“It’s odd dancing around death, odder still if the death you are dancing around is that of a legend. You just never know what’s appropriate and what’s not, what to share and what to keep inside. There is no blueprint. I loved Lou and we were friends. The last thing I would want to do is turn his life into an opportunity, but at the same time, what better way to honor the man and his music than to celebrate it and sing it and record it?” – Joseph Arthur
This excerpt taken from the liner notes of the upcoming album Lou embodies the spirit in which Arthur set about to record his own interpretations of his favorite Lou Reed songs. Lou, performed, recorded and produced by Joseph Arthur in his home studio, will be released on May 13, 2014 and marks his debut on Vanguard Records. The first single – the classic “Walk on the Wild Side” - premiered today on RollingStone.com. Click here to listen.
Joseph Arthur, the critically acclaimed, Grammy nominated singer-songwriter further explains his thoughts on the journey to record Lou. From the album liner notes:
“The three weeks of touring passed by quickly and suddenly I was home, snowed-in in my studio, holidays approaching, end of tour blues, all coupled with the fact that the day I got back to NYC was the final tribute show for Lou at the Apollo and I went almost without wanting to. I was tired of mourning him and it felt like I was done, but in truth, the real mourning was only just beginning.
Death, like life, works with your resistance and finally it wears you out and breaks you down and then you are too tired to do anything but face it.
I was home alone and there was nowhere to go.
I set up some mics.
A Coles ribbon mic
And a Wunder mic which is a version of a U47 (I used those two mics on the whole record). The ribbon gives it silk and warmth, the Wunder makes it hi-fi.
The first song I tried was “Coney Island Baby.”
And I liked how it came out.
But I also liked getting to hang out with Lou again.
This was the only way to get close.
I did another song and another still.
I made a rule:
No drums or electricity.
Lou was electric.
The only way I know to give new life to something as rich with life as Lou’s songs and recordings is to go about them in a completely different way.
Bill’s (Bentley) advice to just keep it simple and not overthink it kinda acted as my mission statement and in each song, I felt I revealed something new in it.
Making versions, not trying to outdo the originals (impossible), but rather versions that bring out something unheard before.
I felt I was doing that to some degree and I felt guidance in it.
I was saying goodbye. “