Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Open Letter To The Ghost Of Lou Reed

Dear Lou,
I heard yesterday morning that you had died and it saddened me not just because you were one of my favourite songwriters but also because you influenced my life for the better and I never got around to thanking you for that.
You see, Lou, I am Trans.
And, yes, Lou, it was Walk On The Wild Side that struck a chord with me and, yes, Walk On The Wild Side was the song that got me into your music and encouraged me to rent out, and subsequently buy, the Transformer album.
But I didn't stop at the Transformer album. I also got your greatest hits and the Coney Island Baby album and the Berlin album (which, for me, is your masterpiece) and the New York album (The Great American Whale and Strawman are still some of my favourite songs) and the Magic And Loss album (You should've seen my gran's face when she heard the lyrics of Harry's Circumcision!) and then I investigated the Velvet Underground recordings and then I checked out some more of your other recordings like Metal Machine Music and The Raven and The Bell and...
Every single one of them gave me a feast for my ears and also my brain!
But the song that always stood out above all the others from the moment I heard it; the song that struck a chord, lit a lightbulb, and knocked me sideways(!) is a song on the Transformer album.
No, not Walk On The Wild Side or Perfect Day or Satellite Of Love - all undoubtedly great songs - but a song you entitled, Make Up. 
You see, Lou, where Walk On The Wild Side was a document of gay and Trans culture in New York, to me, Make Up is more than a document - it is a song of love. A love of being feminine; a love of wearing make up; a love of wearing pretty clothes.
And, Lou, when I heard that song as a 15 year old boy, I understood the love of being feminine, wearing make up, and wearing pretty clothes...
But I did not understand that I could also be loved. 
I believed I was a freak, at best a curio, but on Make Up, you, Lou Reed - one of Rock's infamous tough guys - sang about your desire for a Trans girl!
And then, for the chorus, you sang
Now, we're coming out
out of our closets
Out on the streets
yeah, we're coming out
So not only could I be an object of affection but I could also stand proud in the spotlight as well!
You did more than rock my world with this song, Lou. You gave me hope! You gave me a dream!
And now I'm living that dream and I feel, in some way, I owe you my life because you let me know my life didn't have to be a dream but could, in fact, be real!
So, Lou, I am sad that you are no longer able to create music that I can hear but I am indebted to the music you've already created and can still hear.
I am also thankful that your music has been recorded for posterity for others, a little bit like me, to discover and be similarly rescued from the darkness.
So thank you, Lou. Thank you!

Claire xxx