Lou Reed's death received an outpouring of response from artists (Spin and Rolling Stone collected statements from pals and bandmates John Cale and David Bowie, among others), including Will Sheff's essay on Gawker today. Sheff is the frontman and creative mind behind Okkervil River, and co-founded Shearwater with Jonathan Meiburg before leaving to focus full time on Okkervil. His essay articulates what it means to lose Reed both as a fellow artist and a fan.

Sheff traces his own career as it was affected by Reed, starting with how he was introduced to The Velvet Underground to the one time the two artists met. In describing Reed's influence, Sheff also points to what made him so innovative as a songwriter:

"That music changed something in us and changed what we wanted to be. We didn’t want to make people happy. We wanted to make people hurt. We wanted to make music for adults, music that didn’t lie to you and feed you a line of shit. And then if we did make happy music, that happiness would have a genuine impact on people because it would be real happiness, happiness that coexisted with the real knowledge of pain. That happiness—like the happiness in “Sweet Jane”—wasn’t false. It was something you could really hold on to."


Okkervil River's latest album, The Silver Gymnasium, is out now, and the group is currently on tour.