Why Don’t You Smile

John Cale was profiled in The New York Times last Sunday. Creeping up on his 81st birthday, Cale has a new album out, may Jah bless and keep him. The article is well-written and does a better job than I could of summarizing his career. Here’s a link; if you’re stymied...

Sneaky Pete

It occurs to me that “The Ostrich” must have sold a fair number of copies somewhere along the line, because when I looked for one a while back it was not hard to find. I think I paid $10 plus a few dollars shipping. In addition to the original 1964 release, there...

The Ostrich

Every Lou Reed biography I have tells the story of “The Ostrich” differently, but my favorite version is the one in Victor Bockris’s Transformer: One day in January 1965, Lou, who had not let hepatitis slow him down, had ingested a copious quantity of drugs. As he...

W & X, Y, Z Blues/Lou’s 12-Bar Instrumental

For those of you keeping track at home, there were five home recordings from 1963–64 on the sloppily titled Lou Reed: Words & Music, May 1965 compilation: the two Dylan “covers” (“Baby, Let Me Follow You Down” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”); “Michael,...

Michael, Row the Boat Ashore

. Why, one has to wonder, did Lou Reed record himself doing “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore” sometime in 1963 or 1964? Maybe he was applying for a job as a camp counselor, I dunno. In any case I set out to educate myself about this song, which I associate with campfires...

Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right

The most surprising thing about the Lou Reed: Words & Music, May 1965 compilation — which again, for the record, also includes tapes from 1958 and 1963–64 — is how folky it is. Even the demos recorded with John Cale have a lot more granola in them than we...

Baby, Let Me Follow You Down (2)

Go ahead and click Play on this — I promise we’ll be done by the time it’s over: . On June 6 I wrote, There is no recording of Lou Reed singing Bob Dylan’s “Baby, Let Me Follow You Down” in 1963. And technically that is still true! But there is a tape of him doing an...

Gee Whiz

New shit has come to light, man.—J. Lebowski Up to this point everything this blog has covered has been in chronological order, or some close approximation thereof. But the recent release of Light in the Attic Records’ Lou Reed: Words & Music, May 1965 has thrown...

It’s Hard for a Girl in a World Full of Men

Finally we have arrived at the last song on Soundsville!, and it’s a bit of an outlier: a solo female vocal accompanied only by acoustic guitar. Though pretty folky in sound — it’s the album’s “campus” number — “It’s Hard for a Girl in a World Full of Men” is playful,...

I’ve Got a Tiger in My Tank/Cycle Annie

If the song “I’ve Got a Tiger in My Tank” —credited on Soundsville! to the Beachnuts — sounds like a commercial, there’s a reason for that. According to the extremely helpful web page “A pre-VU discography,” it was “originally a commercial Jerry Vance [part of the...