The Portrait Series is a playlist-creating endeavor that Stewart has begun in 2015. Every so often, he plans to create new playlists that delve deep and extensively into artists. More so, these are designed to allow readers and listeners to explore artists a new, exciting light!
When I was a sophomore in high school, I was watching Elvis Costello’s ‘Spectacle’ with a friend. The episode featured Lou Reed, and at this point, he was entirely foreign to me. My friend insisted that Reed was a genius, though, and from that day forward, I was absolutely hooked on his music. Within weeks I had surpassed that friend dramatically in immersing myself in Reed’s catalog. All these years later, that discovery remains the most poignant of all for me - it changed my life.
The way Lou Reed viewed the world was spectacular. The King of New York had such a handle on the human condition and our society. Albums like ‘New York’ remain some of the most powerful poetry of the twentieth century. I frequently find, however, that my generation struggles to get into artists like Lou Reed because of their massive catalogs. My peers have no idea where to start or what is worthwhile pursuing. Artists with so many records are daunting. (And let’s be honest, all it takes is a kid stumbling upon ‘Metal Machine Music’ before anything else in Reed’s catalog to turn them off completely.)
Thus, I’d like to introduce my new ‘Portrait’ series. Every few weeks, I’m going to ‘paint a portrait’ of an artist that goes so underappreciated throughout my generation. My aim is to create painstakingly precise and curated playlists that allow new listeners to immerse themselves in an artist’s career. This is different than a ‘Greatest Hits’ collection, mind you - It’s a carefully chosen playlist that, in my opinion, encompasses everything that was exceptional about the artist in question. This includes territory a 'hits' CD would never venture into.
In this first entry, I’ve worked to create a playlist for the life and work of Lou Reed. Each playlist will be available on Spotify. I highly encourage you to get Spotify if you’d like to experience these playlists, even if it’s the free version. Of course, if you’re adverse to using Spotify, you can always take a peek at the setlist and recreate it on whatever platform you see fit.
In any case, I’d like to very briefly explain the Lou Reed entry to this series. I’ve made the decision to not include the Velvet Underground much - That’s stuff that is much more accessible. Reed's solo catalog is much more difficult to dig into, so that is the content I chose to highlight. These playlists will often be chronological, but with Reed’s, I did toy around with bending time to give context to different pieces. As you’ll notice, I’ve sprinkled Velvet Underground content throughout to do just that.
This first playlist consists of thirty songs. I hope that this series acts as an eye-opening gateway to new, remarkable artists for listeners. If you’re like me all those years ago, it may change your life.
Without further adieu... Lou Reed.