Lou Reed: Street Hassle

I got into Lou Reed when most people did, in College. I had bought the Rolling Stone Album Guide, 1987 edition and saw that this band 'The Velvet Underground' came highly rated. I had great loyalty to that Album Guide. I didn't even listen to 'White Light/White Heat' for two years because I was wary that its 3 Star-ness might taint my love for the other 4-Star Velvet's albums. I got into Lou at the same time as my friend Lumpy. We even went on the radio to talk about Lou. Like at 1am midweek, Mornington Public Radio in Melbourne, which had a broadcast signal of about 2 pubs, which was a good thing since our friends started crank-calling the station and I was drunk and Lumpy froze up and the host started talking about the "angst ridden tones of Gordon Gano."

Lumpy used to accuse me of being spoiled and not respecting peoples property. I dont think this was at all accurate: i used to empty the house vacuum cleaner to find coins to buy 'Horizon' cigarettes, the cheapest smokes available, boxed 50-at-a-time in a big blue carton with clouds on it that made them look like a package of tampons. But maybe Lumpy thought that I was spoiled because Lumpy only owned basically 4 possessions. He had a couple posters from the Australian tourism board advertising rainforests that he had laminated. He had a toaster. Actually he only had the toaster for like 2 months. One day I turned it on and threw my keys in the slot and blew it up just 'cause. And Lumpy had a guitar which he cared about more than anything else in the world. It wasn't a particularly good guitar or of any sentimental value but it was his guitar and he was a guitarist and he loved the thing. So one day a bunch of us were stoned and Lumpy and some other friends are trying to convince me that Dion, who they knew from his guest vocal on Lou Reed's "Dirty Boulevard" was a black guy.

"His name is Dimucci you fucking Bogans" but they didnt believe me so I ran into my room and got Exhibit A: a copy of Rolling STone magazine that had an illustration of Dion and I jumped up on the bed and held it up high, and I stumbled back, off the bed and put my foot right through the neck of Lumpy's guitar and it cracked like a bone and he burst into tears and ran from the room. I felt terrible. I couldnt afford to replace the thing. But then our friend Tim told me he knew this guy. SO we drove to the outer suburbs to this place that looked like Astoria, Queens but with a relentless blue sky, and he took me to this ancient man who lived with his ancient wife. The wife spent all day gardening. Well it wasnt really gradening, since she had the garden paved over and all the plants placed in pots. Maybe she did this so she wouldnt twist an ankle on a root, or maybe she liked the neatness or control, and wasnt so much a gardner as a commander of natures forces, spending her days setting the shrubs into formations, mobilizing the lupins. The old man spent all his time in a cluttered old workshop out back. He had devoted his working life to handcrafting instruments, mostly classical ones, and was apparently something of a legend at it, having worked on violins and cellos for the country's top orchestras. He was retired and a bit arthritic now but had little else to do, and was thrilled to take Lumpys crippled guitar off our hands. A few days later we returned and he had completely rebuilt the neck, laminated it and all. It was actually better then new. You don't need to pay me he said, but Tim made me give him $50.

SO the point is Im NOT spoiled ,and while in a way I dont respect property, I also DO respect property, or at least I pay other people to.

The other point of this story is that if you want to make an 11-minute, 3 Act song about a girl dying, and you want to record it live, with cellos and talking instead of singing, then you dont want a team of professional songwriters and ProTools and Kelly Clarkson. You want Lou Reed, thats it, he's the list.