Transcript:

Speaker I think well, firstly, waiting for the man I think is probably the most important of the four anyway. Then manager brought back an album. It was a it was just a plastic demo album of Velvet's very first album in 1965 ish something. And he was particularly pleased because Warhol had signed the sticker on the middle. I still have it. By the way, I still have that album. And he said, well, I don't know why he's doing music. This music's as bad as his painting. I'm gonna like it. So I've I'd never heard anything quite like it. It was a revelation to me.

Speaker And that's and so it influenced your writing and music in some way.

Speaker I think that.

Speaker Yes, tentatively, it influenced what I was to do for the next few years.

Speaker I don't think it outrightly, I don't think I ever felt that I was in a position to become an Velvet's clone. But there were elements of what Lou was doing that I thought would just unavoidably write for both the times and for where music was going. One of it was the use of the love of cacophony as background noise and to create a kind of an ambience that had been hitherto unknown in rock, I think. And the other thing was the the nature of his lyric writing, which for me just it smacked of things like Hubert Selby Junior recently being the last exit from Brooklyn, which under also John wretch's book Cities of the Night. Both books of which made a huge impact on me. And Lou's writing was right in that ballpark. It was Dylan had certainly brought a new kind of intelligence to pop songwriting. But then Lou had taken it even further into the avant garde and had it had its roots in both allare and Rumbo and that side, that other thread of history which isn't talked about very much, which it is now, of course, now it is history. But at that time it was merely a thread. It wasn't considered important.

Speaker In fact, I couldn't have asked for anything better. What you just said was wonderful. You introduced Lou that night as the king of New York and Chris walking this in the audience.

Speaker I felt awful afterwards. He. Hey, I'm the king of New York. Of course you were with us. Which you have all the royalty here.

Speaker I said, can you tell me how it.

Speaker Well, it's the New York that I want to know about. I think there were probably everybody has their own New York.

Speaker But for me, New York was always James Dean walking out in the middle of the road. And it was always the Fugs, the village Fugs. And it was always it was the beats. And it was so and it was that kind of the bohemian intellectual extravagance that made it so vibrant for someone like me growing up in quite a gray suburban tenement filled South London environment. It seemed to be that seemed to be the heart, the network of life, you know, and it's where we all wanted to escape to if if people were like me, we wanted to out and we wanted in to places like New York, far more so than the West Coast. Right.

Speaker I noticed that I wanted to play. It was so much fun onstage. I was so happy to talk a little bit what it's like to play those songs with little.

Speaker It's strange working with Lou. That's the first time we've actually worked together since the time that we may transpolar. And all I could see was luggage.

Speaker Huh.

Speaker But the interesting thing was because we had sort of a one period not see much of each others, that these were suitcases I didn't know about until the zero is in the. Either the last year or two, we've reacquainted with each other. And it's so nice at this time in our lives, I think, to kind of look back and see that we both had considerable artistic successes since we both began. And it's nice to feel that you've contributed in a fairly major way to how music, how your chosen art has progressed. Because it's the way that one wanted it to do when you started off. You think I know what I wanted to do? You know, I think both of us feel that we we did what we set out to do, which was change the course of the river a bit.

Speaker You know, this relationship between the two of you. That's a very rare trans-Atlantic connection.

Speaker Yeah. And music, I think that's extraordinary.

Speaker Yes. I think the influences back and forth.

Speaker I think there's a mutual regard for the differences between ourselves. And we both, as you obviously know, that we have very different backgrounds. Also, I think that we probably have different interests in life, but there are certain areas where we definitely mean. I think in visual terms and also in literature, I think we both have very similar likes, both Burrowes maps and.

Speaker He was told by Schwartz, General Schwartz.

Speaker Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's right. A teacher. That's right. Thank you, sir. There was for it. Yes, I am. Yeah.

Speaker He talks about that as being. He sees the great stories of Schwarz's as sort of a way that inspired him to write his own songs into a very condensed material.

Speaker And I know you've sort of quoted was John Lennon about how he said, I like it here.

