Lou Reed explains why The Beatles were “garbage” in rare interview
We’re dipping into the Far Out vaults to look back at Lou Reed and his wickedly sharp tongue. In this interview, the singer lashes out at The Beatles and explains why the biggest band on the planet was, according to him, nothing better than “garbage”.
As part of the Blank on Blank project, which sees the production company take the famed interviews of some of rock and roll’s most illustrious names and turn them into animated form, the group have now had their way with a very special Lou Reed interview.
As part of the Velvet Underground, one of the most iconic bands of New York’s history, Reed has garnered himself a legendary status for writing his highly intelligent yet profoundly connective rock and roll. In the interview, he shares his views on what Velvet Underground’s primary goals were and offers a rather cutting appraisal of The Beatles.
In the animation, which offers (somehow) a really accurate portrayal of the genius alt-pop man in all his caricatural joy, the ‘Perfect Day’ singer is talking with Joe Smith in the recording and isn’t afraid to put out his stall in the 1987 interview. Hit with the question “do you wish you (the VU) weren’t so left-leaning?” to which Reed quickly replies succinctly: “No. I started out with that in mind”
Then he starts to dig deeper on Reed and The Velvet Underground, a tumultuous subject at the best of times. Reed offers up a quick portrait of his early life as a writer and “wanting to write the Great American Novel” and his journey into the ‘bar band’ world. When asked what the goals for the VU were Reed replies, “to elevate the rock n’ roll song, to take it where it hadn’t been taken before.” And in his opinion, and many others’, they did just that.
In the clip, Reed also takes aim at those who had the Velvet Underground in their crosshairs. He quite rightly points out that while the press was losing their minds about the content of songs like ‘Venus in Furs’ Reed had lifted most of its contents from a book of the same name. To him, it seemed ludicrous that literature should have special dispensation over music.
He also talks about the band’s ode to opium ‘Heroin’, he said” “I write a song called ‘Heroin’ and it’s like I murdered the Pope or something.” Reed continues, “I just wanted to cram everything into a record that these people had ignored. Which, ya know, left you with everything”.
While keen to point out The Velvet Underground’s purpose as a rock and roll outfit but he was equally as quick to point out artists who didn’t have such an impact. “The other stuff couldn’t even come up to our ankles the level we were on.”
The Doors are the first band mentioned in the clip, which Reed, gnarly and gravel-toned, describes as “stupid” then it’s on to the biggest band of all time, The Beatles. What did Reed think of them? “Garbage”. In the full interview, which you can hear here, the singer goes on to trash quite a lot of his contemporaries including The Doors and is therefore entirely worth a listen.
But for now, watch this animated clip of the 1987 interview of Lou Reed below.