Dear Delmore- It has been a very long summer and winter.

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Sheila Klein
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Dear Delmore- It has been a very long summer and winter.

Post by Sheila Klein » 06 Jul 2019 17:30

A friend recently sent me photos of a two-page letter written by Lou Reed in late '64 or early '65 to Delmore Schwartz. It's a remarkable documented, loaded with information, both overt and subtextual, about Lou Reed at that early stage of his life and work. The letter has been published, in the Do Angels Need Haircuts? book and I believe one other source.

What I wonder is whether the text is widely distributed or well-known. If not, I will transcribe it into text form and post the content here.

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schnittstelle
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Re: Dear Delmore- It has been a very long summer and winter.

Post by schnittstelle » 06 Jul 2019 18:26

I don't think it is too well known. At least not by me.

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Mark
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Re: Dear Delmore- It has been a very long summer and winter.

Post by Mark » 06 Jul 2019 21:59

Had no idea of its existence, would love to see it.
Michael Barbiero, J.C. Convertino - no no no! Gary Kellgren, Val Valentin - yes yes yes!

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simonm
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Re: Dear Delmore- It has been a very long summer and winter.

Post by simonm » 07 Jul 2019 11:57

Thanks Phil - I would be curious to read this letter also, if you have time to transcribe it. My impression is that college-era Lou was quite earnest, it would be interesting to read how he relates to Schwartz.

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taxine
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Re: Dear Delmore- It has been a very long summer and winter.

Post by taxine » 07 Jul 2019 14:27

Yeahh,it would be a kinda gift,many thanks Phil. :P
But there are no stars in New York sky, they're all on the ground.
This is the place where she lay her head when she went to bed at night....

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Sheila Klein
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Re: Dear Delmore- It has been a very long summer and winter.

Post by Sheila Klein » 08 Jul 2019 03:28

Here is the text in full, with orthography captured in as close a facsimile as possible. FYI, the other source that has this letter is the official catalogue to The Velvet Underground Experience show: https://hatandbeard.com/products/the-ve ... experience.
Dear Delmore- it has been a very long summer and winter. I got out of school just in time to have hepatitis. it wasn’t a bad case though and after 2 odd months I was out of bed. then I became involved with a record company and worked at a job as a songwriter a performer and a musician. I helped make one of those cheap $1.98 albums that you see in supermarkets. We wrote 33 songs and sang, played and recorded them in 2 days. I commuted from the city to home from home to the city. worked 6-7 days a week from9 or 10 to anywhere from 11 to 3 in the morning not counting my lousy hour trips on the train to get to the studio. My first record came out. It was hysterically funny if you go for that kind of thing. We recruited a group to accompany me on promotional trips. One guy was from Wales. He got here on a Leonard Berstein scholarship, a starving viola player. the other was a violin player from harvard, who helped do the sound track for an “underground” film called Flaming Creatures by a gentleman named Jack Smith. The last showing drew the police of ny who arrested everyone insight, the projectionist, viewers, etc. -said the film was obscene. The third member of my tribe was an m.a. from u.c.l.a. who just had a showing at an art gallery that was a flop. There was trouble with the promo trips the audience loved us quite a lot, autographs, people knew us in a diner and thought we were ENGLISH. But I wasn’t up to it I’m afraid the way I would have been what seems like years ago. I quit my job (after first determining that I could work as long and as well as anyone there). But this bit wasn’t for me. Then (I was still under contacts of various sorts, they possessed 25% of nothing) my manager brought in this guy with lots of money who wanted to buy us instruments (we were one of the few bands in existence that had no instruments, they rented them for us on occasion) and book us in his nightclubs. I said no and quit the group. Meanwhile I had a folk album going for me. They loved me and my stuff but thought the lyrics were offensive (not dirty, just offensive) and would I change the lyrics and I said no and that was that. Interestingly enough a new record just came out which I had a hand in writing which is quite good and might stand a chance. One song of mine is in hollywood, another is in england where a longhaired group is mulling it over, and my manager has dug up some smaller but more liberal (?) folk record companies. Plus the record company I’m affiliated with now is interested in my making another record even though I don’t work there anymore and am not meant for promotion tours. So now I’m getting this job with the welfare department (because you don’t have to dress and its kind of a usefull job- you try to help people with 6 children and rats in one room apartments if that’s possible). Its a kind of ny peace corp with pay.

My harvard application has been sitting for awhile now because I didn’t know if I was ready to go to school anymore, or if i should anymore, at anytime. I was drafted and naturally ruled exempt, unacceptable for the obvious reasons. Thus I am free of the draft and slowly but surely people who depend on me for music or talent or advice or etc. I’ve had some strange experiences since returning to ny, sick but strange and fascinating and even, sometimes ultimately revealing, healing and helpful. The record industry is viscous as are most businesses, but this one a little more so. ny has so many sad, sick people and I have a knack for meeting them. they try to drag you down with them. If you’re weak ny has many outlets. Ican’t resist peering, probing, sometimes participating, othertimes going right to the edge before sidestepping. Finding viscousness in yourself and that fantastic killer urge and worse yet having the opportunity presented before you is certainly interesting, Interesting is not the word. You have to wait a few days to use it, but often you are truely cold. The easy ways of making money, group bravado, the rich johns on park ave who dig watching fornicating couples enough to pay $250, $500, $&700 prices up for group performances of 3 or more or the more esoteric sexual art forms, f*** f*** f***

I feel better myself. I am better. I needed no school. I have let 6 months go by without looking at anything I had written. I needed to be cool - I needed to be away from the writing so that I could look at it more coldly. I finally did that and I decided that I’m very very good and could be a good writer if i work and work. i know thatswhat ive got to do, no getting around it, but things had to get established. Maybe I will go to school again. maybe i’ll teach, maybe europe, who knows. But mainly it must be writing and I think I’m good enough to give it a run for its money. Hope my latest records a smash because I’ll be needing the money to be sure. I’m lucky though. It doesn’t take much of anything that has to do with money to keep me quiet or happy or mollified. Its the peripheral things round you that need bread. You’ll notice my spelling hasn’t improved.

HOW ARE YOU? I mean that, how are you? I hope very much that you are well. I also hope very much that you are my spiritual godfather, and I mean that quite a bit too.

[Lou Reed]

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Re: Dear Delmore- It has been a very long summer and winter.

Post by cubguy23 » 08 Jul 2019 04:03

Thank you for posting!

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Mark
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Re: Dear Delmore- It has been a very long summer and winter.

Post by Mark » 08 Jul 2019 09:08

Wow. Now that's what I call a letter of note. Thanks so much for posting it, and how amazing that it's survived. Is it dated at all? It reads like he's already quit Pickwick so it'd be interesting to know when that was. Do we know who the 'manager' he refers to was?

Wonder if Delmore ever wrote back?
Michael Barbiero, J.C. Convertino - no no no! Gary Kellgren, Val Valentin - yes yes yes!

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simonm
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Re: Dear Delmore- It has been a very long summer and winter.

Post by simonm » 08 Jul 2019 12:30

Amazing letter! Thanks for sharing - lots of interesting stuff there, the first line suggests early spring ‘65 perhaps?

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schnittstelle
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Re: Dear Delmore- It has been a very long summer and winter.

Post by schnittstelle » 09 Jul 2019 07:01

Thank you very much for posting the text!

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