Speaker What I'm trying to think when I actually, though, you know, I need the music, of course, in the 70s, because we all did.

Speaker And there were events where I was there, of course.

Speaker But I think we actually began in a conversational mode where we actually talked to each other and acknowledged each other. And he knew who I was and I knew who he was. And that would have been a little bit later in the 80s. I remember traveling in Italy and being in the same hotel that he wasn't. I was playing the next day or he was the day before or if he was pacing through or something like that. And he sometime in the late 70s. Oh, maybe it was a little piece called Dance. Let's listen to Charles. We did it avam 79. And I think Lou was I thought or or another van around that time. I talked to him afterwards and he said to me, I said, you know, there's a lot of rock and roll and respect, which, of course, we we take that as a compliment. Oh, you know, people in my end of the business, because the rock n roll musicians were the ones that had the the audiences.

Speaker And the more it seemed to be anyway, though, in fact. In point of fact, life on the road, I think is similar for him as it is for me. I don't think it's that different.

Speaker But there's a certain that in terms of recognition, popular recognition, certainly there's a big difference.

Speaker Talk to me about the early music and you see position where it was coming.

Speaker I think when we talk about the early music, and I guess we must mean the period of the Velvet Underground.

Speaker That's when I first became aware of his music. I think the thing that's important to remember is that we were really living in the same cultural environment. This is a downtown New York scene. Lou was very much associated with was the Warhol scene. He wasn't Pop, was it? I was connected with the art world through Richard, Sarah and son. I love all people that were more associated with people like Saligari or the son of Jared. But what we owe this was very much a world that was very complete in a way. It was a world of dancers and musicians, of writers or filmmakers. The Velvets were where they were. They were popular music, so to speak, but far different from the popular music of its time. This was this was a music that was much more consciously experimental than most popular music could be.

Speaker And because, in fact, they were it was because they would come in the same way that I came out of the art world.

Speaker That's the world that they came out of. This was a world that wasn't so concerned with.

Speaker And it's funny because when we think of Warhol, we think of of of popular culture in a way.

Speaker But in fact, Warhol is where most of his life, developing a position in terms of the art of the culture, not the father culture is really that's what interests us about him. Not that he was popular, but that he was an artist, that he was a popularizes was it was something whether people whether it was his own design or through accident or whatever. And he brought along with someone music. And that was the music that he brought with him. And of course, it was a it was a powerful influence because this is at a time that that people weren't listening to modern music. That's what my generation was involved with. The generation before us.

Speaker I've been doing a music that was very academic, was very it was hard to listen to with a cared upon so that the artists that I know of my friends, they either listened to rock n roll or they listened to different kinds of fighting music. And and everyone listened to Lou because he he he was this crossover person who came to the world of folk music into the world of art. And he and he and he was able to establish values in terms of artistic achievement that we were that we could recognize that we were comfortable with.

Speaker And we say, well, this is that this was real. It wasn't about doing how 40. It wasn't loving the Beatles. It was about. It was about making art in a very conscious way. Now, there's there's another thing about that, too, which is that this was that this is the original bands of elsewhere where we're doing very experimental work.

Speaker They were connected in some crazy way with Martin Young and with the these kind of downtown people that I have to say most economic musicians will not not have even heard of him. But in that way, people like Terry Riley and they were people that were known in the art world and they they became very known in the ranks from music eventually through through the generation that they were formed that I'm part of. So that.

Speaker Upstairs, the challenges that he was way ahead of its time.

Speaker Yeah, I know the answer to my question. Action.

Speaker OK, quiet.

Speaker You know, the reason this resecure indoors, so it was interesting in the 70s and 80s and the 90s, whether it was the Berlin Record or the songs or drink or whatever, the reason it is that an indoors is because it's authentic. And when I say it's authentic, it means that it's music comes from the inside. That is not, is it? That's made as a reaction to a marketplace. It's the music that really comes from the inside. And by that I mean it comes from Lou's own consciousness and sense of who he is and the essence of who he is as an artist.

