On October 27th, 2013, Lou Reed passed away in his Long Island home at the age of 71. A rock and roll pioneer who shaped the American pop culture landscape, Reed was known for his work with both The Velvet
Underground and his solo work. His biggest hit as a solo artist was 1972’s “Walk on the Wild Side,” hailed as a classic by critics and industry veterans.
Reed’s achievements as an artist had less to do with financial or commercial triumphs and far more to do with daring and trailblazing artistry. His most recent work was New Age ambient music, a grand departure from his earlier rock sound. His New Age meditation album, “Hudson River Wind Meditations,” was overlooked by critics but popular with fans of the genre. His final album was 2011’s “Lulu,” a progressive collaborative effort with Metallica. The album was comprised mostly of spoken word.
Reed could have continued to find commercial success and grow his brand and wallet had he continued to create the rock and roll sound that many of his fans desired. However, Reed was nothing if not a rebel, unwilling to bend to the requests of even his most die-hard fans. Ultimately, his passion was to create the sound that he wanted to create – not the sound that others wished he would create.
The lesson that we can all take from the life of Lou Reed is a simple one: While making decisions based on financial and professional factors is undoubtedly important, there is certainly something to be said for throwing caution to the wind and finding one’s bliss. While we all might not be able to eschew doing what we need to do in favor of what we want to do, we could all stand to take some time to do what makes us truly happy and find our bliss. Reed is nothing if not an inspiration for chasing your passion no matter what your critics say.