Lou Reed: “He Was Very Smart. Like, Too Smart”

The latest MOJO magazine delves into Lou Reed's life and work. Includes free Reed CD, Transformer feature and Laurie Anderson’s moving insights.

Lou Reed: “He Was Very Smart. Like, Too Smart”

IN A MOVING AND revealing interview about her late partner Lou Reed, musician and artist Laurie Anderson remembers that before they met she thought he was English. When they finally crossed paths, in Munich at a festival organised by John Zorn commemorating Kristallnacht (that’s a Lou Reed first date for you) she was immediately impressed. MOJO 276, featuring Lou Reed, on sale in the UK from Tuesday, September 27.

“That day, I realised, Whoa, this guy is so interesting... I have to say, after 21 years, there was not one single moment when I was bored, not one moment when I knew what was coming next.”

MOJO’s in-depth celebration of Reed’s life and music emerges on UK newsstands on Tuesday, September 27. Besides a free CD of 15 landmark Reed solo recordings and the inside story of his masterly Transformer album, Anderson debunks many assumptions about her husband, including his reputation for moodiness (“I never saw the blackness,” she tells MOJO’s Mark Paytress) and tendency towards hostility.

“People forget that Lou was a writer,” she says, “that he wrote the Lou Reed part too. It was hilarious. All his friends knew what he was doing. It was fun, sometimes it was useful and it was cool – but it was writing. He was writing the rock’n’roll part of his life.”

Anderson is revealing on Reed’s writing methods and intellectual hinterland, his interest in tai chi, meditation and recording technology.

“He was very smart, like, too smart. You'd think, How do you know all that! So much of it was intuition. And he was very dedicated to his teachers…”

“People forget that Lou was a writer, that he wrote the Lou Reed part too. It was hilarious.”

Laurie Anderson

Also in our Lou Reed coverage, timed to coincide with the release of a solo years retrospective – the RCA & Arista Albums Collection, whose remastering Reed himself oversaw – David Fricke mines his past meetings with Reed to assemble the definitive inside story of Transformer, Reed’s Bowie-enabled career-saver, while latter-day producer Hal Willner remembers working closely with Reed, including partnering him on their internet radio show, New York Shuffle. It’s fair to say that Willner remembers a more pungent and demanding Reed than does Anderson.

“I remember we played something off Bob Dylan’s Tempest record, and Lou was, Oh this is great. Then three minutes in it would be, Is the instrumentation gonna change? Can we fade this out? Lou was like, Of course the lyrics are amazing but Bob can do this in his sleep. He’s not trying. That’s what it always came down to: are they trying?”

Also in the latest MOJO magazine: Nick Cave’s courageous new album, Skeleton Tree; The Byrds ignite the psychedelic era with Eight Miles High; a celebration of ska master Prince Buster; checking in with troubled soul-folk superstar Michael Kiwanuka; how The Human League invented modern pop; punch-ups and Pornography with The Cure. Plus: Ward Thomas; Todd Rundgren; Hugh Cornwell; PiL; Bruce Springsteen and Meat Loaf.

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