Michael Goldberg's 1996 Interview With Lou Reed

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Lou Reed’s Rock and Roll Heart. In 1996, Michael Goldberg,  Editor of Addicted To Noise, interviewed Lou Reed on the occasion of the release of Set The Twilight Reeling.

“At 54, Lou Reed has mellowed out a bit–but not too much,’ wrote Goldberg, who spoke with rock’s avant-garde avatar about censorship (on the Internet and elsewhere), art, recognition and heroin.

New York City

Lou Reed is dressed in black. Black leather pants. Black t-shirt. Black shoes. Electricity is, literally, crackling off him, as he stands in his elegantly cool, private sixth floor office at the back of Sister Ray Enterprises, overlooking Broadway in the Village.

“Did you hear that?” he asks, walking over to an open window and closing it.

I think he’s referring to the street sounds, but I’m wrong.

At Sister Ray, there are Lou Reed and Velvet Underground posters on the walls, as well as framed gold and platinum albums for New York. A rack holds copies of many of Reed’s older albums; boxes of the recent Velvet Underground boxed set sit on a bookcase. A photographer is setting up to shoot Reed up front. Reed’s publicist is on the phone, dealing from a couch at the back, just outside the room where Reed and I are talking. Nearby is Reed’s Internet expert, Struan Oglanby.

”I’m getting a shock every time I get up,” Reed says with a grimace, taking a seat back at his desk. “That was that snapping sound.” Then, in that classic Lou Reed monotone, “I conduct a lot of electricity. It’s really strange.”

Maybe not so strange. We are, after all, talking about Lou Reed, founder of the Velvet Underground. Writer of such highly charged songs as “Heroin,” “I’m Waiting For The Man,” “Sweet Jane” and, of course, “Rock & Roll.” And Lisa Says.” And “Walk On The Wild Side.” And “Satellite Of Love.” And “The Blue Mask.” And “Romeo Had Juliette.” And “Dirty Blvd.” And….

For over 30 years, he has recorded albums that have ranged from truly brilliant (Street Hassle) to downright annoying, yet revolutionary (Metal Machine Music), from insightful (New York, Magic & Loss) to, well, not so hot (Mistrial). Mostly though, Reed has managed that difficult feat of simultaneously making rock ‘n’ roll and art.

“I don’t want to be pretentious to call it art,” he says quickly, when I bring up the A-word. “But I hope that it’s pure and good enough and honest enough of thought and expression to be… “His voice trails off. He lays his hands flat on the desk that separates us.

Then, as if to say to hell with this humility bullshit, he says, “I’m trying to make art out of it.”

You can read the rest of the interview at the Addicted To Noise Archive: Lou Reed’s Rock and Roll Heart


Brian Wise

Brian Wise was the Editor of Addicted To Noise‘s Australian site from 1997 – 2002. The site won two ONYA Awards as Best Online Music Magazine in 1999 & 2000. He has also been Editor since its reincarnation in 2013. He also presents the weekly music interview program Off The Record on 102.7 Triple R-FM (rrr.org.au) in Melbourne. It is networked to 45+ stations across Australia on the Community Radio Network and is a four-time winner of the Best Music Program Award from the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia. In 2012, it was nominated as a finalist in the Excellence in Music Programming category. Brian was also the Founding Editor & Publisher of Rhythms Magazine and is now its Senior Contributing Editor.

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