Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday Music: Early Lou Reed

In 1959, seventeen-year-old Lewis "Lou" Reed was sent to the Creedmore State Psychiatric Hospital for eight weeks of electroshock treatment. The treatments were intended to prevent mood swings and "homosexual" thoughts and behavior. Other than wiping his memory for several months, and (in his words) removing his ability to feel compassion, the treatments had little effect.

Reed was in a number of bands in his teens and twenties. After moving to New York in 1963, he became one of a stable of in-house song writers for Pickwick Records. When Reed wrote a "dance" song, his employers thought they had a novelty hit on their hands. The label allowed Reed to form a band, The Primitives, record a single and tour.

The Ostrich, which ostensibly is about the new dance, is a weird and droning take on the entire genre of novelty songs. Reed achieved the strange tonalities by tuning all the strings of his guitar to the same note. John Cale, who later formed The Velvet Underground with Reed, joins him on the recording. The last song, Cycle Annie* by The Beachnuts, is an even earlier Lou Reed recording--kind of sounds like a Velvet Underground/Beach Boys mashup. "Annie" in the song is (what else?) a little butch, and makes her man ride on back.

SeeqPod - Playable Search

*original link for Cycle Annie was taken down. You can listen to it on Realplayer (sorry) here. [Link]

No comments: