Remembering Lou Reed: Conversations with Journalist A.D. Amorosi

Lou Reed and Metallica
Lou Reed and Metallica

There are so many things that sprung to mind when I heard the news that Lou Reed had died on October, 27, 2013, at age 71, from complications due to liver damage (he had a liver transplant in May 2013) . I immediately grieved for his wife, Laurie Anderson. I was devastated that punk rock’s architect was gone. I also remembered that Reed had called me an “ass----” on more than one occasion. Of this, I couldn’t be prouder.

When word broke that Reed had passed away, it hurt my heart. It wasn’t only the music critic part of me that had adored his work as part of the minimalist Velvet Underground, and a solo career that continued its provocative nature up to his last recording, 2011’s Lulu. It wasn’t just the book reviewer part of me (1993’s Between Thought and Expression and its lyrics selected by Reed is a must read) or even the film reviewer part, as his talky roles in Blue in the Face (1995) and One Trick Pony (1980) were the best parts of each movie.

On a personal level, Reed’s work – from his dry, icy voice, to his terse, poetic lyricism, to his lean, muscular and aggressive musicality that could turn on a dime to include the sweet and the sonorous (Reed’s “Perfect Day” can currently be heard in a commercial for PlayStation4) – certainly inspired the sense of spirited, weird, freedom that fills my work.

Reed was an artist and a man who took no prisoners when he played or when he consented to interviews. He sparred boldly with critic Lester Bangs, and offered journalists the best of his acerbic wit and his own distinct twists upon the truth. I interviewed Reed on several occasions: once for the long-defunct Pulse (the first time he called me an ass----), once for the Philadelphia Inquirer (cannot be accessed currently) and, most recently, for Blurt, on the occasion of his collaboration with Metallica, Lulu. Reed inspired those around him to pull no punches, so when he asked me if I liked Lulu, I responded with cool reserve. This caused Reed, who was otherwise gleeful throughout the interview, to call me an "ass----." I wasn’t hurt or offended by this outburst; I got the feeling that if Reed considered you a worthy adversary (or at least a critic worth your salt), he made sure he gave it as good as he got it. Such a passionate discourse with one of my heroes meant the world to me, then and now.

Godspeed, Lou. To paraphrase “Berlin,” one of my favorite Reed songs, “baby, it was paradise.”


The last interview A.D. Amorosi did with Lou Reed was first published in the November 2011 print issue of Blurt, and republished at last week (October 2013) in correlation with the release of Metallica’s pseudo-documentary Through the Never.

Photo credit: Anton Corbijn

Published on Monday, October 28, 2013