Sunday, November 22, 2009
Sorry Laurie, I was wrong [or, Where have you gone Lou Reed? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.]
I know that many people—including me—have the tendency to say that when Lou Reed hooked up with Laurie Anderson many years back, they might have found success as a couple, but they undercut each other’s musical creativity (or actually reinforced negative creative elements for each of them—see Lou’s “The Raven” and Laurie’s “Life on a String” to see how low those undercuts could go).
That said, I am not here to pass judgment on whether the tradeoff was worth it for each of them (awwww, look at the way they stare at each other!) even if the artistic devolution could be proven in a musical court, but I do wonder now if this assessment is completely wrong. Maybe the question we should be asking ourselves is: how was it that Lou was able to deliver 2.5 masterful albums over the course of a four-year period (1989’s “New York” , 1990’s “Songs for Drella” with John Cale, and some of the first half of 1992’s “Magic and Loss”)? Because, I think it can be argued, these are the only worthwhile albums he has done between 1982’s “The Blue Mask” and today [sorry, I just don’t think the closest contender “New Sensations” and the rest of “Magic and Loss” hold up very well]. So, in nearly 28 years, we really only have four-year period track record of success, nested within an overwhelmingly dry period just short of three decades. I guess what I am saying is that I am withdrawing, effective Nov. 22, 2009, my “Blame Laurie” comments from the last many years and will be calling a spade a spade from now on and holding Lou accountable for his own output (or lack thereof). I am still working on my explanation for why the 1989—1992 period was a fertile one for Lou in the studio, but I think the key reasons will revolve around the return of Mo Tucker and John Cale as collaborators during that timeframe, or maybe something to do with Louis Farrakhan. One final thing: I saw Lou Reed in 1996 at the Warfield in San Francisco on his “Twilight Reeling” tour and in 2000 at the Orpheum in Minneapolis on his “Ecstasy” tour and had a great time at both shows. But let’s be honest, I did not clap as loudly on "Egg Cream", “Hang on to Your Emotions”, and “Future Farmers of America” as I did for “Sweet Jane”, “Vicious", and “Satellite of Love”. Though, I must note, the overall level of audience clapping at the Warfield for "Sex with Your Parents (Motherfucker) Part II" was quite loud.