Speaker And the sense there are just in your words, to talk about that.
Speaker Well, as part of the exploding plastic inevitable, they were they were functionary, if that's actually a word, you know, OK, you need to.
Speaker OK, I'll get the rhythm of this. Otherwise, you're perfect.
Speaker OK, well, the Velvet Underground, when they played with the exploding plastic inevitable were a soundtrack band. To some degree. They were a dance band. The idea was that they would play they were a part of the experience pop concerts at that time where you were an artist, you play your hit, everybody comes to see you. Warhol didn't look at pop music that way and he didn't look at pop culture that way. You know, his whole trip was it's an experience. It's a it's a whole there's just a lot going on. You pick what you want. You grew to what you want. You reject what you don't. If you don't like the movies, watch the band. If you can see through him, if you like the band, you know, dance, do whatever you want to do. But what happened was the Velvets became more important because what they had were real songs. There was not just a lot of noise, there was noise, but there was noise for a reason. It was madness with a method. And so what to any other band would be an opportunity to just jam and do midnight hour for 30 minutes. They would do heroin for ten minutes or they would do melody laughter for 30 or 40 minutes, you know, which is stuff that's actually on bootleg record now. So Warhol actually had the sense to know that the Velvets and Lou was a songwriter, had something that would enhance his notion of this traveling pop art circus, as opposed to just someone who was going to give him a lot of noise to back up films of his friends dancing. He knew that they were actually going to be art in and of themselves, but also part of the art that he was trying to generate through the entire entourage.
Speaker Wow, perfect. And then maybe talk about after that, after they really I think it was a bar and that kind of went around you. I talk about that in your own words.
Speaker Well, the Velvets, in their own kind of strange way, were a bar band because they did not have the kind of record company support that a lot of the the big 60s acts had, especially the ones from San Francisco and L.A. They didn't have the kind of clout that Columbia was putting behind the Byrds or that RCA was throwing at the Jefferson Airplane. People like that, you know, they having left Warhol, they actually gave up patronage. You know, he was like these Viennese kings that were like giving Mozart money to go off and write symphonies. Warhol was paying them whatever he was paying them to, you know, be a part of his thing. As soon as they decided to go on their own, they lost that. They lost the cliche, the cachet. I'm sorry. They lost the cachet. They lost the clout. And they lost a lot of probably support from their record company because in many ways they were signed because of Warhol. You know, they were signed as his project, his album cover, his whole, you know, pop trip. So they were forced to just tour and play like any other hard working band. They were playing, you know, second and third on bills underneath second and third rate bands, you know, with much better record company support. But what they did and I remember Sterling telling me that Sterling Morrison saying that, you know, they played where they were wanted and that was something that was both a key to their subsequent success as a legend and also meant that they had to be kind of focused and realistic about the kind of money they were making. And they had it hard as a working band, but they were, in fact, a working band. They toured all over the Midwest. They played a lot in the South. And in fact, they played a lot of places where a lot of the big name acts didn't go. They were always going to Cleveland and playing Lakoff. They were always going down south into Texas, in Austin, in Dallas. There are some amazing bootleg recordings from those from those days. And this is we're talking like 68, actually, a lot of 67, too, with Cale.
Speaker There are some amazing recordings of Cale with the Velvets at Lakoff, you know, the legendary, you know, Sister Rey, you know, bootlegs that are out there.
Speaker But they were working band. What they did was what they did was they played remarkable songs, but they played them as a band that, you know, needed to go out and connect with people. And they really did want to connect with people. However, they were very particular about the people they connected with. You know, they weren't interested for playing, you know, interested in playing for just anybody. They wanted people to listen to what they were doing to relate to them and to, you know, to some degree understand what it is they wanted to accomplish. There's one amazing bootleg that's been around for years. Part of it was on an actual record at one point of them playing in Texas. And the show opens with Lou asking the audience, you know, do you want two short sets or we could just play one long one. Do you people have school tomorrow? You know, how about those Dallas Cowboys? You know, he's just rapping with the audience as if they're like friends and then they go on and play for, you know, a good hour and a half to two hours, you know, doing all of these remarkable songs. So as a as a working band, they were extraordinary because they they worked hard and they worked under extraordinary circumstances with without the kind of support that a lot of a lot of musicians were getting. There was a lot of money floating around in the 60s for rock and roll. The Velvets weren't getting in.
Speaker Stop for a second. What is all that noise?
Speaker All right, we just stop for a second, but I made it perfectly frank that you can not keep your cool and try to keep my mouth setter because I just think it looks cooler and don't cut his head off unless you're really going in tight.
Speaker I'm trying to avoid the point at the top. Yeah, OK.
Speaker So whatever the question was always about, OK, I.
Speaker Let me see if I can address this in a way that gives you the intro you want, because basically you're asking me about the difference between the audiences that they play to.
Speaker I think maybe a big part of the flaw was that they turned their backs on the audience. Right. OK, hippie love takes care of their audience. Yeah, that's OK. Is that true or isn't it true or is it a progression over the way as a solo artist? All right.
Speaker Well, I think contrary to the general reputation that the Velvets had as a live band, they were not aloof and they were not snobs. They were anything but snobbish. But the reputation and the lore about them, you know, turning their backs on audiences, just turning up the amps and walking away and have to remember that they actually played to two different kinds of audiences. The first group of audiences were people that basically hated them. You know, they ended they started out playing on their own just before Warhol when they were doing the stuff in the village. You know, people hated them. The club owners, you know, telling them to get out. Don't play Black Angels Death song one more time. Well, these guys were punks. They were essentially punks and attitude and that you don't tell us what to do if you're paying us to do our thing. This is our thing. You don't like it. You know, we're leaving. So a lot of times when they were playing with Warhol, then a lot of the audiences they were getting were celebrities. They were like the IT crowd in the in crowd and this crowd. And, you know, and they're more snobs, essentially, you know, people in films, people in art who think they all know what's going on. In fact, Sterling, John, Lou, they were already artists. They already knew about drama. They knew about theater. They knew about classical music. They knew all the cold. So for them to then be told, well, just be a party band, no way. You know, we will give you feedback. We will stand in the shadows and we will turn our backs if we feel like it. However, when they started going out on their own, they were actually playing to people who came to see them, people that small coterie of fans and hardcore who had heard the records, made the connections and wanted to see them live. They wanted to see the music for themselves. And so they paid attention. And I know Maureen told me once about like a guy who used to just drive by motorcycle from gig to gig and follow them around. You know, it was, you know, velvet heads. But the fact was that these were people that really wanted it. It was not a big crowd, but it was a crowd that was there for them all the time. And those were the people that they played directly for.
Speaker And as far as you know, stage presence goes, you know, leaping around and asking people to sing along. You know, that was just not their nature. It didn't mean they were snobs. It meant that they had other things on their list of priorities that were a lot more important. Playing, loud, playing, hard playing, soft playing, you know, playing the songs so that they bring on life changing arrangements.
Speaker There are multiple versions of Sister Rae at all kinds of tempos, at all kinds of volumes. So the idea that they were snobs or that they had this reputation for being hard asses on stage, they were hard, but they are not asses.
Speaker I'm sorry. It's a great.
Speaker You know, I'd like to talk about now before we get out of this.
Speaker Moment is the sound of the billboards having to try and describe this sort of sound and also in the context of what the generations later taken from that sound.
Speaker Well, the sound that the Velvets had was a lot more complex than you would think from actually just listening to the, let's say, the first three records, the fourth one being much more pop and kind of commercially oriented. But you listen to the first three records and basically what you think you hear is really loud, ugly noise and then really soft ballads. There was actually a lot more interplay between the two styles and two grades of volume. But because they worked at such extremes, I think initially people found it hard to understand why something like European Sun, which is just, you know, flat out intensity, you know, squalling, atonal, whatever, you know, there's no word for it actually, you know, could be on the same record. Next, I'll be your mirror or femme fatale. But they were they were dealing with these things. You know, they were dealing with an emotional range and trying to illustrate it through volume, through texture. And unfortunately, the first record was not recorded under ideal circumstances. And in fact, none of their records ultimately were recorded under ideal circumstances. So I think that the kind of textures and the kind of differences in an emotion and in drama that they wanted to get to never really came across. You end up having these either or situations or something like murder mystery, which is this long, almost Joycean type of thing with two different voices going on at the same time. And the speaker, you know, they were trying to get a particular effect. You know, the engineers that they were dealing with, these guys are not exactly hip to this, you know, or if they were, they didn't they didn't know how to to grok it, you know, how do you deal with Sister Ray? Well, you turn up the pots and then you walk out of the room for 17 minutes. As the legend goes, you know, it's you couldn't really produce the Velvets and the Velvets were probably, you know, they had the freedom to make their records the way they wanted. That also could be problematic because there were probably times when they weren't quite sure how to translate what they thought or what they felt or what was in blues songs or in his mind or what John wanted to bring to the party or what Sterling was doing, how to get all of that into something that would be complete on record and be there for posterity. So in a sense, their records are like snapshots. They're portraits of them at a particular time, white, light, white. He has a lot of the intensity of them being on the road and being cut loose from Warhol and tensions probably between Lou and John as well. You know, and, you know, all just sort of like gradually coming to the fore and ending up on that record, which was recorded at lightning speed. You know, same thing with the third record, more acoustic, more laid back, but also a band that's kind of weary. You know, they've been through a lot. You know, they went from literally starting out at the top with Warhol to like going down and playing bars and playing, you know, dealing with management and record company jive. You know, you can you can hear that weariness in there. And so even though their records are not perfect in the sense that I think that they are not complete realizations of everything they had in mind, they capture a lot about who they are at those particular junctures. It's almost like kind of a movie or a novel in progress was always said that his songwriting is like a novel in progress. I think the same is true of the Velvets records. It's like their autobiography in progress, except they never got to finish it. So, again, except they never got to finish it.
