“Every day is a new adventure here; I’m always glad when it just works out simply.”
Lou Reed was born in Brooklyn, grew up in Long Island, and rose to fame in New York City, first haunting the Lower East Side with the Velvet Underground and then, in later years, as towering over the city’s art scene as mercurial, oft-confrontational solo performer. So when he spoke about NYC, he spoke from the heart.
In many ways, Reed — who died Sunday at the age of 71 — embodied the spirit of the Five Boroughs: he was the outsider individualist in the city that celebrates them the most, stubborn, tough, gritty … and opinionated right until the very end (check his recent review of Kanye West’s Yeezus for proof).
And in 1989, Reed released New York, not just a conceptual album about the city, but a raw return to rock’s roots in an era where the genre couldn’t have been further from them. That critics praised it wasn’t exactly a surprise, but the success of the single “Dirty Blvd” on the Modern Rock Charts certainly was … and, perhaps emboldened by that — or just because he wanted to — Reed decided to take the album to Broadway, performing it in its entirety during a week-long stand at the St. James Theatre.
Before his final show, Reed sat down with MTV News’ Kurt Loder to talk about writing New York, returning to the charts, and the complexities of bringing rock and roll to the Great White Way (“The people here have been very helpful,” he deadpanned). It’s just one of many moments Reed had with the channel over the years — one of the most memorable being his jam with Jack White’s Raconteurs at the 2006 Video Music Awards — and, as we continue to mourn his passing, we’re unveiling a portion of that interview today.
“It’s the consumate New Yorker at one of the city’s most venerable venues, talking about what may very well have been his most personal album. And the place that he always called home.”