Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 161
Mon. June 17, 2012
“♫ You got that
crazy feeling/ now,
now, now/ you’re got
that crazy feeling/ And
you got that crazy
feeling, too/ I feel
just like, feel just
like you ♫”
I can tell already, folks, this is going to be a tough one, this one is for the parents out there of LBGT youths. You see, there’s an unfortunate lesson in the tragedy in the early life of one NYC’s most beloved street poets Lou Reed.
The year was 1959, a rambunctious young Lou Reed was taken by his parents to a psychiatrist who ordered electric shock therapy, three times a week for eight weeks. Imagine that, a teen in development, mentally and emotionally getting shocked, the agony, the suffering as if Reed’s parents and his Doctor were saying with their actions—change the person you were born to be, society will not like it.
Despite this, Reed conquered the shocks, the doubt and the hurt to become one of the most influential rock and roll poets of his and any generation. How many people would have just given up after shock therapy? How many people would have thrown in the towel after one of the most influential bands of the 1960’s, Reed’s Velvet Underground, broke up after Loaded. Reed kept coming back, writing, and recording, releasing new songs that mirrored his quest for the perfect mate.
Reed’s life as an artist on wax was the sound Lou Reed wanting to be accepted for just being Lou. How else would you explain all the beautiful love songs Reed had written before 1975? “Pale Blue Eyes,” “I Found A Reason” and even “Satellite of Love.” Love was something that Lou was searching for. But how do you find love when they tried to shock your identity away from you?
Lou found his equal in Rachel, a transvestite Reed met at a club in Greenwich Village. One of Reed’s band-mates, and producer Steve Katz described Rachel in Victor Bockris’ Reed biography Transformer when he said—
“Imagine, a woman in a man’s body, getting by as a juvenile delinquent. […] The whole thing about, was Lou a homosexual, was he straight? Rachel was physically gorgeous for any sex. Straight men were hitting on her all the time.”
Rachel was a man who expressed herself as a woman. In Lou’s shocked and bemused mind— Rachel was the perfect mate for Reed. The 1959 treatment attempted to stun Reed’s sexual desires but instead it made Lou attracted to gender-bending lovers.
Reed’s sexual orientation is not the point, it doesn’t matter who Lou preferred, what matters is what’s on the record—especially “Crazy Feeling.” Even though the doctors attempted to take away Reed’s free will—in the end, Reed survived with his creative voice and love of song and music.
Godfrey Diamond producer of Reed’s Coney Island Baby said of producing the sometimes difficult Lou, circa 1975—
“This doesn’t mean he’s always a sweetheart to live with, Nobody is, that really knows what he wants, and I could see on “Crazy Feeling” was beginning to come out. He was mad at everyone. But that intensity was good.”
Still “Crazy Feeling,” the opening cut from Coney Island Baby, is probably one of his most personal songs about Rachel. Did you hear the wedding bells in the background? This was no accident. In five years, Reed would be married. Still if “Crazy Feeling” sounds familiar, it’s because Reed was basically playing the chords to George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord.” A love song that echoed a solo Beatle’s chords must definitely be the formula for success for any artist but Lou Reed.
“Crazy Feeling” is more than just a love song from Coney Island Baby. It is a reflection of a life of Lou Reed’s career, filled with many valleys, but it’s the peek inside the mindset of Lou’s, to me, that’s the most fascinating. Even though, Reed may have created noise symphonies like Metal Machine Music, he was a true artist whose journey started on a table hooked up to electrodes while as a teenager which he overcame by becoming an amped up Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal chasing his illusive ideal of true love.
What ever you think about Lou Reed, I believe Lester Bang described Lou best when he said. “Reed is the guy that gave dignity and poetry and rock n’ roll to smack, speed, homosexuality, sadomasochism, murder, misogyny, stumblebum passivity and suicide.”
Lou Reed is the ultimate rock and roll survivor! If my parents had given my electric shock “therapy” like Lou’s I would have been a challenging and difficult artist too. Lou has every right to be furious at the world. “Crazy Feeling” is the sound of Reed on the verge of finally overcoming his past with this sweet love song. After falling for the lovely sounds of “Crazy,” I have a feeling, Reed would tell you that he subscribes to the theory —love is the only true crazy feeling that matters in this fucked up world.