Lou Reed wrote an essay for Aspen no.3 – the Pop-Art issue that Andy Warhol edited, in 1966 – some months before the appearance of The Velvet Underground's first album. Reed's sentences are of their time. The aesthetic, already in place, is light years ahead.
Repetition is so fantastic, anti-glop... Listening to a dial tone in B♭, until American Tel & Tel messed and turned it into a mediocre whistle, was fine. Short waves minus an antenna give off various noises, band wave pops and drones, hums that can be tuned at will and which are very beautiful. Eastern music is allowed to have repetition. That's OK for glops with strawhats and dulcimers between their blue legs... they don't listen to it, or see it, but they sanction it. Andy Warhol's movies are so repetitious sometimes, so so beautiful. Probably the only interesting films made in the US are Rock-and-Roll films. Reducing things to their final joke. Which is so pretty.
Earlier this week, three of the Velvet Underground's surviving members gathered for a moderated panel discussion at the main branch of the New York Public Library. The band's fans formed a long and winding queue along the building's stairs; Andy Warhol's amanuensis, Billy Name, who looks a bit like Santa Claus now, held court at the head of the line. To passers-by, it must have looked like Christmas on 42nd Street. The occasion itself was a bit of a miracle: For one thing, the moderator was a journalist – and anyone with opposable thumbs can tell you that Lou Reed, who doesn't care for journalists, takes evident pleasure in his venomous and/or monosyllabic replies to their questions. (‘Journalists are morons, idiots,' he's said. 'You can hit them, stab them, kick them in the shins, abuse them and outrage them and they won't even notice.' Click here and here to compare Reed's style, as an interview subject, to Warhol's.)