Speaker His conscience is his own history of the environment. That is part of. And what's what you sense, though, is an absolute authentic connection to that and one with other probably music.

Speaker It may come as it comes and it goes because it may not it it doesn't it's not rooted in something that that's that that's serious.

Speaker I think that comes from a loose connection to the art community that he was part of, because those were the values that we live by.

Speaker Those are the values that were thought that were either spoken or unspoken. But we're always there. And when the music came out of that, it therefore had more of an authentic voice than something that is created on 50 Second Street for a popular music market. Now, the fact that that's kind of astonishing. I'm going to say little one on 14th Street. What was at the Palladium room or was it that place up for 50 seconds? What? That crazy place? Oh, I don't know. We played a lot of things.

Speaker Oh, we think one thing, you know, we did forms. I think that the video guy did the Korean. You know what I'm talking about. No, I'm not a one point margin like that.

Speaker I got a cake hook up with flexors, Seoul and Tokyo, New York and all this stuff. And my kids came with me. I did a little bit and Lou was there and other people there cause my kids, they wanted to sing me there and sing Lou.

Speaker Now, the thing is that I was really astonished by this in a way that they were at the time, maybe 14 or 15 pertain to who Lou Reed was, you know.

Speaker And I think that that's it crosses generations that way because I think you're really talking about. It's what it's what we mean by integrity. Integrity isn't just honesty. Integrity means complete integrity. It comes word interval and a wholeness, a complete sense. It's not something from the outside this patch together. It means something that's whole. And some of that. And I think that I was lucky that way. I mean, I think I was I'm a part of that environment, too. And I owe a lot to that. And when I think about Lou and what he was, he took what he grew up with. And I think that's what I grew up with up in New York in that environment at the same time. And where we were both formed by it. I think that our friendship is based on this kind of unspoken. We've never talked about it, but it's it's there as part of our background.

Speaker About that. Yeah.

Speaker Well, you know, the young girl, and it's funny, it's such a dark record, so dark and and the the the heroes on luciferase little records, I should say, that I did with music of David Bowie.

Speaker And Brian Eno is also from Berlin. It's also very dark.

Speaker And the funny thing is, is of course, it wasn't Brian and David weren't violent where they did the Berlin records. And Lou, who calls record Berlin, was not in Berlin. They don't call their records, though. Actually, there's a song called New Kalinin Heroes, which is one of the neighborhoods of Berlin. But you'd have to know that. Know you'd have to. That's a detail that most people wouldn't know.

Speaker It's cure's I was wondering what that means. I hope these guys and maybe they've talked about it together, but that that a man of a similar age, a similar generation, and they both picked up on the quality of Berlin, which is which is Corneau, you know, and it's after five years exactly what we people one was forgotten that there was an East Berlin and a Westerlund like you had to go through Checkpoint Charlie is very intimidating people with the dogs and the machine guns.

Speaker And when you went into Berlin, those are going into a very it was a very different world. It was very grim. It was very dark. It was.

Speaker And then you go into a restaurant, they turn on the lights when you walk in to say, you know, I kind of like, you know, I think it was Berlin. I was there in the 70s and 80s. I wish I would go because Berlin Ensemble was there.

Speaker Puerto Brocks original company was still performing there and I wanted to go see them. So I went in and out. I would cross there.

Speaker And then it was not many years after that that David Vine there and the nominees after that thought that the Berlin record came up.

Speaker When when when news of Berlin record came on, I grabbed it because I knew this was something I was going to like it.

Speaker He managed to capture something was really is quite, quite amazing lyrics, his poetry. Where do you think that comes from? What what is the way you write? So.

Speaker You know, the the the thing about the poetry is apparently to do it, you have to connect it with the way he he performs. He performs it almost as if he's speaking. It reminds me very much of the way Alan did. You know Alan. And he knew each other, of course. And we all loved Alan, I'm sure. I don't know if they ever did anything together, but I'm always applaud who try to sing. And Lou is really a singer who was kind of a poet. And when he sings, you know, you almost don't even. Well, what are the notes?

