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Patti Smith: 'Lou Reed Was a Very Special Poet'

Smith tells David Fricke that Reed's live process was a 'revelation'

Patti Smith and Lou Reed.
Richard E. Aaron/Redferns
October 28, 2013 5:25 PM ET

Over the last 24 hours, there's been an outpouring of tributes to rock pioneer Lou Reed, who passed away on Sunday at age 71. Today, David Byrne shared a memory of his time with Reed during his band's early days. Punk rock icon Patti Smith, who ran with Reed in the same downtown New York City scenes in the Seventies, spoke to Rolling Stone's David Fricke about his passing — and specifically how he still inspires her live performances:    

Look Back at Lou Reed's Incredible Life in Photos

Lou was a very special poet – a New York writer in the way that Walt Whitman was a New York poet. One thing I got from Lou, that never went away, was the process of performing live over a beat, improvising poetry, how he moved over three chords for 14 minutes. That was a revelation to me.

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

More Song Stories entries »
 
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