What Lou Reed’s Latest Playlist Says About His Work

“What I'm Listening to”: What Lou Reed's Final Playlist Says About His Work

(Credits: Far Out / Alamy)


During his nearly 50-year career, Lou Reed tried his hand at more genres than most of us could ever hope to hear. After starting out playing in doo-wop bands in high school, the songwriter eventually transitioned to the alternative scene, which he would rule for half a century, penning hits for future rock legends The Velvet Underground.

With his signature vocals and drum-driven guitars, Reed was the driving force behind the band’s alternative, avant-garde songwriting. Although they achieved limited success at the time, his contributions ultimately earned The Velvet Underground a place as one of the most beloved bands of all time.

When Reed went off on his own, he released glam rock with Transformerspioneer of noise experiments Metal Machine Musicalthough met with undesirable reception, and was wary of the possibility of binaural recording with Street bustle. Having released 20 solo records in his life and even releasing a collaboration album with Metallica, Reed has truly done it all.

With Reed’s discography so eclectic and provocative, it’s no surprise that his own musical taste was equally broad. His interest in other people’s music was as broad and all-encompassing as his own work, as evidenced by two playlists Reed curated in 2012, just a year before his death.

Reed lives up to his unpredictable nature in the first track of the playlist, which comes from the queen of rap herself, Nicki Minaj. Perhaps surprisingly for a guitar-loving New Yorker, “Come on a Cone” from Minaj’s 2012 record. Pink Friday: Roman Reboot opens a collection of songs.

The explicit and pulsating gabba-pop track may be a far cry from the gentle statements of The Velvet Underground, but it shows how Reed had his finger on the pulse of pop music. Equally surprising is the inclusion of Robyn’s brilliant electropop hit “Hang With Me”, demonstrating an interest in the future of pop music and an understanding of genres that many alt-alternative fans don’t typically delve into.

The playlist is not afraid to strike a musical blow to its curator or other listeners. Rather, it unflinchingly reflects his musical interests, effortlessly balancing between the hushed sounds of Daughter and the heavy death metal grindcore of Napalm Death, much like Reed’s own catalogue. His psychic influence is evident in the participation of garage rock favorite Ty Segall, while his jazzier side is represented by saxophonist Albert Ayler and genre stalwart Miles Davis.

Meanwhile, Montreal favorites Perfume Genius and Deerhoof show an interest in new age indie pop. Futuristic and inclusive, the playlist showcases Reed’s willingness to experiment and innovate, as well as his unflagging love for music in all its forms. It was these many influences that he would champion from his salad days and throughout his life, showing even in his last year on this earth that he sought to be enriched by every aspect of it.

You can find the full list of songs below.

Lou Reed’s What I’m Listening to Vol. 1″ and “What I’m Listening to Vol. 2′

  • “Let’s Cone” by Nicki Minaj
  • “Spiritual Revival – Live at the Village Theater / 1967” by Albert Ayler
  • “Ooby Dooby” by Roy Orbison
  • “Kiss” by Prince
  • “Life on Paper” by Fucked Up
  • “I Will Love You” by The King Khan & BBQ Show
  • “Waymore Blues” door Waylon Jennings
  • “Kali Yuga” by Georgia Anne Muldrow
  • “Flavor Bud Living” by Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band
  • Montreal’s “malicious intervention”
  • “Hello Mary Lou (Goodbye Heart)” by Ricky Nelson
  • “Bad Like Me” by Tom Waits
  • “Generic” by Miles Davis
  • “Nobody Asked to Dance” by Deerhoof
  • “Crazy in Love” by Anthony and the Johnsons
  • “I Asked for Water (She Gave Me Gasoline)” by Howlin’ Wolf
  • “It’s a Lonely Road” by Lonnie Johnson
  • “Shake – Mono” by Otis Redding
  • “My Heart is Weeping” by Etta James
  • “A Maid Needs a Maid” by Emily Haynes and “Soft Skeleton”
  • “Dark Parts” by Perfume Genius
  • “Molten” by Ty Segall
  • “Lullaby” by Leonard Cohen
  • “Lonely” by Dr. Dog
  • “Discretion” by Napalm Death
  • “You Don’t Care” Eddy Current Suppression Ring
  • “Youth” from my daughter
  • “Stick with Me” Robin

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