Naomi Yang’s tribute to Lou Reed
In the wake of Lou Reed’s death on Sunday, it’s been heartwarming to see the round of tributes paid to his legacy as a maverick rock musician. His early work with the Velvet Underground, in particular, has cast a long shadow over multiple generations, including Galaxie 500, the seminal alternative rock band that Damon Krukowski, Dean Wareham, and Naomi Yang (inset) formed in the Boston area in the mid-’80s.
“Oh, we got that comparison all the time, but it was apt,” Yang, the defunct group’s bassist, says from the Cambridge home she shares with Krukowski, with whom she now performs as Damon & Naomi.
We asked Yang to name five Velvet Underground songs that changed her life.
1. “Femme Fatale” “Nico singing — so dark, but her trance-like delivery is heartbreaking. [Damon & Naomi] covered it at Ghost’s request when we made an album with them in 2000.”
2. “Sunday Morning” “It was co-written with John Cale. That celeste he is playing is like in a dream. There is a tenderness to the song but still has that rough edge that makes it a Velvet Underground song.”
3. “Sister Ray” “It gave [Galaxie 500] license to play as long as we wanted. If VU could do it, then so could we.”
4. “I’m Set Free” “The build and crescendo seemed impossibly beautiful to me. I think we spent a lot of time just trying to create as much of a mood as there is in this song.”
5. “Pale Blue Eyes” “The tambourine, the rolling rhythm, the laid-back delivery, the guitar sound — Galaxie 500 took a lot from this song!”