Speaker Say what you mean. Yeah. Lennon, I think I alluded to grasp that very quickly. Say what you mean. Ryan, make it rhyme and put it to a backbeat. And Lou was always very concise.

Speaker And that's he never wasted words. And that's maybe a secret to your own writing, too. I don't know.

Speaker I think I get a lot more elaborate. I mean, I tend to be far more broken. But that's the petition.

Speaker And if you could just say what I mean. Eventually, I tend to go a long way around them.

Speaker I appreciate Transformer Course was a tremendously important transitional record for Lou.

Speaker And can you talk a little bit about that album? I mean, I walk on the wild side the first time you heard it, did you? How did it change that?

Speaker The thing is with Lou, he was so generous to work with. I mean, I was petrified. That he said, yes, he would like to sort of work with me and with me and in the producer capacity because.

Speaker I had so many ideas and I felt so intimidated by my knowledge of the work that he'd already done. I mean, even though they've sort of only that much time between us, it seemed like Lou had this great legacy of work, which indeed he did have, and that. It felt impertinent of me to kind of recommend that we do things in certain styles and certain ways. But he just gave the whole project over to me, and I really hoped that I wouldn't let him down. You know, I really wanted it to work for him and be a memorable album that people wouldn't forget.

Speaker Gary Flowers, the baseline.

Speaker Yes. He let me choose an awful well. All the musicians for. Ronson was a major, major part of the sax. Yeah. Yeah. Baritone sax one times in the top three in the world with Gerry Mulligan. His name is Ronnie Ross. Sadly, not with us anymore.

Speaker Here's Transperth.

Speaker Oh, I don't know things like that, huh?

Speaker It must have been maybe seventy three. I don't know. Who were you? Was it too. Seventy two indeed.

Speaker Your other stars in there very quickly. Vicious.

Speaker Vicious. I mean, I love the fact that they.

Speaker That the record company at the time I think was actually I did agree that Walk on the Wild Side was a classic and wonderful song. Absolutely brilliant. But I, I really wanted them to bring out vicious thinking, bring out Vicious as the second single. I'm not sure that they ever did, but I felt that would have been a great single. I think looking back on them, of course they're all such memorable, well crafted and well written pieces of work. It's almost like having a. I mean, there's so many songs on here that should and could have been and probably will be one day synfuels by other bands shortlists say let's give.

Speaker Let's give certain lines of love to blur and we'll give perfect day to Swade. Vicious to placebo, you see, I mean, there's so many songs here that could definitely.

Speaker Make up to Rupel, I suppose, in New York telephone conversation, I do, I take them glam rock, essentially glam rock.

Speaker Grant I'm sorry you've lost me the glam rock.

Speaker I know I have here that you invented it cause it's this it's still incredibly important today.

Speaker Twenty five years later that the influence of glam rock is just staggering.

Speaker Can you talk a little bit about you know, I think, John, I had a great line about glam rock.

Speaker This is rock and roll lipstick on. I think I'll say it again. I'll say it again. Yes. John Lennon called it cool glam rock, rock and roll with lipstick on. I think he understated. I think he's simplified. I think that they're probably why glam rock seems to have such.

Speaker Episodic longevity about it is that it really wasn't too easy to define. It was made up of so many nuances. It had the very straightforward, almost Puritan aspects of New York Dolls. They're quite easy to suss out what their focus was. But then I had all this kind of artsy, neo pretentious thing from the Brit art school love, including for for mostly myself and Roxy Music. We saw naturally enough, we kind of piled it on with innuendo from the DA dice and from the idea of the androgyny thing that happened with Duchamp and the photographs that he took from himself and all that. And we tried to connections were.

Speaker How would you describe again?

Speaker I think initially, more than anything else, just the verbal amusical zeit guys that he created his he gave us the environment in which to put our vision, our more theatrical vision.

Speaker He he supplied us with the the street and the landscape.

Speaker And we people in the movie, both the Andy Warhol I mean, I've talked to about this and he thinks it's just unbelievable.

Speaker What sort of energy do you think you capture?

