HOW STRANGE TO be living in a world without Lou Reed. And how would the pop artist/NYC street guy/noise avatar have regarded the outpouring of sadness and affection that followed yesterday’s announcement? A singer who would lay himself emotionally bare alongside that famous orneriness, maybe with the same mixture of poignancy and volume that this lean live version of 1976 LP title track Coney Island Baby displays.
Recorded live at the Capital Theatre in New Jersey on September 25, 1984, this version loses the original’s verse about playing college football and accentuates instead the narrator’s thinking about his past, granting the city forgiving human characteristics rather than the princess of the studio version. True to form Lou’s the crank who can sneer, “your two-bit friends… they’ve ripped you right off” and then riff on “the glory of love” and have it ring wholly true. This clip also features the late Robert Quine, the ex-Voidoid whose relationship with Reed was sadly soon to disintegrate, contributing transformative, molten guitar.
There are, incidentally, other versions available on YouTube – here’s Lou in gracious mood, with Spanish subtitles, from Barcelona the same year and this one from the comic monologue-packed live double Take No Prisoners.
They both have their distinct appeal. Maybe watch them too, and reflect again – we’re really going to miss this guy.
PHOTO: Getty Images