A legendary rock musician, and one of the cornerstones of contemporary alt/indie culture, Lou Reed passed away at the end of October. He was an incredibly important artist, and even if he'd never recorded a single solo record, the four albums he made with the Velvet Underground would qualify him as one of music's most original voices.
This week, a video surfaced of the artist's last interview, and, in keeping with the times, it's not an interview by a music publication. Instead, it was done by Parrot Zik, a company that makes "the most advanced headphones." The interviewer and Reed seem a little at odds—early on, he answers questions brusquely:
Why did you do music?
I love it. You do what you love, or you get arrested.
You start to play guitar...
When I was nine.
By yourself? Nine! Your father gave you a guitar?
My father didn't give me shit.
So where did you find the guitar?
You bought it?
But his answers throughout the rest are honest and serious, and despite more or less being turned into a commercial for a headphone brand, it's a really touching interview.
Lou Reed on the importance of bass:
"It's very important—Hip-hop has thunderous bass. And so does Beethoven. If you don't have bass, it's like being amputated. It's like you have no legs. Most headphones, it's like you have no legs. There's only one or two headphones I know where they address—especially in modern music—the bass, the bottom. Because the real trick is how do you tell the difference between the bass drum and the bass. If it all sounds mushy together, that's very bad."
"I just remastered every album I have to take advantage of the new technology. It was so beautiful it made me cry. I am very emotionally affected by sound."
Lou Reed on shifting technologies:
"Usually, in the past, the bass player was the first thing you didn't hear, because with vinyl, a lot of bass would make the needle skip. Then with CDs, the CDs sounded so bad—just horrifying. But with technology now, much much better. And part of the idea is from the 12" vinyl. One song, 12" vinyl. Now you had bass. So how do you do that with a CD? They had to have a better program, better software. And now they do. There is no excuse. I just remastered every album I have to take advantage of the new technology. It was so beautiful it made me cry. I am very emotionally affected by sound. Sound for me is like a dress for you."
It's very moving, and certainly worth reading. It is also quite surreal that you can't help but feel like you're watching a man's last interview on this mortal coil take place in the context of a commercial.
Although ironically, Lou Reed wasn't even praising the headphones in this particular instance, as explained in the YouTube comments:
"A few months ago, I asked Lou Reed for his opinion. He told me that the headphones were well tuned for classical music but not for rock. And he told me he could help. So on September 30th, 2013, I travelled to his studio in New York; it would be the last time I would see him." —Henri Seydoux, CEO of Parrot
This post has not been sponsored by Parrot Zik headphones.