Speaker I think that he was actually a very nice guy. I never found him anything other than polite, insecure, quite vulnerable, bitchy in the nicest possible way. Very funny and a little bit in awe of his own reputation. I never felt that he had the kind of confidence that so many others would have you believe. I never saw him as the man of steel and this kind of hard nosed manipulator. I think anybody who does well in their craft pretty much keeps on course and knows what they want and does thing and does things in a particular manner. And he probably did that as much as any of us did. But I don't ever I didn't feel that he was quite as assured about what it was he was doing or why he was actually as big as he was. I'm sure that you never really understood why.

Speaker Last question. Question. To tell me anything you went to about love one of them.

Speaker And also in Europe. Yeah.

Speaker Can you. It doesn't make any sense to lose. Is this a sad occasion of New York or a some American archetype?

Speaker Is there something you could talk about?

Speaker I think he got I think he.

Speaker As in an iconic sense, I think he. Projects the failing of the bad boy that we all. Especially when we were younger, so passionate. We want to be. I think he was the first man that you believe. There are so many doors that are closed on his life that you would quite like to unlock, but maybe you wouldn't really. There's a kind of there's a a melodious kind of nick enigmatic thing about him, which is. In the hierarchy of rock gods, that pantheon of mythology that we've developed. I think he's a needed diety. Absolutely.

Speaker And my question is, you've done it less, caring less. Oh, I'm sorry.

Speaker First time we met. If you could just tell me. I remember reading it was at the gym in New York in 1971. Does it bring back make it up?

Speaker Oh, why would I want that? The earliest.

Speaker I have a very funny story, actually. Oh, this is this is I told Lou he could not believe this. He thought this was hysterical. I first I first saw the Velvet Underground, and I think it might have been about 71. And a friend of mine who worked on Rolling Stone magazine at the time said, you're lucky to have come into New York this week. The Underground probably playing one of their last gigs at the Electric Circus. And it was probably the last days of the Electric Circus. So I went along and I got in the front row and I was the world's biggest fan. Was singing along with Lo every word. And they were all there. And and I thought, this is just heaven. I died and gone to heaven to come straight from Britain. First day in the States. I'm here in New York watching Lou Reed in the Velvet Underground. After the show, I went backstage and I knocked on the door. And Lou came to the door and I said, Look, I'm from England. I know all about your music. I said, you're virtually unknown in England, but I'm doing like a one man PR job on this bank. I think you're so great. Can we talk? So we sat down and we talked for about half an hour and I talked about the songs and all the writing, whatever. And it was it was just it was just so special for me. But a week later, I saw this journalist friend of mine. I said Lou was so great.

Speaker And he told me he said no. Lou left the band about a year ago. I said, So who was that? You said that was Doug you.

Speaker I said, Doug, you said that he didn't tell me that he wasn't Lou, and we were talking about songs like Why You Want Them Back. It was the most extraordinary thing.

Speaker And then then Lou told me a few weeks ago, he said, you said, yeah, you know, I did a book signing a few weeks ago.

Speaker And Doug, you was in the queue every day. All right.

Speaker Lou Reed. Lou Reed.

Speaker Lou Reed, Velvet Underground, Velvet Underground. Velvet Underground.

Speaker Say what you mean. Say what you mean, make it right and put it to the Lending Club.

Speaker Which is. Precisely.

Speaker See what you mean? Make it and put it to what it was the last night to a back.

Speaker Say what you mean. Make it rhyme. Put it to a backbeat. Say what you mean. Make it run. Put it to a bank.

Speaker Two things that were done at two minutes. Hi, I'm David Bowie.

Speaker Oh, I see, I see, it's just a sign of looking into the.

David Bowie
Interview Date:
1997-06-04
Runtime:
0:17:35
Keywords:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
cpb-aacip-504-9p2w37mb81
MLA CITATIONS:
"David Bowie, Lou Reed: Rock And Roll Heart." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 04 Jun. 1997, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/268
APA CITATIONS:
(1997, June 04). David Bowie, Lou Reed: Rock And Roll Heart. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/268
CHICAGO CITATIONS:
"David Bowie, Lou Reed: Rock And Roll Heart." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). June 04, 1997. Accessed April 12, 2021 https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/268