Rock legend Lou Reed’s tai chi book to be released
New York: Rock pioneer and poet Lou Reed began writing a book in 2009 about an art central to his lifestyle: tai chi.
But the project remained unfinished, remaining a collection of scattered notes when the groundbreaking music experimenter died in 2013 aged 71 from complications from a liver transplant.
These unpublished writings, including conversations with fellow artists, friends and tai chi practitioners, come out this week, a decade after his death.
“He started it, we wanted to finish it,” Laurie Anderson, the composer and artist who was Reed’s longtime partner, told AFP.
“The Art of the Straight Line” features essays and riffs by Reed, a meditation on his three decades as a dedicated tai chi practitioner.
The ancient Chinese tradition helps reduce stress and anxiety and is often described as “moving meditation,” according to leading medical center Mayo Clinic.
The book offers insight into the softer sides of the once tough Velvet Underground frontman, whose deadpan demeanor and cantankerous interactions with the press meant his irritable side took up a good deal of public attention.
“I don’t want to be too flowery here, but I want more out of life than gold and fame,” he wrote. “I want to mature as a warrior.”
“I want the power and the grace that I never had the chance to learn. Tai Chi puts you in touch with the unseen power of, yes, the universe. Change your energy, change your mind. “
Reed maintained a long association with Master Ren Guang Yi, studying for hours almost every day when not on tour.
He was so committed to the practice that he took his last breath “doing the famous Form 21 of tai chi with just his musician’s hands moving through the air”, Anderson said at the time of his death.
Reed began studying tai chi in the 1980s while still heavily on drugs, according to Anderson.
The prolific artist behind such classics as ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ and ‘Sweet Jane’ also penned the candid ‘Heroin’, a restless depiction of the consumer experience.
“It’s not the best time to start, but you know, when is the wrong time to start?” said Anderson, who was married to Reed at the time of his death.
“He was very, very persistent,” she said, referring to her tai chi practice. “He managed to go on for decades and become very, very competent.” (AFP)