Spectacle: Elvis Costello With...

Season 1 Episode 2

Lou Reed and Julian Schnabel

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Dec 10, 2008 on Sundance Channel
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Episode Summary

Lou Reed joins Elvis for his interview/performance show. Reed, the Velvet Underground legend, discusses music, creativity and all things New York : including music, art and the old days when he was known as the Prince of Darkness. During the show, Reed is joined by Julian Schnabel, an old working buddy. Schnabel reminisces and performs what the Sundance web site describes as "a riveting - and totally spontaneous - spoken-word performance." In addition, Reed joins Elvis and his band for two musical performances.moreless

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  • More musical musings, at a significantly slower speed.

    Lou Reed's laid back verbal style is a sharp contrast to the rapid-fire nearly stream-of-consciousness banter of the voluble Elton John. Reeds tall, lanky frame is also in marked contrast to the rotund E.J. The musical numbers were, once again, well-performed and interesting. The dynamic between old friends Reed and Schnabel was fun to watch. Reed and Costello start with musings from their pre-fame crummy jobs. Once again, the musical references that assume more knowledge than this humble reporter possesses are thick on the ground, but the studio audience ate it up, and seemed to get all the jokes I missed. Hard core music buffs of a certain stripe are sure to be pleased.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • Song List

      Femme Fatale (Velvet Underground-Written by Lou Reed)
      Performed by Elvis Costello and band
      (Larry Campbell, Tony Garnier, Steve Nieve, Jenny Scheinman)

      I'm Waiting for the Man (Velvet Underground-Written by Lou Reed)
      Performed by Elvis Costello and band
      (Larry Campbell, Tony Garnier, Steve Nieve, Jenny Scheinman)

      Perfect Day (Written by Lou Reed)
      Performed by Lou Reed (Vocal), Elvis Costello (Vocal)
      (Kevin Hearn and Steve Nieve on Pianos)

      Set the Twilight Reeling (Written by Lou Reed)
      Performed by Lou Reed (Lead Guitar, Vocal), Elvis Costello (Guitar, Vocal)
      (Kevin Hearn is credited but is neither seen nor heard)

  • QUOTES (8)

    • Elvis: You know, I grew up in England, as you can probably tell, and the songs that I heard growing up gave me the idea that America had many romantic locations. I think the reality was it was probably less glamorous than that. When you were a boy, did you have an imaginary New York that came out of songs and films?
      Reed: My New York came out of radio. I was listening to the radio all the time. (What) I was listening to, around then, would be doo-wop, rockabilly … the New York of Dion. That image, that street-corner sound, that's where that came from.

    • Reed: Out on the Island, I had a little amp and a guitar. And I played it … I learned to play it from the radio or 45's. And since I had it, I was in bands since I was about 14.

    • Elvis: You know, I nearly took a job as an Admiralty chart corrector, and I have the worst handwriting in the world.
      Reed: As a what?
      Elvis: An Admiralty chart corrector, the man who …
      Reed: What is that?
      Elvis: Well, I left school in Liverpool and they send the charts in from the ships, and you have to draw the new obstacles. Well, I'm left-handed, so my handwriting is appalling, so I could have sent thousands of sailors to their doom by smudging a map, you know …

    • Reed: I don't know how I got this job, but … it was a budget label … In those days you could buy an album, 99 cents, vinyl, and it was make-believe groups doing … 14 surfing songs … concepts. So-and-so got popular, they had a car song, three of us were there and we would write car songs. Like "I Got A Tiger In My Tank" … "Cycle Annie," you know. These things … are now available … as bootlegs. There's nothing left sacred or secret, it's amazing.

    • Reed: I didn't grow up in the south. I didn't grow up going through this or that and gospel, church … I don't have that background, I can't make believe I had it. You can't … There's a lot of guys that can, but I can't. I don't have the technique in the first place. So, at the very beginning, like with the Velvets, we would say "No blues licks, okay? You haven't earned the right. We don't have the right to do that. We gotta come up with our own way." And as far as the singing thing, no way I can do Al Green or Otis. Much as in my fantasy head, I would like to …

    • Elvis: I think sometimes people identify songwriters too closely with the characters in their songs because we are actually singing them, we're not at a typewriter. Do you find that has been a problem for you? That people sort of want to assume that you are that person in the song, in every case?
      Reed: They, they don't seem to assume it for the happy songs … They don't say "Oh, hooray." They say "Uh-huh …" Well, it's the old story : Paradise Lost is a lot more famous than Paradise Regained. The other thing is that writing is writing. You know, you're God when you're writing … I forget who said this. He said "However dark it might look …" It's like, look at the end of Hamlet, you want to talk dark. Look … I mean, Othello, look at the end of that. Now I did a thing called Berlin, he's talking about breaking her arm, he kills Desdemona. Everybody's dead at the end of Hamlet. What do you mean, "dark"?

    • Reed: I have my own theory, I think it's because it's … records. And that's why they score movies : it makes emotions happen quicker, and better, and bigger, and faster. And you do it in a song. A three-minute song can reduce you to tears, or make you physically get up and dance. That's really something.

    • Elvis: I feel the same way … getting out of the way of it is often the hardest thing. Stop that thinking, that'll get in the way of a lot of things.
      Reed: Yeah, for me, if I start doing revising, that's the end, I'm finished - it stops the whole thing.
      Elvis: So, are you saying a lot of songs are first drafts and you just …
      Reed: They're all, like, from beginning to end, usually, and I change a couple of words. You know, four words, whatever. I don't dare stop it or it'll go away. "It …" You know, I don't want to sound new age or mystical or anything like that, I'm just saying, whatever it is, I can't conjure it up.

  • NOTES (1)

    • This Week's Musicians

      Larry Campbell (Mandolin/Steel Guitar/Vocal)
      Tony Garnier (Upright Bass)
      Kevin Hearn (Piano)
      Steve Nieve (Piano/Accordion)
      Jenny Scheinman (Fiddle/Violin/Vocal)