Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Meditations


Hear an interview with Lou Reed talking about his final album.

Lou Reed at Echoes interview 2007

Lou Reed at Echoes interview 2007

You may not think of Lou Reed, who passed away on October 27, as a meditative kind of guy, but the founding member of The Velvet Underground and purveyor of proto-punk songs created an electronic CD designed for meditation and body work, in particular, Tai Chi, of which he was a staunch devotee.  It’s called Hudson River Wind Meditations.  Who knew in 2007 that it would be his final album.  In this Echoes interview from that year, Lou Reed talked about his ambient spaces.

Lou Reed wasn’t the kind of artist you usually hear on Echoes, but his music had an impact on many of the artists you do hear on the show from Moby to Robert Rich.   Musicians who could be Reed’s great grandchildren like Tessa Murray and Greg Hughes of Still Corners are citing him.  I’ve always had mixed feelings about Lou Reed.  In the 60s, I was more inclined to the dreamy flower power of San Francisco and London than the dark, debauched undertones of New York.  I still remember writer Ralph J. Gleeson’s excoriating review of Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable –  which included the Velvet Underground – when they played the original Fillmore Auditorium.   As a founder of Rolling Stone Magazine and the Monterey Jazz Festival, and early proponent of artists from Miles Davis to The Jefferson Airplane, Gleason was a hero and his review shaped a lot of my feelings about VU and Lou.

Echoes' John Diliberto & Lou Reed

Echoes’ John Diliberto & Lou Reed

But somehow, the Velvets and Lou Reed wormed themselves into my life.  My older cousin Goody enthused to me about “The Gift” making me listen to the John Cale rendered tale of the macabre concocted by Lou Reed.   I heard a charming interview with the band on some late-Sunday night AM radio show near Boston in ’67.  Drummer Mo Tucker wasn’t there because she was “at church.” You couldn’t deny the seductive, droll-Fellini charm of “Walk on The Wild Side,” and Street Hassle and The Bells were both ambitious works I reviewed at the time.  Then there was Metal Machine Music, his noise manifesto, which included a written manifesto about the future of music which I read over the air on WXPN’s Diaspar program while the music squalled in the background.  And when he started hanging with Laurie Anderson, I couldn’t deny him his props.

HudsonBut he still wasn’t an artist we’d play on Echoes until he released what has turned out to be his final album, Hudson River Wind Meditations.  It was indeed, a meditation CD, albeit one of the most minimally ambient kind.  Even that was too extreme to play on the air, but I thought, when else would I have the opportunity to interview Lou Reed?

Given his reputation for cantankerousness, I had more trepidation than I usually would.  But I had a few things I thought would engage him.  The first was commenting on the deep bass tones of the album which my woofers couldn’t really handle.  Being something of a tech geek, he loved that I commented on that aspect.  And then, it didn’t hurt that I had a picture of Laurie Anderson on an Echoes brochure I gave him.    When his manager popped in after ten minutes to cut the interview short, Reed waved him off and we talked for over an hour about noise, meditation,Tai Chi, LaMonte Young and more.

You can hear that interview here.

We’re saddened by the passing of Lou Reed, who left an indelible mark on music. And our deepest sympathies go out to his wife, artist/musician Laurie Anderson, who found her soulmate in an unlikely place.

Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Meditations.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))   https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1591795540/echoes

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