I am putting aside what was ready for today as I have been thinking about Lou Reed's passing. And I can't say that I was a fan. I don't own any of his records and we couldn't afford the tickets to his concert in Arles' Antique Theatre a few years back. But I am an admirer. Because I know enough about him to have seen that he was true, to himself and to what he wanted to create. He was...a word that I tend to dance around gingerly these days...authentic.
Let's see how that word is defined... well, there are actually quite a few options in Merriam-Webster but I'll choose what suits me: "Authentic: real or genuine, not copied of false. True and accurate. True to one's own personality, spirit or character." And interestingly, as related to music: "of a cadence: progressing from the dominant chord to the tonic." My musicians friends, is that appropriate for his music? Tell me, I am curious.
I am ambling towards a question and feel free to answer or not as it suits you. I know that there is talk in the popular parlance of "living an authentic life" but there seems to be so much space around that idea that I am not sure what to make of it. Or maybe I have put upon it a sticky veneer that is ready to be wiped away. Mr. Reed might have shredded such a feel-good cliché on his guitar while imperceptibly nodding his head in time.
And yet, we all need comfort. Reassurance. So often we look outwards for it but if I can remember, I will tell you along with myself that it is there within, that diamond bright of true. Real or genuine, not copied or false.
What does authenticity mean to you? Does it mean the same thing as "being true"? Is it something that matters in your conscious thoughts or efforts? If I am being honest, really honest, I don't have an easy answer myself or at least not one that I could explain quickly. But I have a feeling that it is not in the absolute nor in the gigantic. Not all of us can soar through a life but we do, each of us, have our wings.
I am going to read Ben Ratliff's article on Lou Reed this afternoon. If you would like to join me, you can find the link here.
And I will close by saying that I did wait on Lou Reed once in New York, while he was dining outside on a warm summer evening, leaning in closely to his companion, Laurie Anderson. I am no gossip but I find it worth mentioning that while Lou Reed will remain acclaimed in music history as a "punk poet" the man I saw that evening was every inch a gentleman.