Vivid Sydney Festival 2010 – Lou Reed

Vivid Sydney Festival 2010 – Lou Reed

Legend has it that Lou, in his one and only guitar lesson, insisted on being taught the chords to a Carl Perkins song. Mastering those simple three chords was all it took. You might say Lou’s been consistently perfecting and redefining the three-chord rock n’ roll song for almost three decades now

Lou Reed (born 2 March 1942) is an influential American rock singer-songwriter and guitarist. He first came to prominence as the guitarist and principal singer-songwriter of The Velvet Underground (1965-1973).




David Bowie, Iggy Pop + Lou Reed


Lou Reed performing “Walk on the Wild Side” in Sydney in 1974, plus an interview in which he talks to Australian journalists about drugs.




Michael Sandlin / 1999 —

Long before the first ear-shredding strains of the Velvet Underground shook the walls of a suburban New Jersey high school gym in 1965, Lou Reed was forging a career as a rock n roll singer/songwriter. At the tender age of 14, he sang and played guitar on a 45″ single recorded with the Jades in 1958, “Leave Her For Me.” It was a simple tune that owed much to the doo-wop and teen rock stylings found on the radio at the time. Manhattan Dj Murray the K gave the single it’s first airplay, and it was eventually picked up by a prominent major label, Dot recordings.

After fronting many a rough-n-tumble Long Island and Syracuse bar band, Reed obtained his English degree from Syracuse University in 1964. Soon afterwards, Reed joined a team of pop songwriters at Pickwick records. This Long Island City record label churned out highly commercial, often camp pastiches of whatever pop style was currently the rage: surf, doo-wop, songs about motorcycles, automobiles, etc. Pickwick was loosely modeled on the mainstream Brill Building-pop ruling the airwaves at the time. During his brief stint at Pickwick, Reed was to have his first collaboration with future VU songwriting partner John Cale. Pickwick recruited Cale, along with select others, to form a touring band. “Why Don’t You Smile Now” co-written by Cale and Reed, and recorded under the name The All-Night Workers, first appeared as a single in early 1965.

“Cycle Annie,” was a song co-written by Reed and found on the Pickwick compilations, Soundsville and Out Of Sight!. Recorded under the moniker The Beachnuts, “Cycle Annie” is an uptempo Chuck Berry-influenced rocker, and not unlike much of Lou’s recorded Pickwick output. In this characteristically simple three-chord romp, Reed handles vocals and cranks out the guitar parts (the song sounds vaguely like an early blueprint of the VU’s “Foggy Notion,” in fact). The song even comes complete with the din of crowd noise mingling with Reed’s guitar and vocals – the producers obviously going for the live feel of some rowdy teenage shindig.

For Reed, the Pickwick gig would prove to be short-lived. Lou, however, honed his craft as a songwriter and became extremely efficient in the recording studio. From the ashes of this Pickwick experience sprung relationships with John Cale, Tony Conrad and drummer Angus MacLise. Lou’s influences at the time – marked by both a love of rock n roll and the free-jazz aesthetic of Ornette Coleman – found an appropriate counterbalance in the radical postmodernist and neo-classical influences of the other three members. The group laid the initial groundwork for what soon became the Velvet Underground’s effortless hybridization of greasy rock n’ roll and avant-garde minimalism on The Velvet Underground and Nico and White Light White Heat.

From the earliest beginnings, Lou exhibited a rare economy with both chords and words. And his penchant for writing sophisticated, yet undeniably catchy pop songs would later lead to all those countless classics we now know and hum: “Beginning to See The Light,” “Pale Blue Eyes,” “Sweet Jane” and “Rock n Roll,” “Walk On the Wild Side,” and so on, and so on.

Lou Reed Quotes

1) My week beats your year.

2) In the liner notes of Metal Machine Music >> Fuck Radio Ethiopia man, I’m Radio Brooklyn!

3) On his Take No Prisoners album >> LR: “Are you political, Lou? Audience: “Yeah, are you?” LR:”Political about what? You give me an issue, I’ll give you a tissue and you can wipe my ass with it.”

4) On his Take No Prisoners album >> Nothing beats 2 guitars, drum and bass.

5) In the liner notes of New York >> Anyone that gets to side four is dumber than I am.

6) On Frank Zappa >> He’s probably the single most untalented person I’ve heard in my life. He’s a two-bit pretentious academic, and he can’t play rock’n’roll, because he’s a loser. And that’s why he dresses up funny. He’s not happy with himself, and I think he’s right.

7) A royal hall was made for art and queens but not for rock’n’ roll. A theater was made for plays and so on but not for rock’n’roll. Outside was made for the weather but not rock’n’ roll. If we really want to save music let alone rock’n’roll then go to those techno dance clubs, I mean they have all these loud-ass speakers, everyone is always there partying, and so that’s how rock is saved from unwanted capitalistic corporation music. And also if all those metal, grunge, rock, and hey even those gangstas want to play then why not start off like the Beatles in cafes, pubs and bars instead of MTV?


Some people like to go out dancing

Other people they have to work

There’s even some evil mothers

They’ll tell you that everything is just dirt

That women never really faint

Or that villians always blink their eyes

Or that children are the only ones who blush

And that life is just to die

But anyone who ever had a heart

They wouldn’t turn around and break it

And anyone who ever played a part

They wouldn’t turn around and hate it

Just watch me now.

Sweet Jane

And I feel just like Jesus’ son


Life’s like a mayonnaise soda

And life’s like space without room

And life’s like bacon and ice cream

That’s what life’s like without you

What’s Good Full lyrics online

Candy came from out on the Island

In the backroom she was everybody’s darlin’

But she never lost her head

Even when she was giving head

She says, Hey babe

Take a walk on the wild side

Walk on the Wild Side Full lyrics online

Candy says

I’ve come to hate my body

And all that it requires

In this world

. . .

What do you think I’d see

If I could walk away from me

Candy Says

I’ll be your mirror

Reflect what you are

In case you don’t know

I’ll Be Your Mirror

When she turned blue, all the angels screamed.

” Run Run Run”

The Rally Man’s patter ran on through the dawn

Until we said so long to his skull

Shrill yell.

Black Angel’s Death Song

“Just watch,” said Sheila, touching her finger to her head.

The Gift (written by Lou Reed, narrated by John Cale)

You made me forget myself; I thought I was someone else, someone good.

Perfect Day

I watched it for a little while, I like to watch things on TV

Satellite Of Love

An eye for an eye is elemental.

I Believe there are problems in these times, but none of them are mine I’m beginning to see the light

“Beginning to See the Light”

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