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Saturday, January 14, 2012

1-14-12 Survival Jobs for Writer-Musicians – Starter Job #12 (More Back to Trixie Days with Lou Reed)

Like I said, the day I interviewed Lou Reed, that was an entirely different story. . . and certainly one I enjoy retelling:

I can only imagine that the editorial staff of the Village Voice was having a pretty wacked-out editorial meeting one day in ‘75, because Richard Goldstein – not even a music editor – approached me to interview Lou Reed for the Village Voice. My first interview as a rock writer! Wow.

For Trixie A. Balm to interview this legendary curmudgeon seems pretty wacky now in retrospect, doesn’t it? I mean, here I was, a kid really, OK eighteen but I looked fourteen, and dressed like an original young hippie/eccentric, very thrift store, with straight, waist-long light auburn hair. I loved Berlin and Sally Can’t Dance, and knew almost nothing about Reed’s previous group, The Velvet Underground. He would have hated to talk about it, anyway (his publicist, Barbara Carr, warned me not to bring the Velvets up – as if I could, given my lack of background and youth!).

SUNY Purchase classmate and photographer Ron Fortunato was in tow as lensman, and we drove down from SUNY Purchase one exciting day to be subjected to Mr. Mumbles himself, Lou Reed, as he vented, vented, vented.

Being my very first interview, I’ll bet editor Goldstein was either feeling very silly or assigned it on a dare from a colleague. . . whatever happened, the piece didn’t run in the Voice so Danny Fields, bless his heart, suggested I send it to the VV’s competitor, The Soho Weekly News – and thank God SWN ran it!

In the large conference room at RCA records, Lou tilted his chair back, pointy Italian motorcycle boots crossed on the table, mirrored shades and three-day stubble on his chin. A real punk poseur. The interview was going, er, just grimly until I broke down and started to cry in anger and frustration. I never could have planned it; instinct took over and I blurted out at him, “You’re not the only person, y’know, who’s gone through shit, who’s been in the mental hospital, who’s suffered –“ Bless his innter sensitive nature, Lou became at once kind and even articulate. He actually dropped his whiny, surly pose, sat up, and acted like a human being, mumbling slightly less, but HUMAN. After the interview, he invited me to a rehearsal his band was doing at SIR studios in the West ‘50’s. . . . of course I went!

Scratch a Pisces, get a cold fish or a Christ-symbol – I suppose.

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