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Lou Reed: A Life Hardcover – October 10, 2017
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"If the goal of a biography is to bring its subject back to life, Lou Reed, DeCurtis's sympathetic but never fawning book, succeeds...Carefully researched and thoughtfully written, Lou Reed is the best Reed biography to date."―New York Times Book Review
"DeCurtis has given us a thorough and vivid portrait of an artist who, he shows us, was even darker than we knew."―The New York Review of Books
"Anthony DeCurtis was one of the few music critics Lou Reed read and whose company he enjoyed. After reading this sublime and subtle book, the mystery of Lou's respect for Anthony is revealed. Anthony is a great story teller, a writer's writer, turning pain into beauty the way Lou did in his songs."― Bono
"I am personally familiar with the depth, seriousness and sensitivity of Anthony DeCurtis's writing, and, of course, knew Lou Reed and felt the impact of his coruscating work. A brilliant artist has found a biographer with the insight to, as Lou said, "pass through fire" and be a definitive interpreter of both his music and his life."―Sting
"Lou Reed is Lou Reed!" ― Iggy Pop
"When most people think of Lou Reed, they picture the black, rotting heart of rock and roll, full of dissonance, decadence and decay. But as Anthony DeCurtis makes clear in his new book, behind the image and the rumors, Lou was one thing: a writer, a man who spent his life telling the absolute, painful truth in his songs - the truth about himself, the scenes he observed, and the world at large. His words were so powerful that the Velvet Underground had to invent a new musical language to match them. I'm not the first musician to pledge allegiance to Lou and the Velvets, and I won't be the last. Read this book, and explore the f*cking genius that was Lou Reed."―Peter Buck, co-founder and lead guitarist of R.E.M.
"Anthony DeCurtis captures the soul and the essence of Lou Reed in his terrific new biography of the brilliant, culture-shaping musician. DeCurtis' great gift of storytelling gives fascinating insight and perspective to Reed's complex personality and cutting-edge musical talent. This is a must read."― Clive Davis
"How did a middle-class suburban boy grow up to be king of Manhattan's wild side? Thanks to this groundbreaking biography, now we know. Anthony DeCurtis handles Reed's often-misunderstood bisexuality and curiosity about transsexualism with particular sensitivity, candor, and sophistication. A must-read for fans of rock and roll, New York City, or sex."―Ada Calhoun, author of St. Marks Is Dead
"An eloquent account of a harrowing life transformed by love in the end. Anthony DeCurtis does a brilliant job of synthesizing the disparate parts of Lou Reed's life into an insightful, moving narrative. I highly recommend it."―Suzanne Vega
"Lou Reed was one of music's most brilliant and complicated figures-an explorer, a provocateur, and always a true artist. With grace and grit, Anthony DeCurtis has delivered a revelatory and insightful chronicle of this most challenging rock & roll icon, and Lou Reed gets the biographer he deserves."― Alan Light, author of The Holy or the Broken
About the Author
Anthony DeCurtis is a contributing editor for Rolling Stone, where his work has appeared for more than thirty-five years, and a distinguished lecturer in the creative writing program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of In Other Words and Rocking My Life Away and the cowriter of Clive Davis's autobiography, The Soundtrack of My Life, a New York Times bestseller. DeCurtis is a Grammy Award winner and has served as a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee for twenty-five years. He holds a PhD in American literature and lives in New York City.
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"Lou Reed: A Life," is a masterpiece of biographical writing. Anthony DeCurtis, longtime writer and editor at Rolling Stone and a music critic with a connection to Reed in life, lays out the highs and lows of Reed's career, the various partners and drugs that entered and exited his life, and the belated but deserved recognition that the Velvet Underground and Reed's solo work received from the gatekeepers of popular culture. It's a tempered warts-and-all portrait, at once a loving appreciation and an honest appraisal of what Reed did in terms of his music and his life.
A child of New York and Long Island, Reed became the symbol of decadence first as the frontman for the Velvets and then on his own, through a solo career of many highs and lows. Recognition never eluded him, but chart success did; besides the punch of 1972's "Transformer," Reed rarely had a song or album in the top of the charts. No matter; as a cult artist, he became an inspiration to countless other bands and artists that followed. Without Lou Reed, we wouldn't have had David Bowie, Joy Division, Suzanne Vega, R.E.M., and so many more. Reed's influence, both as a solo artist and with the VU, is immeasurable.
His life was chaotic at times; it's not for nothing that both Reed and Keith Richards were the poster boys for "too drugged up to survive" the Seventies (though each did, in fact, survive, long after peers with supposedly stronger constitutions perished). His sexuality was always at the forefront of his art; Reed lived openly with a transgender woman in the 1970s, when such things weren't done, and he forever seemed willing to push the boundaries of what constituted "sexuality" in his life and his art. Though he settled down eventually (first with his second wife Sylvia, and then with Laurie Anderson), Reed never lost his edge.
Anyone who loves Lou Reed as an artist probably knows this already, but: he could be quite unpleasant at times. DeCurtis doesn't paper over the times when Reed was rude for the sake of being rude, but he brings an understanding to it that is needed. If you accept the notion that Reed was playing "Lou Reed," a character that kept the media at bay for the sake of his own sanity, then it makes sense. At some point, the role became reality. But in the end, Reed was much more than a quote given in anger to a pushy journalist.
"Lou Reed: A Life" is perfect for the Velvets fan and the lover of Reed's solo work (and of course, for the person who appreciates both). As Reed himself once put it, between thought and expression lies a lifetime. That lifetime is explored here, and it's a masterpiece.