A Day of Listening at the Lincoln Center Library

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hkmartin
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A Day of Listening at the Lincoln Center Library

Post by hkmartin » 06 Apr 2019 05:07

I thought I'd start a new thread rather than pile onto the old Lou Reed Archives thread - I hope that's okay.
I spent yesterday in the library at Lincoln Center in New York, listening to the archives.
First of all NO - I did not try to record anything - sorry everyone!

The research room was on the third floor. I really didn't know what to expect. At the third floor, I had to check in my bag and jacket, but I could keep the laptop and the headphones and notebook I had brought with me. I told the librarian I wanted to listen to the Lou Reed recordings. I was a little worried I would have to justify why I was researching Lou Reed, but nothing like that. She had me fill out a short form so I could get a library card. Since I'm not a New York State resident, I could only get a card which lasts for 3 months, but I think it's otherwise a normal New York Public Library card. I needed to show my driver's license for identification. They gave me one of the Lou Reed library cards, and a smaller version for me key chain. I didn't ask for it - I got the feeling that was the only library card they issue at that library.

They would have issued me headphones had I needed them, but no probably for me to use my own. Standard thin headphone jack. It turns out, I needed to use their computers, which they had plenty of. If there was a way for me to get the audio on my laptop, I wasn't able to figure it out. It didn't look to me like anyone else there that day was there to listen to Lou's music - it looked like mostly local graduate student types to me. They had a security guard checking people on their way in and out, but it looked like they were mostly there to prevent things from leaving the library rather than checking for what was brought in. Once I was set up, I was completely left alone.

It was hard to know where to start. I'll give my write ups in order, but I actually skipped around a lot. There were a few things I listened to twice. Of course, I didn't get to listen to everything I would like to listen to. But, as I told my sister-in-law, 6 hours of non-stop Lou is a lot, even for me.

Most of my listening was in the Demos and Rehearsals section. (http://archives.nypl.org/mus/24078#c1552811)

Lou Reed Playing Cover Songs:
I didn’t spend my time here. What I listened to was surprisingly good sound quality. I listed to a couple of the Dylan covers toward the end of the tape. They were pretty straightforward and fine renditions on acoustic guitar, but not very interesting. There were a few bars of a song I didn’t recognize and which was not cataloged. Perhaps an original? Words were “I love you baby, don’t walk out that door”.

Lou Reed and John Cale Demo 1965
This is what we were all waiting for, and it did not disappoint. Unfortunately, sound was not the best and there was a loud hum throughout the first side. This was all acoustic guitar.

Men of Good Fortune – this was not the song we know from Berlin. A totally different song which happens to have the same name as the later Lou Reed song. A Dylanesque folk song.

Heroin – similar to the other early version played at Lou’s memorial event in New York

Put Your Money Down – a folky protest song, though not too sure what Lou was protesting, exactly. “Put your money down on the table. Let’s see if you’re really a man. Put your money down on the table. Stop all your talking and do what you can.”

Buttercup Song or (Never Get Emotionally Involved with Man, Woman Beast or a Child) – this song was silly and fun and the lyrics were pretty weird. It was a story song, but it was a little hard to hear all the lyrics. Sounded like he was making fun of an older poet or something. “Never get emotionally involved with man, woman, beast or a child, with cobblestone streets and subway turnstiles, and by World War Three you’ll have developed style.”

Walk Alone – similar to the version we know

Too Late – I really liked this song, though the second version was better. Doo wop influenced rocker. “It’s too late to be loved by a guy like me”.

Pale Blue Eyes – Cale harmonies on the “linger on”. Different (and inferior) words to the ones we know. Seemed like Lou was pretty angry at the subject of the song at the time. (“Not that I’m complaining. Just sooner see you dead”…) Harmonica solo.

Stockpile – This was a fun song. “Guess I’m gonna have to go and join the Stockpile”.

Buzz Buzz Buzz – A fun, novelty bluesy rocker. “Buzz buzz buzz. Buzz buzz all night long. I went buzz buzz buzz…”

Wrap Your Trouble In Dreams – I never liked this song much to begin with, and this is probably the worst version I’ve heard. I almost didn’t make it to the end. One of them is beating on a box or something very loudly and not keeping time well. Very long.