Speaker Talk about did you can't I'll be your mirror as a sort of.
Speaker This perfect way of seeing Lou innocense and.
Speaker Oh, that's an interesting.
Speaker I you know, I should I would have listened back if that was a particular song, I would have listened to song to the lyrics because the lyrics are very key.
Speaker And I got the sense. I see. And I know Lupin's ever said, yeah, always without the mirror.
Speaker So it's now he's been doing that recently. OK, that's well, that's a new trick because he didn't do that. I saw him last year and he was, you know, starting out with the more, you know, Sweet Jane, you know, pick up the crowd stuff with a very beautiful version about the mirror.
Speaker Oh, like at the Supper Club and the Knitting Factory. All right. So you have that book. Yeah.
Speaker I just stopped the easier to.
Speaker So he told me that in a way that's the way you see.
Speaker It's right there in the first line so that we really, you know, you look OK, I'll be your mirror.
Speaker It's like what you are. That's what a songwriter does that sort of writer does. You know, he might be looking in the mirror at himself for all you know. But, you know, looking at somebody, you know, reflecting that back through what he does, that's in a sense, that's what a reporter does. That's what a poet does. It's what any writer does. They are a reflection or a refraction of the things that go on around them, whether they go on to them or at them or from them, you know, all of the different variations that you've got. That's what he does. You know, that's as a writer and. It's you know, he's always talked about well, you know, my songs are never really 100 percent autobiography, but there are always portions of some kind of either autobiography or experience or some reference to something that he saw that, you know, was able to come back through through this work. You know, and that was one thing that he always said Warhol did, was, you know, Warhol said, you know, here, you know, here's a subject, you know, here's a line. You're vicious. You hit me with a flower, you know? Right. Something like that. Or, you know, and Lou's talked a lot about simply being at the factory. You know, people say, well, how could you write all these songs? You know, how could you not you know, what was there to miss? You know, what is it you're not getting here? That all of these people are running around, they're doing drugs, they're making movies, they're having sex deviant or otherwise they're you know, this whole you know, this world has been basically built around him by Warhol populated. And so, you know, you see all this stuff. Why not write it down? Why just let it go off into the ether, into some other place? You know, and I think that's an interesting thing about this third section here. I find it hard to believe you don't know the beauty you are. It's like as a writer probably finds it hard to believe that people don't get that this is real, that this is, you know, a viewpoint of the world, that it's that it's his novel. It's his book. It's all of the literature that he aspired to. And, you know, coming out in these in this form, it's not in prose. It's not in like free verse. It's in a pop song. But since when is a pop song, not literature? It doesn't have to be and it doesn't have to follow all of the rules and, you know, all the stuff that they teach you in school. But it's literature nonetheless. You know, I'll be your mirror. You know, it could be addressed to a person. It could have been it could be addressed to a very specific person in a romantic situation. Or it can simply be, you know, I'm here, I'm a mirror. I'm bringing it back. This is what I've seen. This is what you did, you know, and this is a new way to see it. This is my way to see it.
Speaker Let's look down the Grand Canyon that a little bit of talk of that right in the first person, but then many people always sort of Herman Melville, why is it that we ask, why is it in pop songs and rock and roll that if you write the first person, we totally assume it's you and it's autobiographical, whereas if you're Shakespeare, you're Edgar Allan Poe or whoever it is, you can get away with writing in that first person.
Speaker Actually, that the idea that you can write in the first person and it has to be autobiography, I've never understood that, that I just don't get it. You know, the kind of latitude that drama, drama, you know, writers, poets, anybody, critics for that matter, you know, that they can have these, you know, this latitude of of style and concept. And yet in pop songs, it has to be that way. I think a lot of it has to do with the way pop songs were reconsidered in the 60s. This is very much, you know, the poet you know, the rock songwriter as a poet, which obviously comes from Dylan in great part. It comes from Lennon and McCartney and also the fact that these artists were then being taken more seriously. They weren't just puppets. They weren't just, you know, being dangled at the end of a string by, you know, these old school record company producers or, you know, somebody like Phil Spector. They were working on their own. They were taking control of their work. And therefore, by, you know, addressing things in the first person, all of a sudden it becomes I mean, mind I'm saying this. I'm telling you, things are blowin in the wind or, you know, you know, all the things that we then took seriously in the 60s. But in fact, popular music can be anything. That's the beauty of it. You know, it's there to be popular. It's there to appeal to people. So, you know, you can say you're not in love when in fact, you are. Why? Because you can you know, there are no rules for this sort of thing. The fact that a lot of what Lou has written as a songwriter has been taken. His autobiography is because of a lot of the extraordinary circumstances of his life, the things that we know about his associations with Warhol and the people at the factory, the things that went down with the Velvets, his periods and his solo career. You know, everyone assumes he did massive amounts of every drug available because he would pantomime it on stage at the Academy and Academy of Music in New York, you know, while he's singing heroin or whatever. So, oh, we see it. Therefore, it is you know, what he did, what he didn't do. These are all part of the fabric, you know, the material that he draws from. He even he you know, he has always said, you know, there is autobiography, it doesn't have to be 100 percent, it can be 50 percent. I actually I asked him this once. I said, you know, how much you know of a particular song is you. And he was he was actually, you know, doing percentages, you know, 50 percent, 85 percent. You wouldn't tell me, what, 50 or 85. But it was like, you know, this is the point, OK? Yeah, I actually I was I couldn't I can't remember. It's this was this was like in 89, this interview. But, you know, it was the same point I was asking. You know, people assume that heroin is about you. They assume waiting for the man is about you. They assume sister raise about you, you know, and as he says, you know, songs on the blue mass. You can run the entire gamut of his of his catalog. There's a lot of him in there. It changes with every song. Why? Because he can do it that way. He doesn't have there are no there's no prescription that he has to follow. And there's no such prescription in popular music anymore than there is in any other kind of music or any other kind of writing.
Speaker What about a song like Kill Your Sons? He talked about that little song, personal.
Speaker Well, something a song like Kill Your Sons obviously draws from a very personal experience, and he's never he's never denied that. But at the same time, if you listen to that song, OK, tell us what that experience is. Well, you know, a song like Kill Your Sons obviously relates to a very personal point in his life when he went through the electroshock therapy. And it's documented in books and articles and such. And he's never actually denied that. It's this is obviously a song that comes from a very potent place in his life and his, you know, his adolescence. But the reason that song is so powerful. And it's also because it's actually on a record that's not that great, you know, it's on Salli Can't Dance, which is, you know, even he admits is not that great a record. But the reason that song really just resonates is because it's something that so many of us at any age have gone through, either as adolescents or as adults. And it's not necessarily a hospital or psychiatric psychological thing, but the kind of, you know, cutting off, you know, from from a part of your your experience or going or some sort of intense trauma. And obviously, the whole parent child dynamic that that goes on day in, day out anywhere. You know, it's this is not simply something that went on in the 60s and it didn't go on. And like the dysfunctional 80s or any of that business, that's a constant circumstances change. Not everybody goes through something as drastic as he did. But, you know, that song is really potent and remains so, you know, when he performs it because it deals with very universal experiences grounded in something very personal and very intense.
Speaker Um, can you talk? That's great.
Speaker Can you talk about street house or maybe in the same sense because, you know, here's.
Speaker There are many different people in that one saw there, and I'm not I have to really restudy street hassle because that's 11 minutes long and yeah, and then it's got that whole then it's got that whole thing with Springsteen in it, too, which really kind of complicates the whole in some sense.
