Lou Reed: A Life by Anthony DeCurtis

Lou Reed: A Life

The essential biography of one of music's most influential icons: Lou ReedAs lead singer and songwriter for the Velvet Underground and a renowned solo artist, Lou Reed invented alternative rock. His music, at once a source of transcendent beauty and coruscating noise, violated all definitions of genre while speaking to millions of fans and inspiring generations of musician...

Title:Lou Reed: A Life
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Lou Reed: A Life Reviews

  • BMR, MSW, LSW

    I won this in a Goodreads giveaway, and just finished it...so many books, so little time.

    I knew the bare minimum about Lou Reed prior to reading this biography. He was basically the Rodney Dangerfield of rock and roll, "I get no respect." I now am compelled to listen to and study his catalog. It certainly sounds like he was at least 10 years ahead of the times musically and artistically for most of his career. His work is not for everyone, nor should it be.

    This book is very densely packed. I al

    I won this in a Goodreads giveaway, and just finished it...so many books, so little time.

    I knew the bare minimum about Lou Reed prior to reading this biography. He was basically the Rodney Dangerfield of rock and roll, "I get no respect." I now am compelled to listen to and study his catalog. It certainly sounds like he was at least 10 years ahead of the times musically and artistically for most of his career. His work is not for everyone, nor should it be.

    This book is very densely packed. I almost gave it 4 stars, but there was entirely too much conjecture and speculation in it. If you cut out all the guessing about Lou's feelings and motives it would have been much tighter and shorter.

    Recommended for fans and musos only.

  • Amy Leigh

    A must read for Lou Reed & Velvet Underground fans. The author knew Lou Reed well on a personal level and gave him unprecedented access to windows of his soul and parts of his life you will probably only read on this book. Definitely not a boring biography but an adventure that happened in real life!

  • TJ

    From his beginnings in the Velvet Underground to his final days as a New York City socialite with Laurie Anderson, Anthony Decurtis's unabashed account of the artist know as Lou Reed is the definitive statement of the underground music icon. In not only detailing Reed's life, personal and professional, DeCurtis examines Reed's music album by album.

    This is the best rock and roll biography I have ever read (and I've read a lot of them). Lou Reed: A Life solidifies Reed as an Artist with a "capita

    From his beginnings in the Velvet Underground to his final days as a New York City socialite with Laurie Anderson, Anthony Decurtis's unabashed account of the artist know as Lou Reed is the definitive statement of the underground music icon. In not only detailing Reed's life, personal and professional, DeCurtis examines Reed's music album by album.

    This is the best rock and roll biography I have ever read (and I've read a lot of them). Lou Reed: A Life solidifies Reed as an Artist with a "capital A", putting him among the ranks of literary likenesses of his Syracuse University mentor friend Delmore Schwartz, but also with his New York mentor Andy Warhol and friend David Bowie.

  • Phil Overeem

    I went into this hesitantly, after having read two other Reed bios and never having been knocked out by DeCurtis' work. But clearly it was a labor of love: while never flinching in looking at the subject with cold, clear eyes, the author makes a surprisingly fresh case for the humanity inherent in Reed's life and work. It takes DeCurtis a bit to get rolling; the early life / Velvets section is mostly what we already knew. But beginning with Reed's departure from VU, and especially extending into

    I went into this hesitantly, after having read two other Reed bios and never having been knocked out by DeCurtis' work. But clearly it was a labor of love: while never flinching in looking at the subject with cold, clear eyes, the author makes a surprisingly fresh case for the humanity inherent in Reed's life and work. It takes DeCurtis a bit to get rolling; the early life / Velvets section is mostly what we already knew. But beginning with Reed's departure from VU, and especially extending into his last quarter-century, he writes absorbingly, and even re-evaluates relationships and work that seemed settled for posterity. Recommended.

  • Bagus Anugerah Yoga

    When we are trying to talk about the Velvet Underground, it would be incomplete if we do not include Lou Reed in the topic. As the former leader of the Velvet Underground, he held a central role in orchestrating the group cultural influence through their iconic banana album aka The Velvet Underground and Nico which was being produced by Andy Warhol and also their impacts of the music in the decades to come. But the main topic of this book will not be about the Velvet Underground. Instead, it wil

    When we are trying to talk about the Velvet Underground, it would be incomplete if we do not include Lou Reed in the topic. As the former leader of the Velvet Underground, he held a central role in orchestrating the group cultural influence through their iconic banana album aka The Velvet Underground and Nico which was being produced by Andy Warhol and also their impacts of the music in the decades to come. But the main topic of this book will not be about the Velvet Underground. Instead, it will tackle some issues about the significances of Lou Reed solo works which he did after he announced of his leaving from the group.