Speaker It doesn't really matter because it's he sings the way he sings as if to support. And it's interesting. Not this year.

Speaker I happened to go to the Knitting Factory, had a sader. Do you remember? It was a great they had a great two nights later and Lou was there. We were both on the program. They had different artists perform part of the Sader.

Speaker And he got up and wrote a poem. And it was the first time I'd heard him read a poem with soft music. It was very beautiful. In fact, I was really impressed with it. And I said in a funny way, he had a he had hidden the poetry by some really good music. We've been hidden from me.

Speaker I didn't realize what a really good party was until I heard it just as a poem. But I think it's because I count when he sings, he really sings like a poet. I think that's the special quality of the poetry and of him as a performer.

Speaker Can we stop for a second there? Yeah. OK.

Speaker We know Allen Ginsberg. He was he was one of our great poets and great hours of her time. He the author of How the oh we connected with the peace movement, the gay rights movement, the environmental movement. Allen was part of her. Here's part of our culture for 30, 40 years, 50 years. He was a poet who who tried to sing and Lou was a singer who was really a poet. They kind of went to a different direction and they ended up kind of in the same place.

Speaker When I hear Lou singing, I think of a second one as a part.

Speaker But really the most remarkable thing was when I heard him actually read the poetry without the music, which I did recently. I think I think Knitting Factory Sator this year. I was on the program, too. I think I often read a poem without any music. And I was I was really immensely impressed with that thought. Then when you took it out of the context of music that he was into high the poetry in a certain way and the music kind of disguise it maybe. But when you hear it, just as with that theme music, it's as powerful just as words.

Speaker Well, we say songs because I was drinking, you know why?

Speaker Because I have a friend in Brazil, in Africa, and I can't wait.

Speaker We just says we need to go. I don't know.

Speaker Hawley's she. You know, man. Yeah. Yeah, I would love for you to talk about that.

Speaker Well, let's just say you say to me, sucks a couple times songs from girl, songs for songs for all the work, songs from draw, songs from July, which I heard are new. And John performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Speaker That's why. Keep rolling. Well, what machine is going to the machine is it would be wonderful to talk about. I'm not getting an image in my mind.

Speaker It's the two. Does the double album, which is nothing but dissident's.

Speaker Well, you know.

Speaker Or any other particular that you think of?

Speaker I don't want to. I was thinking I was thinking about some control over the ones I've heard I've heard most recently when I was even two years ago. Wasn't. Was it two years ago? I think that. Well, let me talk about what I'd like to hear, because I didn't get to hear the Bob Wilson piece. I talk with up. I talk a little about Bob. And he was right because I work with my wasn't a lot. And Lou, I wanted to know what that was like. And I talked a little bit about tonight. I said, well, you know, Bob doesn't talk very much, but he draws. And that was fine from the owner. I thought they would get along very well. I thought it was a very good to be a very good collaboration. And that I heard later that Larry interest and Tommy thought that that Lou was turning out these songs at a rate that he amazed even Bob and Bob was used to me and I could really turn it off. But I think Lou actually beat me on that. But I didn't get to hear that part. I owe Bob mentioned it to me. He said he was going to talk to Louis. And I thought that was a very good idea. I think they had a good time together.

Speaker I've seen it. It is extraordinary. This is that is that got some of his version of music in it.

Speaker It doesn't have much, really. It's not just these songs.

Speaker It's mostly sort of a general question.

Speaker Lovely. Any kind of actions or yeah, if there's any more specific things. Your first impression when meeting, Lou.

Speaker Anyway, thank you. Well, you know, I met Lou and he certainly if I'd already known him because I'd been listening music for a long time when we were in the same room. We were living in the same world. We were maybe across the room from each other dozens of times before we actually began speaking together. So it wasn't like I I came in from Independence, Missouri, and met this New Year. I mean, it's already here. I didn't have to go meet him. He was already here.