Speaker Well, actually, there is one Coney Island.
Speaker Well, there's also, you know, that song it's not one of his famous songs, but that song The Day John Kennedy died, which is on The Blue Mask. When I when I interviewed him several years ago, you know, we were talking we were actually talking about sort of like 60s culture. It was for a particular issue of Rolling Stone. And I asked him, you know, you wrote the song the day John Kennedy died, what were you doing? And he said, you know, I was in a bar at Syracuse, you know, and apparently it was the same bar where he used to go and hang out with Delmore Schwartz, you know, so this is really part of his college experience. And, you know, he just drew on it. You know, this is the way to open a song. This is what I did. You know, it's not, again, strictly an autobiographical song, but it was an entrance into something else that he wanted to say or something else that he wanted to get to. And yet he drew on something very specific, you know, timed literally to a particular day on the calendar to a particular event that everyone could relate to. This is what I was doing on the day John Kennedy died. So, you know, that's an instance where, you know, at least in those couple of opening lines, you know, that reference was entirely autobiographical.
Speaker You want to stop for a second? Yeah, of 19 parts of the whole album.
Speaker So it's a yeah, it's really an important song and it's.
Speaker Yeah, that's what I really would need to listen back to. So because it actually it isn't entirely complete chronology.
Speaker We have one year of almost anything else you want to say about the stuff before we kind of get out of there? You know, you could also if you wanted to. We're not rolling yet. OK, maybe about some bands today or just a whole list of things.
Speaker People you think are influenced by the Velvets, a song that.
Speaker And are you ready so.
Speaker Well, I don't know, they're just so there's so many of them couldn't even begin to pinpoint them. Because the other thing now, a lot of that that influence is not diluted, but it's sort of spread enough that it's it's a fact of life as opposed to some remarkable, you know, thing that can come in or out.
Speaker And you're done. Yeah, OK, we're ready.
Speaker So they said again, because Penn Jillette talks about that one that said Lenny Bruce and the influence. And then today we don't even understand it.
Speaker Yeah, well, with the Velvets, if you want to talk about who they've who they've influenced, you know, we could be here for hours because what they what their influence has done has really it's permeated, you know, certainly rock culture and pop culture and even literature to some degree, you know, in a way that you don't just sort of like follow a trail. It's kind of dissolved into the to the entire fabric of what's going on out there. You can pick particular people who have obviously spoken highly of of Lou and the Velvets and John and Sterling and all of them. Certainly, you know, the guys in RTM, Michael Stipe, you know, Patti Smith, David Bowie, you know, loads of them. And then there's that punk generation, you know, Kurt Cobain, Nirvana covering.
Speaker Here she comes now. I'm pretty sure it was here she comes now.
Speaker Double check that, but the the the thing about their influence is that it's so much a part of it now that it's in a way it's appropriate. It's something you don't have to remark on. It's not like you trip over it. When you listen to a record, it's there the same way people have been influenced by Dylan and the Beatles. And you know, or, you know, jazz musicians, the way they reflect the the the school of thought and inspiration from Coltrane or Ornette Coleman or Charlie Parker, whoever, you know, it's a fact of life. And that's kind of the best part of it. You know, they went through so much and were rejected so much in their original lifetime that I think their greatest triumph is that, you know, people can kind of take them for granted now. You know, they they are a part of it. You know, they are part of the pantheon. They finally got into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, you know, in a sense that makes them kind of a part of the establishment.
Speaker But that's what they deserved in the first place. That was the whole thing that, you know, Velvet's freak's in the late 60s and all throughout the 70s, you know, and moaned about, you know, nobody thinks the Velvets, you know, nobody puts these reissues, these records out. You know, we're all this and scratchy copies of the banana record and, you know, a little bootleg tapes and stuff.
Speaker You know, now it's like it's kind of almost like a Velvet's industry. You know, there box sets, their reissues, their books. There's TV shows like this one. That's good.
Speaker You know, that's that means that they made an impact that can't be erased. It's not something that was just temporal. You know, it wasn't fan based or fan club based or it was not simply a part of this one particular window of opportunity that they had. In fact, their window of opportunity wasn't big enough. They didn't get to do all the things they were capable of for a variety of reasons. And to have those songs that material, their performances now regarded as an essential part of music history, not just of the culture in the time in which they existed. I think that's their ultimate victory. They scored it took them a hell of a long time, but they scored and then started saying, OK, OK, we're ready.
Speaker So well, the the worldwide impact of the Velvets in particular is actually quite interesting, given that they never actually performed in their original lifetime outside of the continental United States, never played in Canada. I don't think they ever got, you know, much further south than Texas. They didn't go any further west in California. And yet there was a real cult following for them in England. At one point, Brian Epstein was interested in managing them. The Beatles manager was interested in them. And certainly Europe and particularly Czechoslovakia. You know, the whole there was a whole, you know, sort of like underground fan club of musicians. They're dealing with, you know, the communist regimes and that oppression and finding in the Velvets music and that of other very maverick bands like The Mothers of Invention and the Thugs, you know, finding inspiration in terms of what could be said in rock and roll and what could be said in ways that dealt with the issues that they had at home, their inevitable inability to play in public, you know, the kind of problems they had with secret police. You know, the things that you know, the people and the plastic people, the universe, the cheque band that were big Elvis fans. You know, I remember speaking to them once about, you know, the Velvet Underground and Lou and how those words were like, holy to them because they were emblematic.
Speaker OK, where was with those records? Oh, OK.
Speaker The the first all of the Velvet's records, particularly the banana record, white light, white heat, the third one, these were almost totemic, you know, objects to these people. You know, you couldn't buy them over there. So the tapes that were, you know, circulated around, you know, secretively, you know, we're very important. And, you know, Vaclav Havel obviously has spoken very highly of Lou and of the role that he as a songwriter and the Velvets as a band and Lou, as a performer as well, played in, you know, keeping the spirit of their resistance, artistic, you know, emotional, political, social alive. You know, that was you can talk about the worldwide impact of musicians and mostly these are registered and record sales or they're registered in, you know, magazine articles or the number of mentions you get on the radio.
Speaker The the way Lou has become, you know, a hero in in Eastern Europe, particularly at that time in Czechoslovakia. Now, the Czech Republic, you know, really shows that, you know, popular music does have an impact. It has a very strong social impact.
Speaker We don't always see it. Yea, because we're a democracy, you know, we can choose to buy whichever records we want, we can change the radio station, we can decide not to read certain magazines.
Speaker You know, at the time that, you know, people like Hovell and the people in the Czech resistance were listening to those records and listening to Lou and listening to the Velvets. You know, those were not options, you know, to do that was a political act and it was considered a contrary political act by the people in power. The fact that, you know, things have changed over there, you can't say the Velvets did it all, but there's no question that that music and the force of the songs and the force of what was being said in them was really, really important because it was emblematic of something that they wanted to do. And they took inspiration from that.
Speaker Any thoughts on different countries like Germany, Italy, and I know he's he's toured a lot. Yeah. Any thoughts there?
Speaker Before we talk about you see well, lose lose impact, particularly in Europe, has always been very strong. But I think there's something in what he does that kind of appeals to European sensibility. You know, there is a real it's a there's an emphasis on art. There's an emphasis on drama. It's there's a lot of there's actually kind of a lot of almost I don't want to say cabaret because it suggests a different kind of music, but that very theatrical thing that, you know, particularly came to the fore in Berlin, you know, Berlin, there's the name of the album. There's the name of the song. You know, there's an incredibly rich and provocative European sensibility to that record, which I think has, you know, goes through a lot of his music. But, you know, there's he's you know, I think the problem with the Velvets in America and Lou, as a solo artist in terms of commercial success is, you know, that's what happens when you speak your own mind and say your own piece. You know this he does not speak in commercial terms. He can actually write really great commercial songs. He was schooled essentially as a commercial songwriter. He worked at Pickwick Records. You know, he was writing Do the Ostrich. You know, it's his way of like, you know, starting a dance craze. But right there you can see the contradiction. He wants to start a dance craze and then he's telling people to, like, stick their heads in the ground. So, you know, I don't know what kind of a dance craze you're going to create, but it's not the sort of thing that, you know, is going to make page six of the post. So the kind of sensibility that he's working from, it's not mainstream, but it's but it's got a common thread to it's got a common resonance. That's actually a contradiction in terms like guess a common resonance, but it's it's got an impact. But the impact that Lou and I, both in the Velvets and as a solo artist has had, it's really been on a one to one basis. You know, his fan club has grown in very small increments and it's grown because people have been willing to invest time in what he does and listening to the records that he's made, both with the Velvet Underground and and on his own and different collaborations and projects that he's had. And I think that, you know, in it's possible that in Europe, you know, people have been much more willing to make that investment early on, you know, lose hit records in this country. You can count them on one hand. But there are important records that people have heard that they have related to and have made almost, you know, a personal connection with and I guess maybe in Europe, because, you know, a place like Germany and the populations are smaller, maybe he's been able to have that incremental impact on people to a much greater degree here. It takes a lot longer and it's a lot harder. I'm not sure if I answered that question correctly. I don't want to sound like a euro phobe.
