SXSW: Lou Reed's Colorado River Wind Meditations

That's the story of my life.

AUSTIN - The keynote address for this year's South by Southwest conference was given today by Lou Reed, so of course I went. I mean, "Sister Ray." What else do you need to say? It wasn't a speech but instead an interview conducted by Hal Wilner, a record producer and an old acquaintance of Reed's. Let's just say that Hal is unlikely to get his own talk show anytime soon. The occasionally interesting, always awkward hour kept making me think of that Delicious Dish skit from "Saturday Night Live." With a bit of "The Chris Farley Show" sprinkled in.

"You remember Beatlemania where those four guys went on stage and they looked like you and they played Beatles songs? ... That was awesome!"

OK, maybe it wasn't quite that bad but each time Reed finished a response, Wilner waited a good four or five seconds to make sure Lou was done before continuing. Reed was as crotchety as you might expect, with the usual laundry list of complaints about the current state of music. MP3s are killing sound quality and the artists who make albums ("the technology is making it easier for us to make things bad"); major labels are more evil than ever, etc. Not that he's disillusioned by all new music, as he listed some current faves, even if he wasn't quite right with names. (He thought Holy, um, Funk was Holy, um, Ship and said Jane as Policewoman instead of Joan.)

His career recollections were entertaining, as he spoke about all of his "career-killing" albums that resulted in labels introducing a "Lou Reed Clause" in contracts to ensure that bands didn't sabotage themselves. But perhaps the weirdest moment was when he said that one of his favorite movies of all-time was "The Bourne Ultimatum."

By David Malitz |  March 13, 2008; 3:28 PM ET SXSW
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Great post and I loved the ending. A little bit o irony.

SXSW is becoming the place for bands look for booking agents who will put them into live shows. That is the future music on-line (myspace, iTunes, radio, etc.) to get you to live concerts to balance loss of sales.

Posted by: NYC | March 13, 2008 4:21 PM

is lou also scheduled to play in austin or is it part of his spoken word tour?

Posted by: jim | March 13, 2008 10:10 PM

Lou is playing the 9:30 on April 22

Posted by: Yes, I am Better than You | March 14, 2008 5:27 PM

Hal Wilner - The only way I recognize the name is that he produced the incredibly eclectic TV show, Night Music, featuring David Sanborn. For that alone he is a god in my eyes. And Producer David, you would do well to try to find some of that stuff on video, or You Tube.

Those shows are what preceded a lot of the bands you are seeing in Austin, and included some of them. Somehow it reminds me of the Edmond BUrke saying: Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it.

It's a crime we don't have more shows like Night Music. Jools Holland was on that show, and he's doing it on BBC, but that's about it.

But WikiPedia says this:

Hal Willner (born 1957, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an American music producer working in recording, films, TV and live events. He is best known for assembling tribute albums and events featuring a wide variety of artists and musical styles (jazz, classical, rock, Tin Pan Alley).

In the 1970s he worked under record producer Joel Dorn. Willner is often credited as the inventor of the 'modern' tribute album with Amarcord Nino Rota in 1981. He became music supervisor of Saturday Night Live in 1981, a position which he has continued to hold. He was also a producer of the TV program Night Music hosted by David Sanborn.

Willner has also produced albums for Marianne Faithfull, Lou Reed, Bill Frisell, William S. Burroughs, Gavin Friday, Lucinda Williams and Allen Ginsberg, among others. He produced a live tribute concert to Tim Buckley, that ultimately launched the career of Tim's son Jeff. He has released one album under his own name: Whoops, I'm an Indian, which featured audio samples from 78 rpm records from the early-mid 20th century.

Posted by: Hal Wilner PR | March 15, 2008 11:48 AM

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