Speaker And at one point, I think it was inevitable that from any show friends in the English environment that we were going to meet. So it wasn't. It wasn't. I don't have a sense that we even knew that we had a first meeting. It was at a certain point we were talking about things before that we were just saying hi. And before that we were just seeing each other.

Speaker You know how that can happen. So that before you know it, you know somebody. You don't know how you know. But we we share a lot of history in a funny way.

Speaker And that's something that I think is something that we're both aware of. I think that makes it comfortable for us to get to know each other.

Speaker Talk about maybe some important influences that you feel, or as Europe, your own work that you think are probably part of blues musicians or things like that.

Speaker You know, the thing that was interesting about for us, I say us, I mean, the community, people wanting more say experimental music, that there was this there was there was this downtown band that was also doing experimental music. And what was interesting for us was that they had no problem with our audience and we were just discovering an audience. We had to redefine our relationship to an audience because a modern music as we know it, not a music before a virgin reason, didn't care much about the audience.

Speaker So we were looking for clues in a certain way about where what is how is that working out now? I became a performer and I began performing music. And certainly a model for that. It were the people my age and a little bit younger than me maybe, who were doing that, but were working in the more on the more pop side, whether it was Zappa or Lou or David and Brian who were a bit younger.

Speaker But these are people who what they understood was a relationship with the audience.

Speaker And that's what we were interested in. And that's what we were looking at. We also played it in the same places I played at Max's Kansas City.

Speaker I played at the ocean.

Speaker I played a lot of the downtown clubs. So I knew the same people in the early days. I didn't have access to concert halls. So I played in galleries. I played in loss. I played in clubs. So we ended up playing in the same place. So in a funny way, the environment was also very summer.

Speaker But I think we're pretty much done unless there's something you what you can think of your life and that kind of thing.

Speaker Can you talk about the birthday? Because if I end up using so early. Did you feel that idea? I read it. Yeah. Mm hmm. And I notice that you just left. Yeah, I realized.

Speaker Oh, well, we had a funny birthday party for me at the.

Speaker Was actually a very implausible that was sponsored. It was a birthday party to benefit the kitchen. It was a benefit concert. And I figured as long as I had to have one of us will do something useful with it. So otherwise you end up being grumpy at your own birthday party. No one likes that.

Speaker So we simply saw how much money we can raise for the kitchen. And then.

Speaker And Lou Reed came up and and they decided they were going leave the audience and sing Happy Birthday. And you knew where to start the song. What's so funny? But look, I know how that can be. As someone said to me, sit down and play it, but I'm not sure I would have been able to do it. So you get in these funny, odd situations very suddenly. Happy birthday. Everybody knows it. Hey, how does it go? And of course, I mean plus I mean, it was only a couple hundred people there. It really wasn't a big deal in a certain way. But it was hilariously funny watching these two. There were two good friends of mine watching them, trying to figure out where this happy who's going to start it. How does it begin? Who's who has the two? I think it really broke everybody up.

Speaker That's right. We're getting a screen test with you.

Speaker I mean, for your next movie. Yeah.

Speaker Which you want you to look like the Warhol ones. Straight into the camera for 60 seconds. Go to your room.

Speaker Yes, that's nice. Like that, actually.

Speaker OK. What we can do that after we've been listed as first, actually, we got this one last question that, Nancy.

Speaker Well, it's, as Karen calls it, a legacy question. Where do you see Lou going? I'm in here.

Speaker He's gone from sort of. Delmore, through the velvet's, through the transformer, up to the albums, you know, jumping way ahead to New York and then magic and loss.

Speaker Up to now, Bob Wilson, what happened?

Speaker Well, you know, this is an interesting question about this. These people who were they've written their heads.

Speaker You know, I've got a lot of people like this, whether it's Paul Simon or, you know, or Paul McCartney or.

Speaker Just saying, think of these.

Speaker They reach a generation where they want to do something different or that sort of thing. But they don't want to do what they did before.