Speaker Yes, I know now, but, um, I guess I want to go away for a minute. Oh, OK. Uh, can you talk about the little boy connection?
Speaker In what in what way we produce and transform transformer, I guess, and set us up to well, Bowis interest in Lou predates Transformer Corp by quite a few years.
Speaker There's actually BBC sessions that he recorded for the BBC Radio in England, and there are versions of White Light White. He you know, he was playing I'm waiting for the man on stage. And in fact, there's a this doesn't relate to Bowie specifically, but it just sort of shows what kind of impact he was having in Britain. There's a bootleg record of the Yardbirds with Jimmy Page playing in 1968 of May of 68 in Los Angeles, and they actually play Waiting for the man.
Speaker So this is, you know, long before Bowie has even come out into like Space Oddity. And, you know, Major Tom, you know, already people were aware of those records. You know, the Yardbirds had actually played with the plastic inevitable in Michigan, in my chronology is correct. There was an interview in the reissue they got recently with Jim McCartney in which he talked about, you know, being there with with the inevitable and being there with the Velvets. And so, you know, within a year or so, they're playing, waiting for the man. So the impact of the Velvets had was more by word of mouth. You know, they were crippled by the same kind of record company inefficiency, you know, elsewhere around the world as they were in the US.
Speaker But there was no question that there was a buzz about them. And, you know, Bowie's always a smart guy. He's a listener, you know, and he's someone who not only borrows and knows the appropriate, but he sort of uses and uses things.
Speaker It builds on things that he's heard. And at the same time, I think that he was actually such a genuine fan that he wanted to be almost like a patron. Here was a guy that he genuinely, genuinely admired, whose music he knew, whose music he was eager to perform himself.
Speaker And now all of a sudden, you know, he Ziggy Stardust, you know, he's got all of this power. He can actually do the sorts of things, you know, with artists that he like, you know, with Lou, with Iggy Pop, the Stooges. I'm sure, you know, making a record like Transformer was his way of kind of, you know, not only, you know, bringing Lou to an audience, bringing Lou to his audience, but also showing David's audience that a lot of what they were hearing and David, bits of that were little. You know, check this out. This is some of the sauce. This is a guy that you should be listening to. Why? Because I've learned a lot from him.
Speaker Can you tell us about the Lambright and describe what he looked like, but what is this period because it's so different from the years before?
Speaker Well, Lou was beyond glam, if you really think about it. You know, there was his kind of glam was like really intense. You know, it was it was very it had a serious New York after hours, you know, vibe, you know, just shy of being sort of thug like, but really intense. You know, we think of glam now is like, you know, spangled heels, you know, three feet high and everyone's got a little glitter stars and this kind of giggly bisexuality that David that was sort of like be gotten from from Bowie and then getting into bands like Sweet and Gary Glitter. And it almost becomes like a teeny bop thing. You know, Lou Reed's one hit, you know, from that period walk on the wild side, it almost seems kind of like casual and relaxed. It's got that jazzy rhythm. It's, you know, the string bass, the doo doo doo doo. You know, the colored girls go, you know, this is actually kind of cute in a way, you know, if you think about it in a top 40 context. But the subject matter is like these like total freaks and people that were working, you know, living and, you know, kind of like living out fantasies on the very margins, not only of just society, but even of that culture. So, you know, the idea that he was glam rock was actually is actually kind of funny because, you know, he wasn't glam. He was oh, he's kind of mean, you know, but in a very theatrical and powerful way and at the same time writing really delicate, sweet songs, Satellite of Love. You know, Berlind, that entire record, even though that record is considered to be from his glam period with the glitter rock days, you know, in fact, it's very theatrical. It's very poetic and it's very introspective. You know, there's no big rockers on it.
Speaker OK, sorry. Are you going to Berlin? Yeah, just describe this look.
Speaker Well, I saw him in December of 72, was a club show in Philadelphia. That was the first time I saw him perform. And it was kind of a weird scene because it was actually kind of a foreclosure coffeehouse. There was no liquor in it. So it was like coffee and brownies. And this guy is coming in and he's singing heroin and he's singing waiting for the man. And he's doing, you know, basically the best of the Velvets at the time. This was before Transformer had been released. It was just on the cusp of that record coming out. And he looked really intimidating. You know, he had you know, he had the shades on. You know, he had this kind of I'm going to say it was a grimace, but, you know, he looked like, don't mess. You know, this is I'm serious. I'm getting it on. You don't like it. The door's right over there. There's the fire exit. Don't let the door hit yourself on the ass on the way out or whatever. It was that kind of vibe. And, you know, if I remember correctly, it was most of the like black leather, the jacket, black jeans, in fact, a lot of what he wears now. But I think the intensity of it and the the the hints of sexuality and even deviant sexuality in the songs actually sort of made it feel like it was part of this glitter thing. I think that, you know, people sort of thought of him as glitter rock and glam rock and bisexual rock. But a lot of it was by association. He wasn't really part of any kind of fad. You know, he was doing this when everyone else was walking around in baggy jeans doing Hari Krishna, Om Shanti, you know, he was this was nothing new to him. In fact, everyone had caught up to him. And in fact, everyone was doing it with a lot more flair and a lot more sort of hubba hubba. You know, I'm wearing these spangled things and funny hair and all that sort of whatnot, you know, dressing up in dresses. And, you know, he didn't need to do that. You know, that stuff was already in the music and it was already in the songs. And, you know, it was intimidating enough that, you know, here's this guy standing there. And to the to the side of them were like these 15 year old kids. It's like a bar band, you know? And here he is, you know, really intense. Lou Reed, that whole legacy of the Velvets and this is before even Transformer took effect. And when he went out with, you know, the sort of heavy metal, the harder metal kind of bands that are on like rock and roll animal and things like that. This was still rough stuff. And the that show is just that. That was a major imprint on my head, because as much as I had devoured the Velvets records and the extremes that are certainly on, say, you know, the bad banana record and white like white, he you know, to see that, you know, even if it's just Lou, there was no John. There was no sterol that. Just to see that in front and broadcasting those songs, I was it was rough stuff, you know, but it was supposed to be that's that's that was why it was great.
Speaker Can you talk to explain, OK, I'm not sure I'm just sort of sympathy that perfect got the idea for me that it's that building transformer to come next with this terribly difficult album, Guerlain. I mean, the obvious thing is that the artist would be let's really capitalize that and talk about you as an artist in that sense.
Speaker Well, actually, I think for Lou to make Berlin right after Transformer to everyone who thought Transformer was the beginning of like his superstar days, like he was he was made in the shade. Now, you know, for them, Berlin was a shock. This is like, how could he do this? You know, but that's to suggest that someone like Lou is strictly a careerist. Now, he obviously he's always been very attentive to his career, to the continuum of his work and the the audiences that he wants to attract. He is you know, he's never been shy about that, you know, but at the same time, to think that, you know, he was simply going to go on and make a transformer, too. I'm amazed that anybody figured that was something that was a natural. You know, you look at just the course of the music on the Velvets records. You know, another No. One of those four records sounds alike. They all have common elements. They all have things threading through them. But none of them. Sounds like the second issue of the first. You know, there's no they're not. He was never into repetition. And in fact, Transformer was kind of a weird record in between the very first one, which was kind of this grandiose kind of art pop record that he made mostly of like previously unissued velvet songs. But, you know, with like all these English session men and orchestras on Ocean and all the sort of business and, you know, he gets to transform it. It's a lot leaner. It's a lot more, poppy. In fact, you know, Berlin, you know, Transformers, the anomaly, not Berlin. You know, Transformer was a record made to be a successful record.
Speaker Lou has never really made records simply to be successful. And in fact, a couple of times that that he did. You know, you look at Saligman dance that was kind of made as a commercial record. It sucks. I'm sorry. It is not a great record. There are really great things about it, but. That it's you know, it's not a record that is highly regarded. They don't people don't speak of it in the hushed tones that they do the Blue Mask or New York or, you know, the songs for Drella Project with with John.
Speaker Can you talk about it?
Speaker Maybe you shouldn't say it sucks. Well, if he agrees, then that's cool. I don't want him to think. I don't want him to be coming up my house.
