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The Friday Morning Listen: Lou Reed – Set The Twilight Reeling

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To be honest with you, I had intended to write about Kansas. An ad had been playing during the Olympics with some dude rocking out in his car to "Point Of Know Return." Not sure what the product was, but the guy playing air drums and raising his hands (air, uh…emotive lead singer?) during "How long?!!!"…well, it was a crackup. I figured I could riff on guilty pleasures (again) or maybe sturdy 70s rock and why everybody likes to make fun of it. Heck, I bet I could even work in something about the time I took a Polaroid shot of the custom van with the "Know Return" paint job on the town pier in Bar Harbor.

Yeah, well so much for that 'cause I don't own any Kansas CDs. I could have sworn I at least had a copy of Leftoverture.

Ah, no matter, because while digging through the piles I came across a Laurie Anderson disc. This lead me to Lou Reed, partly because of the marriage connection and partly because there was another ad during the Olympics that featured Reed's "Perfect Day." I say this like I know what I'm talking about but that's a load of hooey, because the first time I saw the ad (OK, the second time…the first time I got lost in Gretchen Bleiler's eyes) I thought "Wait…hmmm, that sounds like Lou Reed…if he could actually sing." So I looked it up and it was confirmed as a song off of Transformer.

Yeah, well I don't own Transformer on CD. I do have Rock n Roll Animal but it wasn't on the rack (big surprise). So while I pondered this, I flashed back to the night I went to a Laurie Anderson lecture. It was sort of bizarre in that it was quite normal. I'm not sure what I expected, but she just came out to the podium, received our crazed applause with honest deprecation, and then began talking. I can't even remember what she spoke about, though there was one strange bit worth noting. At one point she put up the first frame of a slide show and then continued to speak. As she went on the images changed and after a short time it became apparent that the pictures had absolutely nothing to do with what she was talking about. This went on for about 10 minutes until she happened to see something move out of the corner of her eye. She turned back to us and jokingly asked "Why didn't you say something!!" This is Laurie Anderson! I'd be willing to bet that the rest of the attendees where busting their brain parts trying to figure out what the theme of the photos was and how it related to the lecture content. Oops.

Anyway, after that quick flash I got to thinking about the weirdness of Lou and Laurie. Given their past artistic proclivities, do you think their home life is really that weird? I mean, does Lou get up in the morning and do something normal? Like eat a bowl of Cornflakes? Maybe with soy milk? Does Laurie sit there looking over the top of her glasses, doing the Times crossword. Is a CD of Miles Davis playing in the background? Would I be disappointed if any of these events were actually quite common with them?

I don't quite know why I'm drawn to these questions. Sometimes, with what a lot of people consider to be oddball tastes, I'm comforted by the fact that there are other folks out there in the world who don't exactly fit in either. Yeah sure, I get up in the morning, get in my generic car, drive to work and enter that generic chunk of concrete, push around bits, and then put everything in reverse. Throughout the day, I'm more than a little aware of the fact that I'd rather be sitting on the back porch reading that book of Robert Creeley poems…or flipping through that book of architectural patterns…or trying to cobble words together to adequately describe this klezmer/hip-hop disc somebody sent to me….or…

…anything but sitting here in this concrete box.

And then I wonder if Lou owns any Kansas records. That smile stayed on my face for at least five minutes.

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About Mark Saleski

  • Liked the article. I don’t picture Reed having any Kansas album. Interestingly, I realised last month that I didn’t have “Leftoverture” in my collection, despite having it 20 yrs ago on casette and listening to it umpteen times.

    I recently enjoyed the “Perfect Day” commercial too. Check out my article if you’d like.

    And pick up “Transformer” – it’s fantastic! 😉

  • i’ll definitey check out your article jerry.

    yeah, it’s sort of silly that i don’t have Transformer on cd…or any of this other early stuff either.

    i DO have a pristine copy of Metal Machine Music on vinyl tho…;-)

  • Josh Hathaway

    Lou Reed and VU is an area of the music world I’ve never wandered. I’ve heard snippets and it’s never reached out to me. I’m not opposed to it nor have I ruled out investigating it. It’s just that — and Mark, we have talked about this — there are so few hours in the day and so many things that scream out and call to me that I just haven’t had time to invest in something that hasn’t. I sometimes make myself investigate those corners and have been thinking about Reed after reading Palmer and Bangs talk about him, but see I needed these Lurrie Bell CDs. 🙂

  • zingzing

    josh, velvet underground is one of the best american bands ever. they are certainly the most important, considering the direction of music before and after they were on the scene. even though very few people listened to them, it seems that they inspired people like no other. their 3rd (s/t) and 4th (loaded) albums are easier to get into than their first two, which are, respectively, really avant and really loud, so i would suggest moving backwards if you’re coming from a mainstream direction.

    really, though, it’s the totality of their career that is so damned stunning. they did everything, and they did it all in an astoundingly creative way. they were 10 years ahead of their time, and some of their stuff has never been reached, even though many have tried.

    i couldn’t think of another artist whose career is so brilliant and so accessible. they’re so easy to get into. there are no superlatives that are out of the range of this band.

  • oh gawd zing, i could listen to Venus In Furs every…frickin…day.