To: Mr. Lou Reed
From: Mr. Ira Brooker
Re: Concert for Dogs
You don’t owe me anything. In fact, with all of the joy and enrichment your work has added to my life, I probably owe you even more than the hundreds of dollars I’ve spent on your albums over the years. I just want you to know that I’m not speaking as some kind of falsely entitled fanboy here. No, I’m announcing this as a dedicated fan who cares deeply about your art and your vision: I give up.
I give up, Lou. Not on you or your music; quite the contrary, actually. What I’m giving up on is hoping that you’ll ever conform to my expectations. I understand that you’re not entirely satisfied with your status as a music icon, that you need to identify yourself as a paragon of artistic versatility. That means different things to different people. Tony Bennett, for instance, still croons with the best of them while also finding satisfaction in painting pretty good portraits of his celebrity cronies. Russell Crowe, Juliette Lewis, Billy Bob Thornton and at least a dozen other big-name actors fill the space between gigs by making mediocre music. And I won’t even get into the baffling sphere of celebrity fragrances.
But you’ve always been far too hip to take that easy a route, no matter how much Middle America yearns to smell like Lou Reed. When you expand your horizons, you push them in directions nobody else had on their radars. The past decade or so has seen you dabbling in theater, photography, Eastern meditation, literary myth-building and even mobile phone app-building. You’ve done a little bit of pretty much everything, except, of course, record a new album.
And now I hear that your latest venture is a concert for dogs. Australian dogs, at that. There was a time not too long ago when this would have upset me, both as a music fan and as a dog hater. I’d have been on the internet within minutes voicing my displeasure, wondering why you’re wasting your time with silly, pretentious art stunts rather than heading into the studio to wash the taste of The Raven out of my mouth. But that was then, and now I’m more inclined to step back, assess the situation and give you a heartfelt, “Huh.”
I mean, sure, there are things I’d rather see you do than spend 20 minutes playing inaudible notes for an audience more interested in Gravy Train than “Sweet Jane.” I’d rather see you do pretty much anything else, really. But I have to admit there’s a certain Andy Warhol/Laurie Anderson vibe to this thing, which makes sense, obviously. At this point, I’ve sat through so much of your weirdness that I’m content to chalk this up to just Lou being Lou. I can't do much more than smile, nod and count myself fortunate when you deign to lay down a track with Gorillaz or The Killers. If and when you decide to go back to doing what you do best, I’ll be waiting with open ears.
And if you ever release this dog concert dealie on CD, I’ll go right out and buy it like the tunnel-vision acolyte I am. I can’t say I feel good about that, but that’s my problem, not yours.
Saturday, June 5, 2010