Lou Reed's Guide to New York City

Nikolai36 via WikiMedia Commons
Lou Reed, Your Most Honest Tour Guide for Almost 50 Years

If there's one common sentiment shared by all the Lou Reed tributes that have sprung up in the past few dats, it's how Reed's music felt like the sound of New York. Whether the subject matter, the ambiance or outright namedropping geography, his almost 50 years of output chronicled and reflected an ever-changing city that he loved, or that at least loved him back enough to inspire him. When I first moved to New York nine years ago, I used Reed's referencing of different locations to aid my own navigation around the city. It is with the cathartic chance to walk his streets once more that we proudly bring you Lou Reed's Guide to New York City.

See also: The Voice's 1989 Review of Lou Reed's New York

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One Night Only: The Velvet Underground Pay Tribute to Nico and Allen Ginsberg

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Tonight, fans of the Velvet Underground will get to see their idols pay tribute to two of their most revered friends and collaborators--just not on the same stage. At Housing Works, Lou Reed will be celebrating the vinyl and digital re-issue of Allen Ginsberg's FIRST BLUES. Across the East River, John Cale will be kicking off his three-night run at the Brooklyn Academy of Music with a sold-out tribute to Nico, which will also feature Sharon Van Etten, the Magnetic Fields, and Kim Gordon, among others. Torn on which show you'll hit later? Here's a brief preview of each, along with a few educated guesses as to which songs you'll get to hear Reed and Cale wax poetic on this evening.
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Patti Smith (11) Battles Lou Reed And The Velvet Underground (3) For Downtown Supremacy

Sound of the City's search for the quintessential New York City musician enters Round Two this week, with battles in the Round of 32 daily. Keep up with all the action here.


Last time around Patti Smith showed John Zorn who has the power, and Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground got all "Venus In Furs" on Stephin Merritt. But when Smith takes on Reed and company, which iconic downtown punk innovator will survive?

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Lou Reed And The Velvet Underground (3) Match Wits With The Magnetic Fields (14) In SOTC's March Madness

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​The Round of 64 for Sound of the City's own version of March Madness—in which you, the Sound of the City voting public, help determine the quintessential New York musician—is a little jam-packed today. (The schedule and results so far are here; the full, updated bracket is here.) Here, we return Downtown for a battle of the frontmen, as Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground match up against Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields. Check out the arguments in favor of each below, and vote at Facebook for your favorite.

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Live: Das Racist, Rahzel, Laurie Anderson And Many Others Play Philip Glass's Tibet House Benefit At Carnegie Hall

Philip Glass and Friends Tibet House U.S. Benefit w/Laurie Anderson, Tim Fain, Das Racist, Antony, Lou Reed, Stephin Merritt, and Rahzel
Carnegie Hall
Monday, February 13

Better than: Seeing how most ethnic Tibetans live.

Last night's all-star benefit at Carnegie Hall began with a performance by eight unnamed monks from the Drepung Monestary, who entered the hall in silence. The saffron-robed throat singers (each of whom wore a striking orange headpiece reminiscent of a Roman centurion's) took the stage like religious royalty being received by devoted followers. They used microphones that were hardly necessary; their throaty chants sounded like (and carried as strongly as) didgeridoos throughout the hall. It was a pretty surprising and impressive thing to look around the dress circle in Carnegie Hall and see dozens of people with their eyes closed and their hands folded in silent prayer.

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Pazz & Jop 2011: Brad Nelson On Why Lou Reed And Metallica's Lulu Was 2011's Best Album

To supplement this year's Pazz & Jop launch, Sound of the City asked a few critics to expand on the reasonings behind their voting. Here, Brad Nelson talks about the much-discussed collaboration between Lou Reed and Metallica, Lulu, which topped his ballot and came in at No. 94 on the albums poll.

In the video we see the four members of Metallica, in autonomous cars, approaching a warehouse in the Bay Area, where (this is the only real narrative to take from the video) Lou Reed is waiting. Lou approaches nothing; he has always been there, in front of a microphone, phasing out of shape. There is not much light but the few spotlights amplify beyond their scope, drawing implications into the face of Lars Ulrich, whose mouth diagonally frames his teeth, always, and the whole skull of James Hetfield, newly dynamic with mohawk. Kirk Hammett's guitar looks changed in the light, full of grain. They play. They play a lumbering riff, it seems pulled from a subspace. Gravity acts gently there, woozily. Lou speaks, barks, commanding something from afar. They all start to phase, faces play upon faces. Their images shake into each other, confuse features. They are completely fused in spirit. Lou rubs his eyes. Rob Truijillo tosses his long, weighty hair into glossy octagons of light.