Speaker And the question is.

Speaker Many of them don't have the kind of conservatory training that I had, which makes it easy to do. I mean, you see, if you don't have that, then then what do you bring? What's what kind of baggage do you bring with you? You know, and that's the real question. And I think my personal feeling with Lou is probably because he has this other talent which is running.

Speaker I feel that this probably all develop in that direction.

Speaker Thought it was it'll be in theater or in or in or in poetry.

Speaker But I think that that's a natural area, from what I'm just guessing.

Speaker I don't know what I'm doing with I wanted to whether it could be theatrical conceptions of which involved writing. But are I think a person like that may say, what does he bring with them? What is the baggage? What the package is him. You know, that's what he's doing. You don't have any other baggage. But maybe finally, that's all you really need. You know, if it's real and if it's there, that'll be enough.

Speaker And let me continue it just to rephrase it in another context, which is that we're now with rock at the rock and roll sort of blues musicians at the age of 50 50 rock and roll at this point. So you are able to reinvent themselves while doing new things and hitting, hitting hard, you get something new. Whereas if you take stones, go on tour and sing the same song, talk about in the context of separatists and artists from these other people.

Speaker Well, I think and Lou's case, he has had the experience of working with artists of nine people were it was, wasn't it, from Andy Warhol to Bob Wilson and his associates with Laurie and and his and hearing things of mine or whatever is going to hear his living here in New York and being very open to this.

Speaker And I think that he has. He must have some kind of vision of that that can include all that.

Speaker So that that that means you have a bigger starting place that the place you're starting from isn't such a it isn't just a small diving board.

Speaker It's a much bigger one. And you can dive off in different directions.

Speaker I think that's going to probably in the NBA be very valuable for him. I think we all know that. I think we feel that at a certain point. And you really appreciate what what you had when you were younger are the people you knew that that the things that you learn from them. Well, that was John Cage or Richard, sir, my case in Europe or John or Jasper Johns and these kinds of things.

Speaker Those are the people that helped form who you are.

Speaker And then when we're older with. Xolo say yes.

Speaker Yes, sir. So maybe talking about the effect of your. Yeah, that is really talking.

Speaker Are you going everything. So that is growing up in that that environment.

Speaker In that community, which is. It's not just that. It's the fault for this very diverse. There is a tremendous amount of talent that that exists among the people, whether it's John Katar or or Merce Cunningham or Andy Warhol or or Lou Reed or Richard Sara or Chuck Close.

Speaker I mean, it just goes on. These are the people that you that you kind of grew up with.

Speaker And so it means that, you know, it a with a bigger was a grateful on the world of art and a wall of music, which is a bit bigger. It's a bit larger.

Speaker It's not so much about making it in Entertainment Weekly or getting into the charts or getting an Academy Award. It has to do with with values, which was really run a little bit deeper than that. And then I think that what you do is that you you're making you work for those people.

Speaker I think you do that all your life. Those are the people that you're that's your real audience, the audience or the people that you grew up with. And that's a very important audience. That's the one. The standards are very high. The expectations are high. And I think it keeps you on the mark.

Speaker I couldn't ask for more. That's OK.

Speaker Then can we stop? Yes. Don't do this thing where you just look.

Speaker One minute into whatever whatever you want. I'll I'll do something I can do for a minute and just sort of hold them. That's great.

Speaker I just thought I was saying with Francesca and he said he said I was the worst singer except for one other person. I said but I said, but Francesco, I'm sitting completely still. He said, Yeah, but your mind is racing. And I'm sitting perfectly still fill you up at your mind. You're not complaining. All right.

Speaker You're ready. So.

Philip Glass
Interview Date:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
" Philip Glass, Lou Reed: Rock And Roll Heart." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 13 Jun. 1997,
(1997, June 13). Philip Glass, Lou Reed: Rock And Roll Heart. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET).
" Philip Glass, Lou Reed: Rock And Roll Heart." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). June 13, 1997. Accessed January 23, 2022


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