The Life of Lou Reed: Notes from the Velvet Underground

Diversion. Sept. 2019. 416p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781635766387. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781635766417. MUSIC
In the years since Lou Reed’s death in 2013, multiple biographies and analyses of his work have been written, including this book, first published in the UK in 2015. Sounes (Down the Highway; Fab) covers the highs and lows of Reed’s personal and professional life. Yet, while the author claims his title is “detailed and revelatory,” the “extensive original research” seems to entail interviews with people on the far periphery of Reed’s life and a focus on the singer’s difficult or combative behavior in an effort to appear revelatory. Reed was widely known to be a complex and deeply talented musician who dealt with addictions and mental health issues exacerbated by drug abuse. Sounes ably covers every aspect with competent yet occasionally awkward writing. However, because he incorporates so many anecdotes in an effort to demonstrate Reed’s monstrous behavior, he often skates over the more substantive events in a superficial way.
VERDICT Reed devotees might appreciate this account, but newcomers would be better served by Anthony DeCurtis’s Lou Reed: A Life.
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