Speaker And he says, well, I was probably being a little extreme there. Say it ever again when you have the cover.
Speaker Well, you know, that door, you know, maybe we can say something other than it's all right to say and say what you want to say about, say, I can dance without saying it's it's it's kind of bloodless.
Speaker Sally Can't Dance is really kind of a bloodless record, which is really unusual in his catalog. You know, it's a record. It was it sounds like it was kind of made on automatic pilot. The songs don't sound that way. You know, this is also the record that has killed your sons. But it sounds like a record that was made to give to a record company for them to sell. And in fact, it was one of his most successful albums of that of that decade. But I'll take metal machine music over that any day, you know, and I'm sure no one at RCA would have agreed with that at the time, you know, for signs of noise.
Speaker Well, yes, I kind of like four sides of noise, much more than just kind of a resculpted pop, you know, let's get it on FM radio. It was a big hit record and I would never deny him that. But I can't say that I've listened to it much at all.
Speaker Ever go back to Berlin and that yeah, it was I have heard that it was not what we see with a major extent that John Rocker loved it and it didn't sell at all. So but now we all look back and it's like, oh, my God, it was a precursor to so many things for so many people.
Speaker Susan, uh, uh, I think.
Speaker Susan Rice said that she listened to it before she wrote look into that powerful talk about Berlin in the context of.
Speaker That they received, except for David Rockwell and Will Berlin was badly received and it certainly didn't sell in the numbers that Transformer did or in the numbers. I'm sure RCA had hoped it would probably in the numbers that Lou hoped it would. But it's actually a very characteristic record of Lou's because it's a record made to be heard in a one on one context. You know his records, you know, the Velvet's records, the songs that he writes, they were always meant to be. I'm talking to you. You know, he once described it to me as like, you know, having a conversation with somebody. You know, you're sitting here and they're, you know, you're you're in the corner of a room talking to somebody and saying, you know, this is what's going on. This is what's on my mind. This is what's in this song. This is what this experience is about. And his best records have always been made with that kind of intimacy in mind. Berlin was very low key and it's in its music and it's in its character. Now, even with all of the orchestration and all of the sort of opulence of those arrangements, it was also very direct and very personal. And, you know, big popular rock and roll records are meant to be you know, they're supposed to hit everybody. You know, it's like you hear a song, boom, everybody hears it on the radio at the same time, or it's this mass communal thing that you see at a concert. Everybody jumps up, you know, claps along. You know, Berlin is not like that. It wasn't meant to be like that. And I think that what happened and this is this is certainly true of the Velvets records as well. Berlin was a record that people heard one person at a time and in fact, probably took a lot of time to listen to it took me a while to really get a handle on Berlin, but you just sort of like sank into it and let it let it do its thing on you. And all of his best records have done that. You know, it's no different than the people who thought that magic and loss was this really depressing record about death. Well, it's it's kind of low key. It's very dark. You know, there's not a lot of, you know, hubba hubba here. We're not talking of a great electric guitar solos and, you know, all the big noise, but the kind of direct communication, the electricity that he's trying to generate from one spot where he is to another, which is where the listener is. You know, that's not that's not something you just do with volume. You do it with intensity. You do it with, you know, by articulating what you want to say. And that's what a record like Berlin was like that so many of his best records, which are also the ones that everybody thinks are so difficult, that's what they're like.
Speaker Can you continue that?
Speaker OK, I went out there and I was thinking, and it's more of a mental direction.
Speaker Well, I would I wouldn't say that Berlin is a record of, you know, that speaks to sort of an adult sensibility. I would say that it doesn't speak to a juvenile one, which isn't quite the same thing. They're not direct opposites.
Speaker You know, it was not I love you. You love me. It wasn't, you know, let's go to bed. Let's not go to bed. You know, why are you this, that and the other thing, you know, it wasn't strictly about those very basic, almost banal expressions that you get in popular music. It's it's the old thing about, you know, there's like eight million stories in the Naked City. Well, there's eight million ways to say I love you or I don't love you or what's the problem here in pop music? And this was one of them. And it was a very thoughtful, very articulate and very difficult way to do it, because it was not it was like it was not common.
Speaker It was not something easily attached to, you know, it was orchestras, it was about orchestras and about singing rather than about guitars and about hooks. There are hooks in there.
Speaker There are guitars in here. There's some amazing musicians playing on that record. In some ways, maybe he overplayed his hand.
Speaker Maybe he maybe he made a record that was too good and to mature to really appeal to a lot of people at once. But that's really that's that's why so many people keep going back to it, because it wasn't easy. Pop music is in many ways at its best about sudden impact. You hear something, you love it or you hear something, you hate it, you know, and that's and it's meant to be temporal. But at the same time, if that was all it was, then we'd kind of be cheated in artistic terms.
Speaker I'm sorry, am I doing something now?
Speaker OK, it's the the longevity and the continued. Pleasure and inspiration and, you know, revelation sometimes that you can get from a record and you don't have to have it on the first day and in fact, it's more fun to work at it. And that's why, you know, somebody like Lou, his music is continually talked about both pro and con people are still, you know, beefing about Sally can't dance. There's still people who don't like Berlin. But that polarization means that, you know, he's actually had a really significant effect. You know, people disagree. They're not just saying, I don't care. And I think that's that's the importance both of that record and so much of his work.
Speaker Can you talk about the kids in particular? Because he's been playing a lot lately and we have some good recordings.
Speaker And actually, I would I actually did a lot of those. Yeah.
Speaker The article then was Rock and Roll Animal, which meant I sort of I guess I've read that it was kind of because the record companies were still. I'm pleased with and talk about rock and roll and rock and roll animal is.
Speaker Rock and roll animal was actually a great record, and it actually was a really important 70s because one of the great kind of stoner records, you know, like, you know, kids talk about, you know, what they were doing in the 70s hanging out in the park and, you know, drinking wine, you know, smoking joints and hanging out and stuff. You know, rock and roll animal was a really great party record. Know, it was there was a lot of noise. It was actually kind of cliched in a way. It was actually more the edges were more around that it was more heavy metal than the kind of extreme atonal hard rock that the songs on it, actually the way they originally made. You know, a lot of the Velvets material that was on those two records, Lou Reed Alive and Rock and Roll Animal, you know, they were done much more extreme with a lot more attitude and intensity. But, you know, in a way, it was it was a connection that a lot of a lot of kids who didn't know the velveteen were actually coming after that, who had maybe cottoned on to transform or maybe even missed that as well. They could get into it. It was crazy. It was loud. The songs were intense. And he was you know, he was always a great, riveting stage performer in his own kind of stoic way. And I think that rock and roll animal captured that part of him. It was actually a really good band. They were really good. You know, Steve Hunter, great guitar player from Detroit, Dick Wagner, I guess, was on that record as well. You know, that's that's actually the kind of Detroit sound that the Velvets and themselves also kind of influenced. In a way, they came through with the plastic inevitable in the mid 60s, 66, I guess maybe 67. That's when Iggy was sort of cottoning on. And the whole high energy Detroit thing that also came up with the MK five, you know, they were bringing their own vibe and their own urban angst to it. But you could see that there was sort of an exchange here going on, you know, and having people like, you know, Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner in that band. He was actually bringing back in an element of what he had left in Detroit when the Velvets pulled through. So, you know, he was basically pulling in elements of things that he had already done and actually doing it in a way that was really successful, you know, as nothing wrong with having a successful record. And the songs were good and it rocked. You know, that's what the kids want to rock. Here's some rock.
Speaker Would you say that in a way that maybe because the successive walk on the wild side transformer and their.
Speaker Well, the success of Transformer brought Lou back into Moore, actually got him into the public spotlight, he hadn't really been there before Berlin for all of the problems that he had in terms of reaction and bad reviews and no sales was talked about so much as in reaction to the success of Transformer that, you know, he was still, you know, a very significant person. You still he was a very significant artist. Even people didn't like him. They talked about him. The success of rock and roll animal and the fact that what he was performing to a large degree were velvet songs meant that those songs, which for a lot of people had been unheard. They didn't know them. They didn't know they existed for the most part, suddenly or common, you know, there in the common coin. Now, they're now being talked in a current way. I'm sorry.
Speaker No, continue. I just say what the songs were. Oh, Sweet Jane, heroin, white lady de Rock and roll. Yeah.
Speaker You can say, oh, well, Sweet Jane, heroin, rock and roll. He was also performing. I think he was doing Sister Ray at a couple of points on that tour.
Speaker Turn that thing off. I'll try that again. And we're the ones on Lou Reed live to our version.
Speaker It's just around a little bit like this vicious Saveliev walk on the wild side and waiting for the man.
