TO: Lou Reed
FROM: Don Skwatzenschitz
RE: Career advice
I gotta tell you, Lou, you scared the hell out of me at the Warhol crockery exhibit at MoMA last week. I mean, you certainly deserve to catch a little shut-eye as much as the next guy, but in the coat room? Hanging upside down? How’d you get up there in the first place? Never mind; I don’t want to know.
I’ve been thinking about you since that incident, and I’ve got to say, for a guy just starting to finagle his way back into the spotlight here in the States, you have a funny way of promoting yourself. People, strangely enough, get put off by you a lot of times. And you’re a swell guy, Lou. That joke you told at MoMA about Bob Dole and the vat of Vaseline was a riot. Even better was the point in the evening when you and Antony Hegarty sang “Only You (And You Alone)” over by the stoneware exhibit. I never knew you had such a beautiful falsetto.
There are some things you need to consider as you venture further out in the coming year, namely the following:
Put on Metal Machine Music—the arena tour! Your recent shows at the Redcat in Los Angeles featured your peculiar brand of noise/ambient/industrial instrumental music, with something called the Metal Machine Trio. According to some of the accounts I’ve read, the shows were well received by the people who were able to tolerate an evening of such stuff, and who stuck around once they figured out “Walk on the Wild Side” would definitely not get an airing that night. It got me thinking—next year is the 35th anniversary of Metal Machine Music, right? Wouldn’t it be great to take your noise/ambient/industrial instrumental concept into arenas, where you could play all of MMM (or as close an approximation as possible) to as many fans as are willing to fill, say, a 7,000-seat venue? Imagine the sound of all that feedback, bouncing in that empty cavernous space, and off 6,800 empty seats!
Bring on the sequels! Sally Still Can’t Dance. The Blue Mask Still Fits. Even Newer Sensations. New York II. It’s time to revisit your career highlights. Go back to Germany, make a Berlin sequel, perhaps in Dusseldorf. Dusseldorf’s nice … but not too nice. There are probably some transsexuals and heroin addicts there, if you ask around. The point is, though, that everybody loves a good sequel; many even enjoy bad ones. So you’re covered, either way. Plus, I’d love to hear an updated version of “I Love You, Suzanne.” I really would.
Make a duet record with Doug Yule. Elvis Costello singing “Femme Fatale” is excruciating; I’m so glad you didn’t play it with him when you appeared on his TV show. What I would like to hear, however, is you and Doug Yule get back together. Nobody sings “Who Loves the Sun” quite like him, and wasn’t he on Sally Can’t Dance? It’d be the coolest thing since Paul and Artie kissed, made up, and bitched at each other backstage at fine arenas the world over. And you owe him for not including him in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction—he played on Loaded, for Christ’s sake!
More Velvets tapes! Certainly there’s got to be more rickety reel-to-reel tapes you can scour for lost Velvets gems. What about that night during one of the Exploding Plastic Inevitable shows, when you and Sterling got into that farting contest onstage? Or the night Moe played an unwavering 4/4 for 70 minutes with a Tupperware container and two Bic pens? I read somewhere that’s Meg White‘s favorite bootleg. The point is, people want what they cannot have, and if they think there’s more classic, unheard material sitting in your refrigerator, Lou, they’re gonna want it. They’re gonna want it bad. Remember how people fell all over themselves to hear Take 734 of “Strawberry Fields” on the Beatles’ Anthology discs? Imagine what a rehearsal of Nico singing “Maybellene” or “Mary Had a Little Lamb” would do!
Fake your death. Although there are some who might believe you to be dead already (and others who would vouch for your status as a member of the undead), we could probably sell a bundle of those lost Velvets tapes if you were to allegedly shuffle off the old mortal coil. I even know a guy who has a movie script—Lester Bangs and Lou Reed Arm-Wrestle in Heaven—just waiting for your demise; it could bring a little extra publicity your way. And what’s a wilder side to walk on, right? Doo, doo-doo, doo-doo, doo doo-doo doo, doo-doo, doo-doo, doo doo-doo …
All the best,