Book Review: Read My Lips

Thirty years of final grouses from a New Yorker

Read My Lips

Lou Reed: The Last Interview and Other Conversations

Melville House, 128 pp., $15.95 (paper)

"Why would anyone want to be interviewed? Anybody in their right mind? Why would you, if the position was reversed, want to sit here and have me ask questions about you? 'What was it like, this failure you had when you were 22, David?'" Yet, Lou Reed proceeded to be expertly interviewed by Rolling Stone senior writer David Fricke in 1989. With this dichotomy, Melville House chose to close their "last" series with arguably the most difficult interview in rock & roll history. Reed's continual axe-grinding notes the changing tenor of American society (then to present time) to an "increasingly conservative disposition," to which the subject's catalog runs more avant-garde today than upon original release. Reed's conversation with author Paul Auster in 1996 finds the singer at ease and in full comfort, able to partake in an equitable give and take. David Marchese's 2008 interview for Spin seems an obvious exercise in heavy-handed baiting, quickly angling into "look, Reed's grumpy again." The most dynamic of the bunch is Lester Bangs' 1975 entry for former music powerhouse Creem, which quickly devolves into a dick-measuring contest of erosive degeneration. Bangs attempts to shovel quick-hardening concrete over his hero that never was, at once exposing Reed's infantile pettiness and insolence, while suffering from similar traits of childish difficulty.

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Lou Reed, Velvet Underground, David Fricke

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