So the great Lou Reed has passed away. It’s been moving to read all the tributes to him in the papers, and it is clear he had a huge influence.
I can’t claim to know much of his work, save for the evergreen “Walk on the Wild Side” and “Perfect Day”.
“Perfect Day” stands out for me in particular
as it was featured in the epic, era-defining film “Trainspotting”.
I read Irvine Welsh’s book during my first year at University – it was on the official reading list, I kid you not – and I thought, if this is what Dundee University rates as first class literature, I’M IN.
And then the gorgeous boyfriend and permanent distraction took me to see the film on one of our first dates. Reader, I married him.
But I digress. The recent passing of Lou Reed has prompted those deeply enamoured of his music and time in Velvet Underground to reflect on his gems and words of wisdom. Like when he said things like “I’m too old to do things by half” and “I tried to give up drugs by drinking.”
What a guy, pure rock and roll. And as I read these amazing quotes by Reed and found out more about his life, I thought what a brilliant character he would be in a novel. All the excesses, all that rebellion – a perfect protagonist.
I also thought about other musicians who would make complex and enthralling characters. Janis Joplin, for example. When I read Alice Echol’s “Scars of Sweet Paradise”, providing a detailed biography of Joplin’s life and death from a heroin overdose at 27, I cried. What a tragic figure Joplin was, but so fearless and talented. I finished Echol’s excellent book and went out and bought some Joplin compilations. I’m not brave enough to create a character based on Joplin, but if someone else did, I would read the book.
What do you think? Which rock stars do you think would make a great character in a novel? Or should such a fictionalisation be even attempted?
As John Lucas of The Guardian wrote in 2011, “Rock and roll is defined by its inherent theatricality and excess. To fictionalise it can at best seem like a poor imitation of the real thing and at worst seem hopelessly forced, or even tacky.” Do you agree?