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Lou Reed 1942-2013

From 1997 this is a BBC arrangement and recording of Lou Reed’s ‘Perfect Day’ (‘Perfect Day’ is originally from the Transformer album, from 1972, produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson).

Of this recording and arrangement Lou Reed said “I have never been more impressed with a performance of one of my songs.” The accompanying film-work is pretty good too. (The film ends with the message: “Whatever your musical taste, it is catered for by BBC Radio and Television. This is only possible thanks to the unique way the BBC is paid for by you. BBC […] You make it what it is.” In response to accusations from commercial competitors that the publicly-funded corporation had wasted vast sums on the making of this promotional film—it has a galaxy of top names, Bowie, Elton John, Bono, Tammy Wynette, Suzanne Vega, et cetera, along with Reed himself, of course,—it was revealed that each artist received a “token” £250 because of their belief in the BBC.)

“Reed died this weekend at the age of seventy-one,” writes Sasha Frere-Jones in the New Yorker (‘Postscript: Lou Reed’), “on Long Island, likely from complications following a liver transplant in May. He is survived by his wife, the artist and musician Laurie Anderson. The measure of his influence and importance dwarfs the news item, the obituary, the tribute. He is everywhere.…When, as a teenager, I decided that Reed had figured out part of what I wanted to figure out, I sat at my father’s electric typewriter and transcribed the lyrics to every Velvet Underground album. Transcribing “The Gift” was a task that changed me, as it happened. The lyrics, written by Reed, are recited only in the left channel, by the bassist John Cale. I had to pin the balance to the side to hear Cale’s voice, stop, write, start again. When I was done, I realized that the song was about a man named Waldo Jeffers who has mailed himself to his lover in a box. At low volume, you might not even notice the story at all. And so, what was more surprising, that you could hide a short story on a rock record, or that you could release something so grisly on a record? (I won’t spoil it if you’re new to the Velvets.)”

[Excerpt from Sasha Frere-Jones’ piece in the New Yorker (‘Postscript: Lou Reed’): http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/sashafrerejones/2013/10/postscript-lou-reed-obit.html]

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