Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Deep End: That's The Story Of A Life

A tribute to Lou Reed.

Here is the script I was working from. Sometimes the segments from Metal Machine Music compete with my voice a bit (hey, that's why I'm back in school, to improve my audio production skills!), so here's what I'm saying (ad libs aside):

So what you are hearing right now in the background is the album Metal Machine Music, Lou Reed’s controversial experimental music album released in 1975. Lou Reed just passed away this weekend, aged 71, and on tonight’s Deep End we’re going to spend the entire hour paying tribute to his life and work, both solo and with his groundbreaking band from the 60s, the Velvet Underground. We’re going to start quietly with the very first song from the Velvets’ debut album. I first got the news about Lou when I woke up yesterday, and had to immediately reach for this. How strangely appropriate that we find out the bad news on a Sunday morning.

“Beginning To See The Light” from the Velvet Underground’s 1969 Live album, probably the most influential record ever for me. I was 20 when I first heard it, and it just swept away everything else I had ever heard. It was like folk-rock but with the power and directness of punk. The music wasn’t showy; it got straight to the point, while the lyrics had this sly, deadpan wit that made me want to be as cool and worldly wise as that guy singing. Becoming a Velvet Underground fan then was like joining a secret society where everything was smart, dark, sexy and a little bit scary. What more does a kid growing up want? And Lou Reed and Sterling Morrison elevated the rhythm guitar at a time when everyone else thought guitar playing was about doing the fastest solos possible. It was a different way of looking at music that ultimately changed everything. More Velvets and solo Lou coming up.

“Real Good Time Together”, a great, slightly insane remake of an old Velvets song from Lou Reed’s album Street Hassle from 1977, when the CBGB’s scene was helping to bring him a whole new audience. We started with “Some Kinda Love”, from the third Velvet Underground album, an oddly quiet record from a band who often made a lot of noise. I think this album in particular is the source of the whole twee indie-pop sound, but Lou’s lyrics come from another place entirely. We’re gonna break for a promo, and then showcase more of Lou’s solo work, starting with a great one from Transformer, his first hit record, produced by David Bowie.

Intense. That was “Waves Of Fear”, from The Blue Mask by Lou Reed, with some great guitar from the late Bob Quine. Before that, “Vicious”, from Transformer. That song makes me think of certain former friends who claimed to be flower children but were really just vicious. Next in our special Deep End tribute to Lou Reed, a song from the album New York, where Lou started branching into social commentary, in his own wonderfully abrasive style.

Lou Reed just gave us “The Last Shot”, a song from the 80s that could be about giving up any number of bad habits. Before that we had “Dirty Blvd.”, which featured a little guest cameo at the end from doo-wop legend Dion DiMucci. You’re listening to The Deep End with J Neo Marvin as we continue our tribute to the late Lou Reed. Coming up, one of my favorites, the opening track on Lou’s very first solo album, “I Can’t Stand It”.

The most important thing is “Work”! That’s from Songs For Drella, an album by Lou Reed and his former Velvet Underground comrade John Cale where they told their version of the life of Andy Warhol, who actually managed the band for a while. This is a song that shows another side of Warhol than we usually hear about, namely his relentless work ethic. Next we have something special from one of Lou’s final albums, the double CD The Raven. It’s special because Lou Reed had a lifelong love for avant-garde jazz, and in this song he got to collaborate with free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman, on a little psychodrama called “Guilty”. It’s a terrible thing to be consumed by irrational guilt, and Lou nails that feeling here.

Another less-celebrated track from the 80s, “High In The City”. Lou captures the paradox of being swept up with a loved one in a state of public intoxication, and at the same time being wary of all the other intoxicated people around you! Like all great writers, Lou’s genius was in his attention to detail. We started with “Guilty” from The Raven, and in between we had another gem from the 3rd self-titled Velvet Underground album, “That’s The Story Of My Life”. We’re approaching the close of this take on the story of the life of the great Lou Reed, but before we turn it over to Matt Freitas and Good Times Are So Hard To Find, we’re going to hear one final song by the Velvets, Lou Reed’s hymn to the redemptive power of “Rock & Roll”.


Substance McGravitas said...

Good picks. I did a tribute that is framed in mean language, but Metal Machine Music really is terrific, as are a whole bunch of other songs.

J Neo Marvin said...

I love it enough to have drowned out my own voice with it on the radio!

J Neo Marvin said...

And your children's choir version is amazing.