Public Library in New York announced the latter’s acquisition of Reed’s complete personal archive. It includes 300 linear feet of correspondence, business papers and photographs; more than 600 hours of concert, studio, demo and interview tapes; 1,300 video recordings; and extensive personal memorabilia, including his LP collection.
Laurie Anderson discusses some of the many treasures found in Lou Reed’s new NYC archive, which contains hundreds of hours of recordings.
“He trusted tape,” Reed’s wife, the artist Laurie Anderson, says as she listens to that recording in her lower-Manhattan studio. “Lou wrote in his head,” Anderson goes on, her voice soft with awe, as “Some Kinda Love” and “Candy Says” from that ’74 tape play in the background. “That was the weirdest thing. He could just wake up, and the song was done. But he had been putting it together over a period, with little phrases.” She cites a lyric from Reed’s 1996 album, Set the Twilight Reeling: “Light glances off the blue glass we set/Right before the window.” “I would go, ‘Oh, he said that two weeks ago.’ You could hear it being routed to a song somehow.”
Among the many highlights revealed during an exclusive preview for Rolling Stone a week before the announcement: an original cassette from Reed’s last night onstage with the Velvets in August 1970 at Max’s Kansas City in New York; memos from RCA Records detailing David Bowie’s role – and payment – as Reed’s producer on Transformer; a personal phone book with listings for Allen Ginsberg, Peter Gabriel, Brian Eno and favorite restaurants on the road; and detailed itineraries and receipts from Reed’s notoriously confrontational mid-and-late Seventies tours. One five-inch reel of tape from May 1965 in an unopened package, is thought to be the Velvets’ earliest demo, made at Pickwick Records where Reed was then employed as a staff songwriter.
The archive will be accessible to the general public as well as scholars and researchers. A selection of material is on display through March 20th at Lincoln Center and at NYPL’s main building on Fifth Avenue. The Library is also hosting a free, live performance on March 13th of Reed’s 2003 concept album, The Raven, curated by his producer Hal Willner at Lincoln Center, and a presentation of Reed’s guitar-feedback installation, Drones, at the Fifth Avenue branch on March 15th.