LOU REED: Transformed
p>Do you think the truth or the connection point is pretty true to all those things? Or does it shift with the medium?
It’s the same. Guaranteed. Look, being a songwriter…We met a guy in Chile the other day, a cartoonist. Laurie had done a show, and I’d played guitar. The guy created a cartoon out of it. He came the next day with it, and it was really good. A whole page thing, interpreting songs… And he said, “I’m a cartoonist.” I thought, “That’s a fun thing to say about yourself…” Like, I’m a songwriter. I do a couple things. One of them is being a songwriter.
I saw your show at Hermès. The pictures of New York.
It was also in the Kasher Gallery. There was a book available. That was book number one. Now, there’s book number two, which is also out. I’m working on book number three.
Do they come from the same place?
Can you say where that is? Can you define it?
Do you know where it starts?
If I could, it would mean I could do it whenever I wanted-and I can’t. I have no idea how to go about it. I really don’t. I get asked all the time… Believe me, if I could, you’d've heard “Son of Wild Side” by now.
Would you go back? Expand on that reality?
No…I’m not in the same place.
And yet you went back to Berlin. There was a film. And it’s so impossibly evocative… Was it a homecoming? A reclamation?
It was a performance.
Going back to that thing of all things… My major interests are the lyrics of that. It wasn’t the Velvet Underground. No, [Berlin] was something else: the one that almost sunk the ship. Funny… That’s the one to go back to?
Were you driven to it? Or pulled?
Susan Feldman from St Ann’s… I’ve known her a long time. She’s asked me this every year for a long time. Susan’s the reason John Cale and I did Songs for Drella. I’ve done a lot of things for Susan. I did The Raven for Susan. She’s the only person who would have us…and I love that she does. I was there with Laurie, Fisher Stevens, Richard Belzer-doing readings from my thing-The Raven, which is rewriting Edgar Allen Poe. That was really fun. So much of the language is hard to understand…A lot of words were arcane when he started writing, architectural terms. Then the rhythm of it all-and he did the first detective story. But also the psychology of Poe. “You were made for him…” Susan said, “Why don’t you do this…?” She was like “I love [Berlin] so much. Why don’t you just do the whole thing from beginning to end, the way the record is-the way you meant it to be?” I was out of work again, so I figured, “Why not? Maybe it will be great fun.”
Yeah, great fun. When we toured Europe, I really had it down. The one that’s on film with Julian, that’s really just opening the door… That’s why Bob Ezrin was conducting. He didn’t want to be onstage. I said, “Well you have to…I can’t do the guitar and those cues and those words… I can’t.” Turns out I could; but at the time, I needed a guiding hand. There’s a lot going on. Bob still has the arrangements. Those aren’t my arrangements. I wrote the songs and the melodies, but all the arrangements were Bob’s. The core band is my guys, and then Steve Bernstein and the horns, the strings… that’s [Hal] Wilner. The choir: the Brooklyn Youth Choir. Rupert Christy was all the keyboards, all the synthesizers, if you want a breakdown, and Anthony Dejewell would work overtime with the choir…