Revisit Lou Reed’s 1992 cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Foot of Pride’ in tribute to the icon
In 1992, there was only one ticket floating around the New York City streets that everybody wanted, yet nobody could get. It was a ticket to pay tribute to Bob Dylan, so named by the great Neil Young as, Bobfest. Amongst a host of incredible acts, Lou Reed—founding member of the Velvet Underground—was on the bill to perform.
The event was held at Madison Square Garden and was put on to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Dylan’s first-ever record release on Columbia Records. The ginormous stage was set and the list of artists willing to get under the spotlight and perform a cover of their favourite Dylan songs was bigger than most festivals.
When we say there was a big roster of incredible performers, we really do mean it. The event saw a host of acts including Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, Roger McGuinn, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Stevie Wonder, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Ron Wood, Chrissie Hynde, The O’Jays, Eddie Vedder, Sinéad O’Connor, Tracy Chapman, George Harrison and, of course, Lou Reed.
While others took on the more notable moments of Dylan’s incredibly lengthy discography, Reed, ever the non-conforming artist, chose to do something a little bit different. He chose to perform one of Dylan’s bootleg tracks, ‘Foot of Pride’.
The song was originally an outtake from the Infidels sessions but has been widely loved by his fans ever since. As with most Dylan albums, demos and outtakes from Infidels were quickly bootlegged but ‘Foot of Pride’ did eventually make it on to record, released on The Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3. It’s one of those tracks that separates fair-weather fans from diehards and put Reed firmly in the latter’s camp.
Reed said of the song and performance, “That’s the song I picked to do at Bobfest (in New York in 1992). I’d been listening to it almost every day for two months.” Reed continues to think on the song, “It’s so fucking funny: ‘Did he make it to the top? Well, he probably did and dropped.’ There are so many verses, it was impossible to learn. G.E. Smith [ who was part of the band that night], who was playing with me, turned the pages. There is a lot of anger here. It’s not the Three Stooges.”
He’s not wrong. The song’s subject matter could only have been approached by Reed in this circumstance. He does so in the clip below with the same confidence and aplomb that he does his own music, assured in the knowledge that he would always provide light to the darkest parts of the art. In this footage below we see that process in motion.
Watch as Lou Reed performs a cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Pride of Foot’ as part of the 1992 event ‘Bobfest’.