Peggy might charitably be termed an unreliable narrator, so what follows may or may not be true. The details lend a certain verisimilitude, but Peggy was notorious for inventing details. For all I know she wasn’t even there – as a minor, she certainly shouldn’t have been, but bouncers often found her very persuasive. Anyway, it’s just a story.
May 1978 – perhaps the 15th, the nights are still chilly. Lou Reed is holding court backstage at the Bottom Line. Not in his dressing room (which is either too cramped or simply sacrosanct, hence off limits to the hoi polloi), but in an improvised reception area with five or six picked-over deli trays and three last bottles of Heineken standing sentinel in a vast silver tub. The crushed ice had turned to tepid Croton water hours ago.
Lou is perched on a gray metal folding chair, legs crossed, hunched over and intently studying his cigarette while everyone else studies him. Peggy never sees him take even a single puff – the Marlboro’s sole purpose is to generate ash that Lou nonchalantly flicks on the beer-stained carpet, like a naughty boy daring anyone to offer an ashtray. This being Manhattan, no one is unhip enough to do so, even though there must have been half-a-dozen ashtrays within easy reach.
Lou Reed died on Sunday (October 27). He was 71 years old.
You can fill in his resume in so many ways. Pioneer. Maverick. Icon. Co-founder of the Velvet Underground. Glam rocker. Punk godfather. NYC street poet. The guy who sang “Walk on the Wild Side.” And confounded everyone with Metal Machine Music. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. Husband of Laurie Anderson. Fine art photographer. A man with a true Rock & Roll Heart…
Let’s face it, today’s music scene is more fractured and splintered than ever before. But “Lulu” – the recently released double-album collaboration between Lou Reed and Metallica – seems to have done the impossible, uniting music fans and critics alike.
They all hate it.
So we took a spin around the web and surveyed a few of the reviews that are pouring in. Here’s what we found:
Lou Reed’s “Metal Machine Music” a fabled cacaphony of guitar feedback and tape manipulations released 35 years ago, has been transcribed for strings, winds, guitar, accordion, piano and percussion. It was performed in its entirety at the Miller Theater in New York last Friday by a 16-piece ensemble. Jon Pareles reviewed the show.
If you’ve never heard it the original version, here’s the first nine minutes of side 1:
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