Speaker Oh, that's right. Said, Oh, that's right. They didn't they don't have a sister. Animal is sweet, Jane. Yeah, that's great. Yeah. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Right.
Speaker OK, well, you know the songs on rock and roll, animal heroin, white light, white heat, rock and roll, sweet Jane, Sweet Jane and Rock and Roll had already been on the radio to a large degree when Loaded came out. That's actually you know, that was one of the first serious successes. The Velvets had their last. But to hear these songs played every night and to have them suddenly become part of the listening habits of, you know, 15 year old guys and girls, you know, hanging out in parking lots and, you know, going over to the Academy of Music here in New York or, you know, that whole sort of 70s rock experience, you know, meant that these these really kind of intense and, you know, very articulate and also very dark songs are suddenly being heard in a party context. It meant that the songs were now being given a new life. And I think what happened to a large degree was that, you know, punk in the 70s happened because of a whole lot of reasons, including the Velvets. But I think the fact that the kids that were becoming disenfranchised from mainstream music and mainstream rock and roll and the big arena shows and all the the the grandeur of the the progressive rock and the art rock stuff, you know, these songs like Heroin Waiting for the Man, White Light, White Heat, they became like source material. And so go back to it. You know, they're hearing Lew do it. So, you know, you get these people then, you know, going back and looking for the original records. I remember Thurston Moore telling me about, you know, how there was a guy that he once you met that became a very close associate of his. And, you know, they met, you know, at a record store, like standing over the Velvets bins going, you know, is any new velvet stuff this week. You know, it was that kind of again. And it goes back to the incremental quality, the the incremental movement of the audience and the momentum of it, you know, picking it up one by one. In the case of rock and roll animal, whole lot of people started hearing it. The ones who took it seriously and started going back. They're the ones who started making changes.
Speaker That was perfect because we have there's some more telling us that.
Speaker So then after Rock and roll, Animal Dance 74, and I guess you've covered that.
Speaker We assassinated that record. Yeah.
Speaker Then comes the New York and the movie live from issues that you talked about.
Speaker Yeah, that's basically that was like, well, we need we need more product. Yeah. That was that was the outtakes from the either one. Yeah.
Speaker Yeah. Comes our favorite record. Yes. It's just another machine music.
Speaker Your take on that metal machine music. I'm very proud to own a copy. And I've you know, it's the thing about metal machine music is that it's both a great gag and it's also a really serious enterprise. You know, on one hand, you know, it's him standing in a room feeding back for sixty four minutes. You know, this is this is obviously not done to make anybody at the record company happy. You know, he puts it out, comes out through like, you know, RCA, you know, Morgan is almost like a classical record. You know, is this is some sort of. Harry Parch, you know, our trip, you know, Edgard Varese thing, and then you read the liner notes and, you know, cycles per minute and I'm reading, I you know, I bought the record Arrhenius. And I think, what does this mean? You know, I don't get it. You know, and people I think a lot of people thought it was, in fact, synthesisers that this was some sort of like a music concrete tape recorder, you know? Well, you know, the real Edgard Varese stuff, you know, mad scientist things, when in fact, it was just him standing in front of an amplifier, you know, with his guitar feeding back for sixty four minutes. You know, now everybody sees Sonic Youth do it. And it's like, you know, it makes sense at the time. It certainly didn't. But the one thing that I remember from the liner notes about that record, and I don't remember the exact wording, but it was like my weak beats your year.
Speaker And I thought, man, that is this guy is just saying, you know, if you don't like it, I don't care.
Speaker And in popular music, there's so much emphasis put on appeal, you know, making the big play, making the big, you know, the big superstar leap to, you know, multimillions and, you know, forever being loved. And he's just telling people like, you know, screw you and there's bizzle. That's a lot of what rock and roll is about. It's meant to be a reaction. It's meant to be a stance, and it's meant to be, you know, a challenge. And in this particular case, having been through all of these crazy, you know, changes in style and, you know, in his own in his own life and the sort of things that he went through with the Velvets, you know, the business stuff that was like just a total drag on him in which, you know, he continued to have to fight for years, you know, to make a record like metal machine music was basically, you know, this is this is something this is part of what I am. And I'm going to give it to you, whether you like it or not. And again, it's one of those records that people love because of it. It's so extreme. But, you know, there aren't enough extremes in pop music. And, you know, the idea that this has no no songs, no words, no hooks is it's it's so pure that it's kind of beyond rock and roll. It's it's a Lou Reed record. It's not even a Lou Reed guitar record. It's not it's not a Lou Reed rock'n'roll. It's just a Lou Reed record. It's just a it's a piece of his personality. He put it down on double vinyl. And, you know, I would have loved to have been in the office at RCA when they heard this thing. I really would have. I can imagine the jaws must have been just like drag. And that's I wish somebody had caught that on film. We should all see that for posterity and put it in the Hall of Fame.
Speaker Yeah. So that's good. I hear I have my notes here. That'll be music. July seventy five USA. No British release.
Speaker No, no, no, no, no, no release.
Speaker You know it was like it came and it when you know you start that over again and talk about what was going the other day actually was that I think after three weeks they pulled it from the stores because they told them that they were sending returns or something that would ruin his career forever. Guys, keep the record straight and not take the records again. Yeah, maybe talk about that.
Speaker Well, the idea that that anyone actually would release metal machine music, you know, even on a dare is really incredible. And you got to kind of give RCA a little bit of guts for even just going with it, whether they were forced to contractually or not. But, you know, the reaction in stores, it was not an easy record to find. You know, I ended up having to find like a used copy, you know, a few years later because it was just impossible to find. But the idea that, you know, people, you know, sure, record stores were sending them back. And, you know, the whole reaction to, you know, this is music. But in a way, I thought it was kind of appropriate because when I got my very first copy of the banana record, I got it from my college roommate who didn't want it. But he had gotten it as a stereo demonstration record when he bought, like a record player, you know, so here's like this store selling stereos. And what you're supposed to listen to to test the quality of the stereo is heroin. OK, great idea. Just the sort of thing it really shows you, like the quality of what you're getting in a stereophonic music reproduction machine. I'm actually probably metal machine music is a great stereo demonstration record.
Speaker You know, try testing that out with your massive seed. Nine hundred dollar system. You know, if they can withstand that, it can withstand anything.
Speaker That's unbelievable. It's true. It's so true.
Speaker Nineteen seventy five actually got three releases. Seventy five Lou Reed live and build machine music. And then I guess in December very quickly.
Speaker Yeah, which is crazy feeling Charlie's girl, she's my best friend, kicks again. Oh, baby, nobody's business in Coney Island, baby.
Speaker Can you talk about I actually asked should I'd like to listen back to kind of the thing that's interesting. You mentioned that, you know, in 19 was at 75. You know, he's got three records out. You know, there's the Loory live metal machine music in Coney Island, baby. Well, when you think of it, two of those three records, one of them was probably the record company saying, you know, what else are we going to do? We got to throw something out there. It's a marketing thing. Metal machine music was his reaction to those sort of shenanigans. And then Coney Island has him getting back, you know, recalibrating, saying the things that, you know, that he wants to say and actually sharpening and focusing his sound, because it's actually a very it's a very user friendly record. It is not extreme.
Speaker It's actually got a lot of beautiful melodies to it. You know, the tone of it is it's it's not quite pop. It's not quite rock. It's in this kind of weird, kind of almost soulful melancholy quality to it. And yet, you know, the first two records are basically it's almost like reactions of, you know, attitude. You know, I dare you to do this. Therefore, I'm going to do that once he got that out of the way. And I think a lot of it has to do with just the incredible instability of his career commercially during that period that, you know, these the swing back and forth between like, you know, weirdness versus, you know, the crass commercial gesture, like RCA putting out a stopgap live album taken from old tapes to him, you know, doing metal machine and then sort of like coming right back into this really great medium place with Coney Island baby. And in fact, Coney Island baby is really, you know, the beginning of a really strong period for him that also ends up giving a street hassle. And if you look at it over the long haul, you know, there are a couple of missteps and records that I think people disagree about a lot now. But, you know, from Coney Island, baby up through, say, Blue Mask and Legendary Hearts and New York, you know, that's that's a really strong period. You know, there are very few people who can say they put out that many quality records in that kind of a time span and put out as many as he did. You know, we're talking about almost like a record a year.
Speaker Yes. Seventy six is rock and roll. All right.
Speaker Yeah, I hear that.
Speaker But I would just like to see that, like you said, just keep it. Yeah, OK.
Speaker OK, let's just go into rock and roll artist.
Speaker Second, I really love bang my drum. Follow the leader. You wear it so well ladies. Hey, rock and roll hard shoes and the chosen one. Senseless and cruel which I know the love. It's not so appreciated.
