Velvet Underground at the NYPL

by Laurie Henzel

A few weeks ago a friend told me about a Velvet Underground reunion at the New York Public Library on Dec. 8th. Now when you say a band is having a reunion, the first thing that everyone thinks is “show!” And that’s what several of us thought, judging by this somewhat confusing listing, but it was actually a talk with Lou Reed, Maureen Tucker and Doug Yule, hosted by David Fricke, long time writer for Rolling Stone. Luckily it turned out to be more interesting anyway. I’m a humongo fan, so this was pretty exciting for me.

            Mostly it was Lou and Mo reminiscing about the early days (mid 60’s in NYC) , and about Andy Warhol during the years that he managed and produced the Velvets. They were clearly very fond of him and credited him as launching their careers. Lou did many spot on imitations of Andy “…I don’t know Lou, what do you think?” and remembered that in the producing chair, his main message was “don’t change a thing, do what you do” which is the ultimate gift a good producer can give to a great and talented, experimental band.

            Lou still comes of as an anti-establishment, sarcastic and a bit of a curmudgeonly artist, which in his New York accent is kind of perfect, some choice quotes:

“I’ve always hated business people”

 “They’re stupid.” – regarding record industry folks

 “A moron” – regarding a writer for the Daily News

And many eye rolling and snide remarks about Rolling Stone (Fricke wriggled out of it by claiming he was in high school when the bad reviews of the velvets were written) Ha! I’ve never been a fan of RS, so this was particularly fun for me.

            Mo on the other hand, was completely adorable and sweet, I just love her! They told a funny story of when Andy asked her to type up some dialogue for something involving Ondine. Mo refused to type the ‘dirty” words, as she was clearly a good girl and was embarrassed by them. Andy suggested she just type the first letter of the “icky” words, and she did just that. Both Doug Yule and Lou praised her primitive drumming style as being one of the secret weapons of the band, and she was cute when describing her style, and lack of formal training. “ I didn’t know how to do a roll, thank god, because once you know how to do that, you can’t resist.”

            So even tho the “reunion” was not officially that, it was great to see a few of our idols talking candidly about one of the most influential bands ever. The event was organized around a new book out now called The Velvet Underground New York Art

Edited by Johan Kugelberg, Contribution by Vaclav Havel, Maureen Tucker and Jon Savage, Foreword by Lou Reed, published by Rizzoli


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