck
 I’m Waiting for the Man The Velvet Underground  Beck
 Femme Fatale The Velvet Underground  Beck
 Venus in Furs The Velvet Underground  Beck
 Run, Run, Run The Velvet Underground  Beck
 All Tomorrow’s Parties The Velvet Underground  Beck
 Heroin The Velvet Underground  Beck
 There She Goes Again The Velvet Underground  Beck
 I’ll Be Your Mirror The Velvet Underground  Beck
 The Black Angel’s Death Song The Velvet Underground  Beck
 European Son The Velvet Underground  Beck

As a closing theme to this post in the true spirit of covering other’s people music… The Velvet Underground jamming Booker T & The M.G.’s classic “Green Onions” in studio. You can here Reed in the background talking to Nico teaching her a song, according to the description.

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