Speaker Claim to fame vicious circle another one.
Speaker Yeah I like that temporary thing. Another one and the sheltered life but senselessly the cruel vicious circle.
Speaker A temporary thing. Anything particular that does.
Speaker I think Rock and roll heart is actually quite an underrated record. I think there it's because of the sound of it. It's almost sort of muted in a way. It's not it doesn't have the edge of a transformer or even Berlind in its own peculiar way. And it's not quite as crafted as, say, Coney Island baby is, I think, Coney Island baby. It's a very distinctive sound. So as a result, I think a number of the songs on Rock and Roll Heart have actually been kind of missed. And it's also interesting that he, in addition to having things like, you know, senselessly cruel and, you know, rock and roll heart, there is the bringing sheltered life back from like deep in the Velvets past. You know, it existed on like a scratchy demo acetate, a wonderful song. And I think that he was he was actually reconnecting in some ways with the kind of writing that he had started out doing and actually trying to sort of, you know, find the connections, you know, because a lot of his solo career in the early 70s, in addition to the changes in style and you know, what people were thinking of as changes in his image, you know, from Transformer to the rock and roll animal and et cetera. But I think that a lot of the material, you know, actually was coming from the Velvets place. You know, those first several records have a lot of Velvets unused Velvets material on it. I think by bringing back sheltered life when Rock and Roll Heart, just a really underrated song. I'm really glad that it was reissued on the Velvet's box that, you know, he was actually maybe subtlely or maybe too subtlely making a point saying, you know, this is where I come from. This is where I am. There is a connection. There's a thread here. And I think in some cases, I think at the time, people, those people who knew that, you know, sheltered life, you know, was an old velvet song. Well, you know, just going back to the well, you know, something to fill out the record, I don't think it's I think it's a little subtler than that. You know, it's a good song. Should never go to waste no matter how old it was. And I think he was he was actually kind of making a point, you know, that this is the way I've always written. These are this is the style I want to get back to. I need to center myself as a writer and an artist. And I think Coney Island baby enabled him to really get back into that. And I think Rock and Roll Heart and a lot of those records that followed Street, all the bells, et cetera, were really, you know, part of that that motion.
Speaker The next one, which was well said, the best would be the same old, same old, the next really important as the Eighth Street.
Speaker So that's when I really got to listen back to that. And that's such a deep record for that. Yeah, that's a really heavy record, things like that.
Speaker When I hear this, like there's like really weird on there, but and then then you have something is epic and intense street hustle, which, you know, to see him do it, you know, it's actually fun. I've seen I've seen, you know, you to do parts of it. You know, they'll do the sha la la la stuff. You know, it's for a record for a song that's like eleven minutes long and is, you know, graphically graphic sex in there, you know, and not all that nice either. It's it's an incredibly beautiful song. You know, it's got the Waltzing Matilda, you know, that sort of very Victorian, elegant, you know, feel to it and you know, just the way you could have la la la la la la la la la. You know, and with all this other stuff, you know, it's his whole thing for for, you know, since Jump Street has been about trying to reconcile extremes. You know, you have intensity, you have beauty. Why can't you have intense beauty? Why can't you have beautiful intensity, you know, to have, you know, talk about bad luck and straight hassle and then have something as lyrical and almost buoyant as, you know, the sha la la la, as you know, is that's the sort of stuff that just, you know, it's actually hard to sort of describe and it's hard to analyze because it's actually meant to have an impact at a place where you just don't have words. You know, that's I don't know.
Speaker It's I'm not saying it's right, but we can come back to that where we could.
Speaker Yeah, because it's because in a funny way, street hassle is actually. Yeah. And I'm just riffing here the same thing. It's in some way it isn't by no means a perfect record, but the parts of it that are great or glorious and the parts that don't quite work, you know, they're at least they're amusing. I want to be black, you know, who's he kidding?
Speaker You know, but that's the whole idea, you know, who's he kidding?
Speaker You know, the ultimate, you know, sort of white guy from Long Island, Queens, you know? But then again, he's always been an RB freak, you know, Mr Doo Wop.
Speaker So anyone, can you take this opportunity to talk about some influences like, oh, yeah, yeah, talk about that.
Speaker When you think some of this comes from.
Speaker Well, people don't think of Lou as a soul man because he's he's so stoic, you know, he's so intense. You know, he seems to, you know, not show great deals of emotion, you know, on stage. But, you know, his connection with RB music, certainly 50s vocal sounds, doo wop, streetcorner stuff. You know, his love of Dionne. He made that quite plain when at his induction speech at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the elements of R and B and soul in his writing and actually in the music, not just the lyrics, you know, he can you know, some of the stuff on legendary hearts, you know, really comes from the very fifties are in place. But, you know, that lick that kind of strange little guitar hook and I guess it's there she goes again on the first Velvet's record. You know, that's that's How To Hitchhike by Marvin Gaye. Dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun. You know, that's a Motown thing. You know, freely admits it. There was actually one track unloaded. I guess it was. It was I found a reason where, you know, Sterling was telling me about how this came from, like some really obscure or indie record. I had to look it up. You know, I'd never even heard of it before. And sure enough, there it was, you know, like it was nineteen fifty eight or something. You know, it's a really great old, you know, record, actually. I got a I have to check back on that because in the liner notes to the Velvets, to the loaded thing, he actually talks about that particular record. Where was I. Oh just. Oh yeah.
Speaker Well he's well, you know, Lou's first record was with the shades. You know, they were streetcorner, they were in and B banned from from Long Island. You know, it was we're talking late 50s. You know, that's that was his first record. That was his first love.
Speaker You know, he's he's talked a lot about, you know, the impact of listening to the radio and listening to rockabilly and the, you know, the stuff that he was hearing on the New York radio.
Speaker Sterling, you know as well that was actually a connection that he and Sterling made at Syracuse was through records, you know, through their shared interest in old rockabilly, old chest blues. You know, John Lee Hooker. You know, actually, I remember still running down some of the names, you know, records that they would play, you know, and. Lou also was a big jazz freak, you know, he talked about going to see Ornette, you know, he had a radio show on the Syracuse University Station named after a Cecil Taylor track on an old school excursions on a wobbly rail. It's an old Cecil Taylor record. So, you know, all of that atonality that, you know, sounds like just random feedback, you know, that was coming from a place, too. It was from his, you know, hearing Ornette free jazz or listening to Cecil and, you know, Coltrane and things like that. You know, he was as a for someone who actually wrote records to be heard, kind of like by shut ins, you know, people who were just needed some kind of connection with the outside world. And he's sort of talking in his way. He was very worldly in his musical interests and the things that influenced him.
Speaker And yet it's rare that you get a fine if you play the blues.
Speaker That's from my interview. Yeah. So, yeah, maybe try that in a second.
Speaker Well, the whole notion, though, the story about Sterling, I think well, actually, Lou told me this, that, you know, when they were in the Velvets, you know, you got fined if you were going to play a blues lick. That's not because they didn't like blues. They didn't like cliches. Big difference. You know, this was they were actually taking a lot of inspiration from blues, really deep, intense stuff. You know, guys who didn't water down their emotions like Sonny Boy Williamson and Howlin Wolf, you know, real, you know, tough characters. But the idea that they would simply play a blues lick, you know, blues licks were common coin. You know, there were bands all over New York, all over Long Island, all over the country, you know, recreating Chuck Berry or recreating, you know, Willie Dixon songs or Muddy Waters. What they wanted to do was take it to another level. I remember Alan Vega of suicide, you know, telling me that what they did, you know, just him and Martin read with their keep their keyboard. And him singing was supposed to be urban blues. That's kind of what the Velvets were. And so much of what suicide did came from the Velvets as well. You know, Alan knew them, you know, knew their music really well. So, you know, it's almost like a tradition of urban blues, but it's a tradition that is very it's sort of a very particular place and almost like a particular mentality.
Speaker I sort of wandered off. And can you give me the context of the 78 street hassel, what was popular in the real world that places you never know?
Speaker I mean, even we could even go back to The View a bit like, you know, would be nice if you could just tell me, like, early and what was what was Gwendoline was playing and wasn't popular.
Speaker What was popular in 70, 73, 73, 74? Well, what was popular, what was popular when Berlin came out? Carole King, you know James Taylor. Yes. Emerson Lake and Palmer. You know, there's a lot of good music. Martha Huber was happening and Bobby was certainly big then. But, you know, you could there was the audience was, you know, the mainstream was a really safe place. And even though there was a lot of good music and a lot of, you know, interesting and provocative things being done, you know, Berlin came out in an atmosphere of, I don't know, it was just pop. You know, it was like it wasn't that the music's the music that was there out at the point didn't have substance, but so much of it was kind of fluff. It was meant to be fluff. It was like it was a reaction to all this political, social, you know, broiling action of the late 60s and the turn of the 70s.
