The Guardian: Neil Gaiman on Lou Reed: 'His songs were the soundtrack to my life'

October 28th, 2013

Lou ReedThe Guardian
by Neil Gaiman
October 28, 2013

‘There are certain kinds of songs you write that are just fun songs – the lyric really can’t survive without the music. But for most of what I do, the idea behind it was to try and bring a novelist’s eye to it, and, within the framework of rock’n’roll, to try to have that lyric there so somebody who enjoys being engaged on that level could have that and have the rock’n’roll too.” That was what Lou Reed told me in 1991.

I’m a writer. I write fiction, mostly. People ask me about my influences, and they expect me to talk about other writers of fiction, so I do. And sometimes, when I can, I put Reed on the list, and nobody ever asks what he’s doing there, which is good because I don’t know how to explain why a songwriter is responsible for so much of the way I view the world.

His songs were the soundtrack to my life: a quavering New York voice with little range singing songs of alienation and despair, with flashes of impossible hope and of those tiny, perfect days and nights we want to last for ever, important because they are so finite and so few; songs filled with people, some named, some anonymous, who strut and stagger and flit and shimmy and hitch-hike into the limelight and out again.

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