The American Songwriter Interview: Lou Reed

Photo by Timothy Greenfield

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

 lou reed

Wow… that’s really heavy
That’s really, really heavy. Good God.

How do you feel about that?
Good God….Who knew? He died at age 50. This is Google. It’s not responding. You got me this far. Bertolt Brecht. We’ve got it. Gooood-byyyyye. Isn’t it great? To be able to just research something like that?

It boggles the mind.

Have you seen Shazam? It’s for the iPhone. If you hear a song you like, you turn it on-and it will go find it. Straight from iTunes for your 99 cents.

They’re just leading us around. I’ve got the iPhone. I had the other phones. But with a screen like that, and what this thing can do…It’s not a successful phone, but that’s AT&T.

AT&T is bad everywhere-except Europe. They’re great in Europe because they’re part of some other thing.

T-Mobile went completely down and out. So many customers, their chips were fried.

The chips were fried…
That’s a good line — for something. You could use it in the interview: the chips were fried/ baked in the oven in 1972/ only to have the cake pop out at St Ann’s Warehouse/ St Ann’s Warehouse popovers.

When you…
Holly what?

Holly Ann…
Wow, there’s an Irish name: Holly Ann Gleason. You go to Gleason’s Gym…?

Gleason’s Gym. The most famous gym in the world…OK, what do you want to know?

When you made Berlin… you’d made Transformer
Yes, the worst thing anyone has ever thought of doing.

Then why did you do it? Such a hard left. It was brave…
Not really. That’s the last thing I’d say. Really, that’s what got written, so that was that. That’s what got written down. That was what was there. I’m happy to get any idea about anything. It’s so hard.

I think you have excruciating standards. You don’t just write lines… You…
When there’s something to work with, I do. When I really work on it, level it, that’s what I’m gonna do. [But] that’s why the albums are so different, because that’s what I got written-and I was happy to get that.
No one wanted an album called Magic & Loss. The head of the record company called, and said, “Lou… Do you know what that’s about?”

The thing is: I had two friends I lost. There was nothing contemporary to listen to to help deal with that, or about that. I’m not the only person who’s had that happen. Everybody’s had that happen… So I wrote about that.

Why? Because that’s what got written.

Why? Because that’s all I could think about at the time; that’s what went on.

I can’t change it. I don’t try to change it. I’m lucky I can write a sentence.


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