Here are Lou Reed’s “[Female Name] Says” songs, ranked in order, with 5 being great and 1 being the greatest:
Honorable mention goes to “Jane Says” by Jane’s Addiction, a woefully underestimated song written in obvious homage to Lou, who was an idol to the young Perry Farrell. A friend told me a sublimely strange story about Perry and Lou. This friend was at Lollapalooza in 2009, and apparently there was a kids’ section of the festival. Perry did a set for the children (shudder), and at one point abruptly told them a little story. I’m paraphrasing some hearsay, but this is basically what he said:
- “Caroline Says I”
- “Lisa Says”
- “Stephanie Says”
- “Candy Says”
- “Caroline Says II” (especially the version from Berlin: Live at St. Ann’s Warehouse)
"Once upon a time, there was a man named Lou. Lou wrote the most amazing songs, and everyone loved to hear them. Lou was also the coolest guy who ever walked the earth, and everyone wanted to be like him. But then, when some of them grew up and got to meet Lou, they found out he was a jerk! So they didn’t want to be like Lou anymore.”
What a ridiculous story! But where would we be without ridiculous stories relating to Lou Reed? There are all the famous ones, and then there are all the ones that individuals carry with them. Like the time Lou and Laurie showed up to an event at St. Ann’s Warehouse in 2009 (it was an evening in which Ira Glass interviewed Philip Glass, believe it or not), and Lou sat right near the door, wearing silly grandpa glasses with flip-up sunglass lenses. They were, of course, flipped up and he looked like such a wonderful dope. That’s the story that I have about him.
About 45 minutes after we all heard Lou had died, I texted one of my dearest friends, who used to be my girlfriend, and who was with me on the night when Lou sat there with his sensible, efficient sunglasses. I texted her to say I was happy she and I had that happen to us. I hope lots of people did things like that this afternoon.
Of course, I sent that text about 40 minutes after I’d laid myself down on my floor and wept for a few minutes while listening to the aforementioned Berlin: Live at St. Ann’s Warehouse recording of “Caroline Says II.” I’m not sure why I cried, and it felt selfish and odd. “It was such a funny feeling,” you might say. Who am I to deserve crying over this man?
Indeed, who was this man who made me cry? Today wasn’t the first time he’d done it. It’s so strange — Lou, mean ol’ Lou, has driven me to tears more often than any other musician. Of course, “Heroin” was a repeat offender — fists clenched on a tile floor in 2003 and brain glazed during a bloated depression in 2006. “Caroline Says II” today, but also in 2009. His spoken-word intro to Antony and the Johnsons’ “Fistful of Love” in my sophomore year of college. “Perfect Day” on a number of occasions, and so on.
But joy, too! Ecstasy, even, and I only use that word sort of lightly. Walking past the Staten Island Ferry terminal in Manhattan during the first summer I lived here, on my way to see a friend, listening to “Sweet Jane” and thinking about a girl I was in love with at the time. The friend I was on my way to see now works for Lou’s literary agent, by the way — the literary agent who just confirmed his death to the NYT.
That friend texted me today to say how much of an emotional high point it was for her to meet Lou in the flesh — again, a type of conversation I hope lots of people are having today. Just a New York conversation / rattling in my head.