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...