On side 2, the hum has gone away. There is an unidentified female on the tape who is chatting with Lou and Cale. She sings a little bit of harmonies on some of the songs.

Since all the songs on side 2 appear on side 1, I don’t have more notes on them, except that the second version of Too Late was really exceptional. Probably my favorite of all the listening on that day. The version of Pale Blue Eyes had slightly different lyrics from the one on side one, but was similar. I think it cut off early.
There was a version of Walk Alone on side 2 which was not listed for some reason. There was also an unlisted fragment of “Walking the Dog” – a Rufus Thomas song (I looked it up) which had been covered by the Rolling Stones.

Okay, getting tired for writing. I have some more notes I’ll get to later, but this tape was definitely the highlight. There were a few more goodies in the other tapes though.

Finally, a note that not everything listed was available for listening, unfortunately. You can see that some of the listings don’t have links. I don’t know if that’s because they haven’t gotten to digitizing them yet or because they will never be made public. It was a shame, since I had been really looking forward to the studio stuff for the third album, but no dice. I can’t complain too much, though!

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bradski
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Re: A Day of Listening at the Lincoln Center Library

Post by bradski » 06 Apr 2019 09:41

Nice work. Thanks very much.
any sounds that we feel would detract from the performance has been left in place

Wick Pick
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Re: A Day of Listening at the Lincoln Center Library

Post by Wick Pick » 06 Apr 2019 13:54

Great read! Thank you.

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iaredatsun
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Re: A Day of Listening at the Lincoln Center Library

Post by iaredatsun » 06 Apr 2019 15:23

Thank-you. Very interesting. Looking forward to the final instalment when you have time.

Shame about the studio stuff for '3rd' not being there. Why would they list this and not have it available – unless there is some arrangement with UMG over previously released song material like this, that prevents them making it available? And so, do they plan to release it?
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hkmartin
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Re: A Day of Listening at the Lincoln Center Library

Post by hkmartin » 07 Apr 2019 04:24

One interesting point I missed on the last tape was that, before each song, Lou said “Words and Music by Lou Reed”. Guess he wanted no doubts about that. I didn’t listen to the “Instrumental Jam” all the way through. What I heard sounded like Lou on acoustic guitar and Cale on something like an out-of-tune toy piano.

Work on New Song Called Ondine
I didn’t spend so much time on this one. What I listened to was all solo piano. No vocals. I don’t really remember much about it.

Everyone Knows / Sesnick
This was another good one! This was Lou on piano playing songs he’d apparently just written for Cale for the first time. Lou sounded eager for Cale’s approval. The piano was miked up loud to the point where it was difficult to hear the lyrics. Everyone Knows was a great song. Reminded me a little of Satellite of Love, with maybe a hint of As Tears Go By. This song would have felt at home with a Bowie arrangement on Transformer. This was another highlight!
Right after it was done, Lou said “How do you like it? Want to hear another one?”.
The “other one” was Ride Sally Side, a great, early version. Unrecognizable until the chorus.
Some of the banter I wrote down was: “That would be a very tough rhythm and blues song.” “Did I ever play for you those old 78 records I had?”.
The “piano ideas” sounded pretty good too.
I did not listen to the “Sesnik” side.

Lou Songs
I listed to the two versions of Beginning to see the Light. Both were acoustic demos with Lou on guitar. The first one was a bit folksy, and the second a little bit harder. I didn’t listen to all the rest on the first side.
The other side had an acoustic version of Ocean, which somehow sounded more dark than the versions I know. I listened to a little bit of the jam, which was interesting. Lou on guitar and Cale on viola.

Guitar Piece / Steinway Hall
I tried not to spend my time on things that weren’t music, but “Reed Trashing Moe Tucker” intrigued me. As it turns out, it was just that. I hope he was not being serious. The quote I wrote down was the oddly specific insult “Maureen Tucker is one of the stupidest seven people I know.”
Oh Sweet Mama was a throwaway song, with falsetto singing, possibly Yule? “Oh Sweet Mama” was the only lyric of the song.
I listened to a few minutes of the Noise Jam, and I remember it being kind of interesting – kind of in the vein of the Booker T and other VU jams.
Stephanie Says was only a fragment of an acapella rehearsal. Not too interesting. I didn’t listen to the untitled pieces or the interview.

