This 1987 interview released by PBS two days ago as the latest installment of its marvelous Blank on Blank series, features Lou Reed in perhaps his best interview form—and the man was a notoriously difficult interview. He’s impatient, imperious, cranky, dismissive of others, and sure of his own self-worth, putting down the Beatles and Doors and, frankly, every other musician in the world.
For, you see, the Velvets were out to “elevate the rock & roll song and take it where it hadn’t been taken before.” (Sure, the Beatles didn’t have anything like that on their resume.) In a particularly damning bit, Reed shits on Jim Morrison’s legendary and influential outfit:
From my point of view … the other stuff couldn’t come up to our ankles, not up to my kneecap, not up to my ankles, the level we were on, compared to everybody else. I mean they were just painfully stupid and pretentious, and when they did try to get, in quotes, “arty,” it was worse than stupid rock & roll. What I mean by “stupid,” I mean, like, the Doors.
The Doors were a great band, but anyone who had a Doors-obsessed roommate in college will understand where Reed’s coming from here.
The capper is surely Reed’s audible contempt as he consigns the consensus world’s best rock and roll band to idiot fodder: “I never liked the Beatles. … I thought they were garbage. If you say, ‘Who did you like?’ I liked nobody.”
I’m sure on other occasions Reed showed more respect for the creativity of others, but not on this day…….