LOU REED: Transformed
Not too many [songwriters], when they write songs go for broke. When someone does who’s really good, it’s astonishing. There’s a reason a three-minute song can devastate you, or make you get up and dance, stop what you’re doing and go, “What is that?” It just hits you. And it’s a very potent thing you’re playing around with. Some people don’t like that: they don’t like the subject matter, what it’s about-they don’t like the musicians. I’d always say, “Well, you know, the ending of Hamlet‘s not so uplifting…What do you think about Othello and Desdemona? What can we learn from this?”
Now there’s jealousy. And Berlin, if it’s about anything, it’s about jealousy. Talk about a universal emotion?! No one hasn’t been jealous; amongst all the other things, but big time, the guy’s jealous! He’s being killed by jealousy. A lot of things are going on on top of it all….The green-eyed monster it is.
I’ve read all of that Poe, who is also a master of knowing about paranoia, ache, loving, unrequited love. On The Raven… Berlin is great and all, but The Raven? Oh, God…Elizabeth Ashley. No one got to hear this, and it’s sad, because she is epic in this.
We worked so hard on these guitar things, these electronic sounds. It’s awesome. And she’s behind it all. She’s a volcano. It’s wonderful to see someone turn emotions off and on like that.
If I really had my way, I would’ve started out as an actor and stayed there. Or write-write myself a role, write monologues.
My lyric book is coming out. They’re going to put The Raven, stuff I’ve written since it was [first] published. Brando in the car, talking: “I coulda been somebody…I coulda been somebody instead of a bum, which, let’s face it Charlie, is what I am. It was you Charlie…”
You could hear it. It’s so obvious. Why’d you do specifically that?
Or Liz doing Blanche DuBois [sings the line] : “I have always depended…on…the kindness…of… strangers…” There you go. But you have to write that book that well. It’s an obvious thing to do with music…
In a weird way, it is obvious. It’s so obvious; it fails to qualify as an idea. My teacher, Delmore Schwartz, wrote this story, “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities,” which is a line from Yeats…and, like, in five pages with very simple language; it’s one of the most devastating short stories. T.S. Eliot wrote him a letter, saying, “This is one of the greatest pieces of writing.”
There’s not one polysyllabic word in it. I said, “You know, if you can do this, why would you do anything else?” I mean, wouldn’t that be something? It’s just so obvious.
What else would you do? [A man scuttles across the street diagonally]