This is the Darren Aronofsky-directed video for "The View," the ostensible single from the recorded exchange between Lou Reed and Metallica called Lulu. People treated Lulu supernaturally when news of it first appeared; when it was released it was the absurd, unapproachable record of the year, roundly panned, roundly existentially questioned. In the Quietus, Julian Marszalek wrote, "We have but a short period on this earth." It could not sustain Lulu, the indulgence of five men who had advanced into a totally sealed-off sphere. How much of what they did was metal? How much of it followed the track of the Velvet Underground, into an unforming rock? Most declared neither, that Lulu sounded as if two incomplete records had grafted intemperately to each other. I don't even totally have the words to process it now, even as it tops my Pazz and Jop ballot.

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Underwhelmed And Overstimulated, Part IV: The Joys Of Nicola Roberts And The Problem With Odd Future

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Nicola Roberts, having herself a lucky day with the Village Voice.
Sound of the City's year-end roundtable, with contributions from Tom Ewing, Eric Harvey, Maura Johnston, Nick Murray, and Katherine St. Asaph, continues. Follow along here.

Hey all. Again, thanks to Maura for putting this together, and thanks to Katherine for not only writing another outstanding recap of 2011 but also handing off to me no less topics than Bon Iver, PBR&B, K-Pop, all hip-hop, the cloud, and trollgaze. Where should I start?

Not with trollgaze, but we'll get there, for better or for worse. How about Nicola Roberts? I completely agree with you on that record, Tom, and I know from conversation that Maura and Katherine do too. (Eric?) I'd imagine that my experience with it was pretty common: Blown away by the singles, and by the fact that Cinderella's Eyes was almost a Girls Aloud album, it took me a while to allow it to develop into much more than that. I still enjoyed it plenty—amid the worst year for music ever, how could you not?—but not as much as I did once I started paying closer attention to its latter half.

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Lou Reed And Metallica And Darren Aronofsky Make A Video

Last month lots of ink and pixels were spent on Lulu, the collaboration between downtown bard Lou Reed and thrash lifers Metallica—"worst album of the year or maybe ever" declarations; "you just don't understand what Lou is trying to do" cries from partisans/people suspicious of the unwashed's lack of knowledge about the Frank Wedekind plays the album was based on; head-scratching so fervent it resulted in bleeding. But for all that hue and cry and Internet arguing, the thing didn't make much of a dent sales-wise; it debuted on the Billboard 200 at No. 36, selling 13,000 copies in its first week, and then nosedived off the chart in week two. Blame the leak, which came a couple of weeks before the album's bow in stores, or blame the bad buzz, or blame the economy—but don't blame a weak promotional campaign: Despite the soft launch, a video by a big-name director—Requiem For A Dream/Black Swan helmsman Darren Aronofsky—debuted over the weekend. It's for the 3:45 single edit (work with me here; the full track's 5:18!) of "The View," and it starts off as your pretty standard black-and-white "guys rehearsing" clip (complete with people getting out of their cars), then gets hazier as the murk of metal and back-and-forth shouts by Reed and Metallica frontman James Hetfield intensifies. And of course, it ends with Reed being thrilled by the brilliance that has just ensued. Clip below.

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Lulu: Lou Reed, Metallica, And The Sound Of Comment Sections Howling In Protest

The ever-evolving microgenre of "trollgaze" isn't just limited to whippersnapper up-and-comers. Today we look at one of this week's most chattered-about albums, the Metallica/Lou Reed collaboration Lulu, to try and deduce one thing: Can a 90-minute double album based off German Expressionist theater and performed by a bunch of dudes who decided they really, really liked each other after jamming in honor of the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame actually be an Internet con? Sound of the City's highly mathematical analysis, below.

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Regurgitating Prisms, Deepening Curtsies: Which Lyrics Are Really From Lulu?

Compiled by Matt Ealer, Josh Gallaway, and Brad Nelson

Anton Corbijin
Lulu, the unearthly result of a collaboration between Lou Reed and Metallica, is composed of slow, meditative, minimal riffs and sometimes snaking, ambient horror over which Reed, in a sort of drained yet bold drawl—as if working around the idea of the music—articulates graphic, surreal and vaporous images of Lulu (of the Frank Wedekind plays Earth Spirit and Pandora's Box) and her worshipers. A triumph of lazy spiral-bound nihilism, the style is relatively easy to inhabit (brazenly sexual, casually racist, occasionally disregarding how words work), and so we've assembled several fake rhymes and strewn them about real live lyrics from this impossible record. Can you tell the difference?

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