    The book was being written by Anthony DeCurtis, a journalist for Rolling Stone Magazine who did the review for Reed's 1989 album New York. The book began with an introduction which tells the readers about the first encounter between Reed and DeCurtis in Cleveland airport in 1995. The talks began with Reed mentioning his New York album which was reviewed by DeCurtis, and the two became close friends afterward. While the two became friends, they had various talks through various encounters in some events, clubs, and while waiting for flights at the airport. It brought an intimacy to the book because the author knows Lou Reed on a personal level.

    De Curtis did a splendid job by telling the story of Lou Reed's life from each of his albums. By reviewing the albums one by one and also bringing the story which surrounded the circumstances behind the making of each album. For example, he told the story of the marriage between Lou Reed and Bettye Kronstad which was the background story behind the making of "Berlin", Lou Reed's 1973 album. He can tell the story well from the point of view which brings the audience to get to know Lou Reed on a personal level, but also bring out some facts that Lou Reed himself did not really want to hear about.

    Most part of the books is focused on Lou Reed's life as a solo artist so it might be a disappointment for readers who hope to read much about the Velvet Underground. Apart from that, "Lou Reed: A Life" is a concise definition of the life of Lou Reed. From the period of his childhood life in Brooklyn, his escape from Long Island, the trauma behind the electric shock treatment, his life with the Velvet Underground, until the time he ended up as a solo artist.

  • Kris Michaud

    While hardly revelatory for more-than-casual fans, this biography IS slightly better (and necessarily more complete) than Bockris’ from 1994. By covering the VU years quickly, DeCurtis gets readers thinking more about (and maybe even listening to) neglected works from “Coney Island Baby” to “Lulu.” In its evocation of the final, less-documented (but undoubtedly happiest) twenty years of Lou’s life, we can recognize a late convert to Flaubert’s credo: “Be regular and orderly in your life... so yo

    While hardly revelatory for more-than-casual fans, this biography IS slightly better (and necessarily more complete) than Bockris’ from 1994. By covering the VU years quickly, DeCurtis gets readers thinking more about (and maybe even listening to) neglected works from “Coney Island Baby” to “Lulu.” In its evocation of the final, less-documented (but undoubtedly happiest) twenty years of Lou’s life, we can recognize a late convert to Flaubert’s credo: “Be regular and orderly in your life... so you may be violent and original in your work.”

  • Tom Choi

    Frustrating and ultimately disappointing. There are no new insights into Lou Reed here, just recycled anecdotes that all all-too familiar for fans. This biography is more akin to a VH-1 Behind the Music than a serious — and worthy — examination of a misunderstood but beloved artist.

  • Derek Ambrose

    Of all the important musicians that have died of late Lou Reed is the only one that I feel is missing during my day to day life. DeCurtis's bio is wonderful. I devoured this book in a day. The combination of critical analysis and tales of their friendship make this a unique book. Highly Recommended!

  • John

    I always suspected that Lou Reed's prickly, controlling, arrogant, self-indulgent, elitist persona was mainly an act. As detailed extensively by the author, it is all true!

    I remember attending a Lou Reed concert in 1986. He seemed very distracted and disturbed by people standing during the show. He lectured those standing to sit down so others could see the show. I always thought it was odd that an artist was that controlling and concerned about the crowd standing (or sitting).

    What was most ama

    I always suspected that Lou Reed's prickly, controlling, arrogant, self-indulgent, elitist persona was mainly an act. As detailed extensively by the author, it is all true!

    I remember attending a Lou Reed concert in 1986. He seemed very distracted and disturbed by people standing during the show. He lectured those standing to sit down so others could see the show. I always thought it was odd that an artist was that controlling and concerned about the crowd standing (or sitting).

    What was most amazing, was the influence his music had on other artists. The impact far surpassing his popularity and record sales.

  • Ethan

    Like the lyrics to “Walk on the Wild Side”, Reed’s life was a fascinating mix of uplifting acceptance and messy details that come off more problematic in 2017. DeCurtis’ tome to his friend comes off as not only successful in its mix of building up and tearing down the legends around Reed, but giving thoughtful analysis of each of his albums, finding moments of brilliance where others may simply hear an aging icon filtered thru 80s trash sounds. The book moves along nicely through each album and

    Like the lyrics to “Walk on the Wild Side”, Reed’s life was a fascinating mix of uplifting acceptance and messy details that come off more problematic in 2017. DeCurtis’ tome to his friend comes off as not only successful in its mix of building up and tearing down the legends around Reed, but giving thoughtful analysis of each of his albums, finding moments of brilliance where others may simply hear an aging icon filtered thru 80s trash sounds. The book moves along nicely through each album and major work while always revolving around ideas of how Reed tried to change himself (often in reaction to himself or how he’s been perceived) as well as his ever antagonistic relationship with his family.

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