Speaker You know, the way the whole Vietnam civil rights thing ratcheted up Black Panthers. This, you know, Watergate. Nixon was a crook.
Speaker You know, everybody's you know, it's like all of that utopian promise had really hit a brick wall. So a lot of the music that followed was meant to be very not mindless, but less, I don't know, less serious and maybe less and almost more more personal. You know, like they were songs about love, songs about going to the country and the Eagles and and also getting back to this kind of like get back to the land thing. You know, we tried to change society that didn't work so well.
Speaker So what we're going to we're going to go out to the country. I'm going to ride horses and be, you know, sort of like hippy desperadoes and stuff. And, you know, Berlin comes out and, you know, basically, you know, hippie desperadoes, they're, you know, a lot of people on some heavy trips, you know, it was not the Eagles, it was not Jackson Browne. And it's that's not meant as a problem. That's that's not meant as an insult to them because. They made really good records that were of their time, Lou is making records of his time and the two were just not coinciding, did the same thing for me.
Speaker What was in the air on the airwaves particularly popular?
Speaker Well, in 1978 when we had to yeah.
Speaker In 1978, when Street Hassel came out, there was a question of what was popular. Then there was also what was interesting. And Street Hassel actually came out at a point when things were changing to a degree, not in a commercial sense.
Speaker You know, punk rock was not going to be big in this country for another 15 years. But nineteen seventy eight was was a year when a lot of the things that had started out in New York at CBG because with television and Patti Smith, you know, people who were very admittedly influenced by the Velvets and Bilu, you know, we're starting to have a national impact, certainly, you know, beyond the Bowery, you know, beyond Corgies. And at the same time, 1978, you're talking to the year foreigner. You know, sticks are really huge. You know, it's that it's arena rock. And, hey, I like arena rock. You know, I like a lot of noise. I like that kind of, you know, I just, you know, good fun vibe. But, you know, one does not live on Arena Rock alone. And I think that, you know, there was also the result being there was a very disenfranchised audience that didn't they didn't want to hear from Styx. They didn't want to hear from that sort of thing. They did. The other thing they didn't want to hear from was, you know, this 60s, you know, this aging 60s contingent of people who were still, you know, doing it, not that they shouldn't, but, you know, people like Crosby, Stills and Nash, the Stones, you know, the various solo Beatles, they were having their ups and downs in terms of their creativity and in terms of, you know, the records they were making, you know, how much they meant as opposed to how much they sold. And I think there were a lot of people who felt that, you know, a lot of young people who felt that, you know, there's got to be something harder. There's got to be something more intense. It has to be, you know, rock and roll must mean something more than going to an arena with 20000 of your closest friends and, you know, hanging out with Bachman Turner Overdrive. And so those are the people that were it was Perabo in Cleveland, the Dead Boys television, you know, all the stuff that was going on in New York. You know, the hardcore scene that was starting to develop in L.A., you know, X bills, you know, the whole search and destroy vibe that was going on out there and regionally as well in Texas, Minneapolis, you know, there was there was these pockets of like discontented people. And Street House was basically a record of being discontented. You know, it's a record about, you know, not having any kind of equilibrium. And it's a record about, you know, dealing with some, you know, heavy business, you know, on, you know, hot, empty sidewalks. And in that sense, it was completely out of character with everything that was popular, but it was completely in sync with everything that was happening down below in the underground.
Speaker Yeah. Then the next thing moving right along you live, take no prisoners so fast.
Speaker It's the name of it.
Speaker Well, take no prisoners. It's actually one of my favorite Lou Reed records because it is just so it's like it's metal machine music with words, you know, it's just like him go into town and, you know, full of whatever kinda. You know, emotion or wit or bile or, you know, it's just all there and it's like metal machine music, it's four sides of feedback except it's him talking it instead of the guitars playing it and the stuff on there. I think I think I can't remember it was him or someone once. It was just one of the greatest comedy records ever made.
Speaker You know, it's just stand up, improvised stand up, you know, all the stuff that, you know, he was saying about the rock critics and, you know, wailing on about particular songs and, you know, having a go at somebody.
Speaker And, you know, it's just it's great. It's a wonderful record. It's not one that you sort of play for somebody and say, well, this is what Lou Reed's about, because it's a particular part of his character, you know, probably amplified at a particular point in his career.
Speaker But, you know, it's again, it's that my weak beats year year vibe, you know, it's like not only can I do stand up and rap with the audience, but I can give it to you, you know. With, you know, shotgun shells, which is exactly what he did, it's a great record. I love it.
Speaker It's great because I never thought that in the context of verbal metaphors, beautifully said. The bell swallows in 1979, which has a stupid man, disco mystic, which I love.
Speaker I want to be with you looking for the lights all through the night.
Speaker Those are the both bells and public art and growing up records I really need to go back to because I think I really like the bells at the time. Never really liked growing up. And I just the sound of it didn't do it for me. And I think I lost the songs as a result. But I'd like to live I like to listen back to those because there is that's also a very kind of forgotten period.
Speaker And he's never really said we'll come back to the bells and growing up.
Speaker Yeah, I mean, growing up, growing up in public is kind of as Lou Reed, who grew up in public and then there's little know maybe you could talk about in that context.
Speaker You want to say that?
Speaker Let me say that because, you know, because I'd like to really listen to those songs again to reach out to and is the Blue Mask.
Speaker You wanted to say with that, no, well, the blue mask is the blue mask is a very interesting record because it is a reconnection with the basic sound of the Velvets. He really rediscovered or reconnected with that two guitars, bass and drums.
Speaker And in Robert Quine, he found someone who was not only a really provocative and I think extraordinary guitar player, but someone who had listened to the Velvets a lot. You know, Robert had seen the band in San Francisco. He'd been at The Matrix, you know, when some of those tracks on, you know, that live double album that came out in nineteen seventy five, I think it was on Mercury. It was it was in the mid 70s. He was actually there, you know, at those dates and, you know, saw the Velvets loads of times. So he had really, you know, taken in and really digested in his own way a lot of the ideas musically, you know, guitar wise that the Velvets were were dealing with, you know, trying to get across, you know, blue and still together and to a degree early on, Khail with the violin, the way that was almost like a third guitar with like a lot more attitude and a lot more, you know, screech. But, you know, in the blue mask, you know, he really felt the focus of the sound enabled the strength of the writing to come through. And, you know, you have something, you know, almost as kind of lyrical as the day John Kennedy died.
Speaker And then you get to, you know, the title song and the whole thing about the horse and, you know. That's that's deep that's heavy imagery, and the thing is that the sound, because it's so basic and so spare and so direct and so live, it amplifies all of the, you know, all of the dark, bloody imagery of that song in a way that I remember asking him once about the song. And it was hard for him to even talk about it, not because it was a bad there was bad memories or experiences. It's just how do you talk about a song that explicit? When it's performed in such a bear and direct way, you know, it's like everything that's there is what needed to be said, you know, you don't analyze something like that.
Speaker You know, it's a moment. And I think the blue mask is really considered, you know, by and certainly considered by a lot of both critics and fans to be a major turning point in that it's for all of the strength and the power and the the creative extremes that he went to in the 70s. Blue Mask was really a consolidation of all those things into the format that that he's always admitted. He works in best basic band, two guitars, bass, drums, worked with the Velvets.
Speaker You know, it's worked ever since on that album with Waves of Fear, which I think is an extraordinary, extraordinary song. And can you talk about that? Because it's about playing it for people who are suffering and depression and stuff in his personal life. That's true. And I'm not really sure.
Speaker Again, I'm not really sure what you can add to it.
Speaker You know, it's a very sort of people we're talking about, you know, waves of fear, which is on Blue Mask. Again, that's another song that's very hard to take apart, to analyze and to dissect because it is so very up front. You know, the percentage of autobiography in there, I'm going to guess is fairly strong. I couldn't venture what the percentages, but the delivery and particularly the way his voice, the way his voice is sort of ratchet it up. You know, in those choruses, you know, there's there's some the waves are pretty. There's tidal waves of fear going on in there. And again, the directness that the very spare blunt, you know, I think is another word. You can just describe it sound again, getting back to that Velvet's thing, you know, and I think he's found he initially found that to be a very essential frame. You know, that kind of sound. Not too much going on, not too much clutter. You know, the rock and roll animal band, bit more heavy metal, a lot more show off guitar stuff. You know, Sterling Morrison, Lou Reed, they we