Taking a walk on the wild side.

December 13, 2018

Submitted by: Donna Lind

Lake Street in downtown Miller was aglow with the twinkling lights of the season and lined with cars as fans and music lovers alike descended upon the community for the Lou Reed Retrospective last Saturday evening.

Inside, the Marshall J. Gardner Center for the Arts was festive in Andy Warhol-style silver helium-filled balloons. A slide show of iconic Lou Reed photos, courtesy of Miller-native Patrick Rose, played in a continuous loop on one wall. The 1962 black and white movie, “Walk On The Wild Side,” based on the Nelson Algren book of the same name played in a continuous loop on the opposite wall. Seats soon filled up and more chairs were brought out to accommodate a packed house to hear Rolling Stone Magazine contributing editor, Anthony DeCurtis speak about his biography, “Lou Reed, A Life.”

Co-founder of the Nelson Algren Museum, Sue Rutsen, opened the evening with a short history of the museum. Algren’s connection to the singer/songwriter is the only number one hit single Reed enjoyed, his 1972 song “Walk On The Wild Side” which was titled as a nod to Algren’s book of the same name. After an impressive list of accomplishments and accolades, Rutsen introduced DeCurtis and turned the evening over to him.

DeCurtis began by reading two excerpts from the book, stopping every now and then to underscore the biography with anecdotes and recollections from his relationship with Reed. One of the excerpts centered around Lou Reed’s connection with Indiana, John Mellencamp and Farm Aide. The other excerpt spoke about the origins of Reed’s iconic song “Walk On The Wild Side.” After the readings, DeCurtis opened the floor to questions and filled another 30 minutes with fascinating stories and insight into Reed’s persona.  It was evident that DeCurtis and Reed shared a relationship that went beyond professional courtesies.  

DeCurtis took a short break to sign copies of his book which was on sale along with the Nelson Algren biography, “Algren” by Mary Wisniewski. Then DeCurtis joined a live band on stage and impressively performed several Lou Reed and Velvet Underground favorites to the crowd starting with “Sunday Morning” and including “Walk On The Wild Side” about three-quarters into the set. He finished the set with “Sweet Jane,” “Sister Ray” and “White Light White Heat.”

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