I woke up (well, logged on) to the news of Lou Reed's death, and, like many judging from the outpouring of grief and links to Youtube on Twitter, was reminded of listening to his music in my mid-teens. Just hearing the opening bars of 'Walk on the Wild Side' takes me instantly back to a summer holiday spent housesitting for a friend with extraordinarily trusting parents, do-da-do-do-da-da-doing along to 'Walk on the Wild Side' while dancing at a distance from the stereo lest the needle skipped.
Back then, music mattered to me even more than books did. Songs reached out as if they were written just for me. They could make me cry, cheer me up after another crappy shift at the supermarket, make me hopeful that tomorrow would be better. My folders and school diary were covered in scrawled lyrics that captured my mood from moment to moment. Morrissey featured heavily. He knew my pain.
These days I don't listen to that much music (well, not that much aimed at a post-preschool audience) and when I do I rarely feel an emotional reaction beyond 'that's quite nice' or 'that's just noise'. I guess I have a lot more going on in my life now than I did when I spent so many hours sitting alone in my bedroom with only my boombox for company, but it's more than that. I no longer turn to music to find comfort. I don't need to know that someone else out there feels exactly like I do, or need a catchy chorus to lift my mood, But for sad times I'll always have Morrissey.