Gary Flockhart: Lou Reed let music do the talking

Lou Reed. Pic: Comp
Lou Reed. Pic: Comp
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YOU get to interview a lot of big stars in this job. Sometimes they’re larger than life and sometimes they’re duller than dishwater. Sometimes they dig out stories from the vaults that hold you rapt for hours and sometimes they have nothing to say at all.

I reckon Lou Reed would have been one of the entertaining ones. Sadly, I’ll never know for sure after the former Velvet Underground frontman died on Sunday, aged 71.

So I never got the chance, but I came closer than most to a one-on-one with the songwriter and poet who penned such classics as Walk On The Wild Side and Perfect Day.

Back in March of 2008, I found myself in New York City, having flown over to interview Reed about his visit to the Playhouse later that year.

No doubt there are tougher jobs than being sent to the Big Apple to interview a rock god – but that doesn’t mean I was expecting an easy ride.

After all, Reed’s reputation as rock’s most aggressive interviewee was as storied as the songs themselves.

Before heading to NYC, his press man briefed me as to what I could and couldn’t ask the man who helped shape the music industry.

“You can’t ask him to explain lyrics,” he said. “Don’t question him about the Velvet Underground. Don’t talk about [former mentor] Andy Warhol. Nor about his private life.”

Not that it mattered that I couldn’t talk to him about much other than his upcoming tour, for it soon became clear that Reed couldn’t be bothered doing the interview after all.

The upshot? Having gone to Manhattan to meet the most cantankerous codger in rock, only to be stood up, four days in a row, I swore I’d never listen to the Velvets’ I’m Waiting For The Man again.

Not that I hold any grudges now the great man is gone. Lou Reed was a singular, unique talent. That we will never see anyone like him again is no overstatement.