On September 21st, Lou Reed sat down for his final interview and explained his personal relationship with sound: “Sound is more than just noise. Ordered sound is music,” he said. “My life is music.”
The conversation Reed shared with director Farida Khelfa was part of a photo shoot for Parrot — Reed had offered his sonic expertise to the company, adjusting the balance of the Parrot Zik headphones so they’d be better suited for rock. In the quite significant footage from that day just a month before his death at age 71, Reed appears gaunt, but his mind remains razor sharp. Explaining why he became a musician, Reed said, “You do what you love. . . or you get arrested.” Asked if his father bought him his first guitar, Reed spat back, “My father didn’t give me shit.”
But when the conversation shifted to Reed’s ears, he turned immediately poetic. “I know the way I like things to sound,” he explained. “I wouldn’t want to hear Beethoven without beautiful bass, the cellos, the tuba. It’s very important. Hip-hop has thunderous bass. And so does Beethoven. If you don’t have the bass, it’s like being amputated. It’s like you have no legs.”
After complaining briefly about the “horrifying” sound on CDs, Reed said he’d recently revisited his entire catalog to improve his records’ sonic profiles. “I just remastered every album I have to take advantage of the new technology. And it was so beautiful it made me cry,” he admitted. “I am very emotionally affected by sound. Sounds are the inexplicable. . .There is a sound you hear in your head, it’s your nerves, or your blood running. It’s kind of amazing to hear that.”
Asked about his first memory of sound, Reed said all of us share the same experience. “The first memory of sound would have to be your mother’s heartbeat, for all of us,” he said. “You grow up, from when you’re a peanut, listening to rhythm.
“But then there are nature sounds. . . The sound of the wind. The sound of love.”
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To see a longer cut of Parrot Zik’s Lou Reed interview, click here.