No John Blues
Instrumental jam I didn’t spend much time with.

Velvet Underground Rehearsal
This had an interesting “hard rock” version of Ocean, with the vocals and drums miked up really loud. Not like any other version I’ve heard. Another highlight.

Acoustic Demos with Female Vocalist
I really wanted to hear this one, but, unfortunately, this one was not available for listening. Nor was any of the studio stuff for the 3rd album

Foggy Notion
This was either very similar to or the same as the familiar take

Who Love the Sun / Head Held High
Same as the familiar takes. Possible slightly different mix.

Loaded Studio Mixes
Unavailable for listening

Loaded Outtakes
I didn’t spend too much time here. To be honest. I haven’t spent tons of time with the officially released Loaded outtakes on Fully Loaded and PSAS. The tracks I did listen too did not sound much different from what is already available and I can't swear that it's not already available.

Velvet Underground Live Recording circa 1969-1970
This was a weird tape. Definitely not from a single show. I skipped through this. A lot of it was sung by someone I’m not familiar with! (i.e. not Lou, Cale or Doug). I’m not too familiar with post-Lou VU. I guess maybe it was Willie Alexander? Deep, rough voice. Heroin and Venus in Furs were Cale singing. What Goes On was Lou singing – the same live version with the crazed guitar solo which was bootlegged and which finally showed up on PSAS - Cleveland? Can't remember.

That’s it for my Velvet Underground listening. Later on, I’ll post from the Lou solo stuff I listened to.

If you find yourself in the library with limited time, go for Lou Reed and John Cale demos first and then Everyone Knows. The two versions of Ocean are well worth a listen too.

(I have no idea why some stuff was not available for listening nor if anything is planned for release)

Wick Pick
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Re: A Day of Listening at the Lincoln Center Library

Post by Wick Pick » 07 Apr 2019 05:54

Funny, I'm just listening to the live version of Foggy Notion from December 12, 1968 now as I'm reading this and Lou sings "Sally Mae, ride ride ride". I don't his he does that on any other version.

Are there any other songs in the 'Everyone Knows' section? Unnamed songs or anything?

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lurid
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Re: A Day of Listening at the Lincoln Center Library

Post by lurid » 07 Apr 2019 09:42

Thanks a lot for your notes. Very interesting!

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iaredatsun
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Re: A Day of Listening at the Lincoln Center Library

Post by iaredatsun » 07 Apr 2019 12:11

Thanks for the second instalment and the detailed descriptions.

Seems to me that there is a whole section of the VU history (66 to mid-68) missing from the archive, including the Cale July Studio tape. This means we don't have the demo tape the band sent to the UK. Odd that there Ludlow/Borom str demos are not there for example which suggest there could be other tapes missing. It also means we don't have any other live tapes of the VU from that era.

I can only think that Lou gave his whole VU archive to UMG. And that means we may never know what's in there.

One idea I thought of is - if you can plug your own headphones in for listening, then the material can be recorded onto a laptop.
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hkmartin
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Re: A Day of Listening at the Lincoln Center Library

Post by hkmartin » 07 Apr 2019 13:26

Are there any other songs in the 'Everyone Knows' section? Unnamed songs or anything?
I don't think I listened all the way to the end of the tape. It's definitely possible I missed a hidden gem or two, but I'd say not very likely. The part of the "piano idea" I listened to I remember being pretty cool. 6 hours might sound like a long time, but I had to pick my battles. At least for me, it was not a hard decision to only give a cursory listen to anything without vocals. Whenever I go back, I would like to give this one a full listen.

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Re: A Day of Listening at the Lincoln Center Library

Post by threechordwonder » 07 Apr 2019 13:55

Many thanks for all your hard work and thoughts and notes. I'm particularly grateful for the info on Pale Blue Eyes, I was wondering if the lyrics matched either the 3rd album or La Cave versions, and now it seems they do not. At last I can sleep again ...

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