Lou Reed on Guns & Ammo | Blank on Blank


«I write a song called ‘Heroin’, you would have thought that I murdered the Pope or something»
— Lou Reed on March 20, 1987, as told to Joe Smith

Lou Reed. Lou Reed. Here we bring you a rarely heard interview Lou recored in 1987. It’s vintage Lou. Salty and sweet. Earnest and cocky. Grouchy and kind of endearing. Reed (and his legendary band The Velvet Underground) were those musicians who never got the extensive accolades or awards—nor the riches many of their contemporaries found. Yet he never seemed to waver in his search for the perfect sound and his quest «to elevate the rock and roll song and take it where it hadn’t been taken before.» Here we present some interview outtakes that give a taste for this iconic American musician. Lou Reed died of liver disease on October 27, 2013. He was 71.

In this animated film Lou Reed talks about chasing off nosy college kids on his porch with his shotgun, how he dreamed about writing the great American novel while at Syracuse University, «how savage the reaction against» the Velvet Underground was, the intention of taking books and putting them into songs, writing rock and roll you could grow old with, not thinking The Doors or the Beatles were up to the level of his band, and how he hoped to elevate the rock and roll song to where it hadn’t been before.

RIP, Lou.


«What we had was ambition and a goal … to elevate the rock and roll song and take it where it hadn’t been taken before.»
«I have faith in my own vision, and didn’t want them to tamper with it.»
«Don’t thin my voice out and make it like that high shit. This is the way I sound.»
» I’ve gone out with my shotgun. This is hunting country out there. You better run.»
«I wanted to write the great American novel but I also loved rock and roll.»
«I got a little puzzled at how savage the reaction against us was.»

Hear the full, unedited interview, learn more about Lou Reed including a pic of his college band, and see some sweet Lou Reed GIFs @

Subscribe for new episodes every other Tuesday (it’s free):

Executive Producer: David Gerlach
Animator: Patrick Smith
Audio Producer: Amy Drozdowska

Watch our previous episodes:

BB King on The Blues

Elliott Smith on Freaks

Robin Williams on Masks

Wayne Coyne on Living with Death

Maya Angelou on Con Men

Bette Davis on The Sexes

Michael Jackson on Godliness

Jimi Hendrix on The Experience

Meryl Streep on Beauty

Philip Seymour Hoffman on Happiness

David Bowie on Stardust

Gene Wilder on The Truth

John Lennon on Love

Johnny Cash on The Gospel

Heath Ledger on Role Playing

Tupac on Life and Death

Kurt Cobain on Identity

Janis Joplin on Rejection

Barry White on Making Love

Maurice Sendak on Being a Kid

Carol Burnett on Finding Home

Grace Kelly on JFK

Farrah Fawcett on Stiletto Power

Beastie Boys on Being Stupid

David Foster Wallace on Ambition

Wilt Chamberlain on Tall Tales

Larry King on Getting Seduced

Jim Morrison on Why Fat is Beautiful

«Venus in Furs»
«Rock and Roll»
«Perfect Day»


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  1. Mike Yerke

    I hate NPR.

  2. Dracula Says I Have Great Taste

    This is what I think he meant about writing lyrics for adults about adult issues.
    This is from a Lou Reed song about his friend's battle with cancer using chemotherapy.

    "The same power that burned Hiroshima
    causing three legged babies and death
    Shrunk to the size of a nickel
    to help him regain his breath"

  3. J.D. Gibaurd

    Come on now, people.  If you know anything about Lou Reed, you know that he never says anything good about anyone. He will say that loves rock and roll, but he will never admit to actually liking anyone who plays it—not even the Beatles.  If you watch enough of his video interviews on Youtube, you will realize he really enjoys being an asshole and upsetting the poor schmuck journalist who's just trying to do a job, and he rarely, if ever, gives a straight answer.  All that said, he's also one of the most brilliant songwriters rock and roll ever produced, and that's all that really matters about him.

  4. Uber Laufer

    Saying Beatles are garbage is like saying the first computer is garbage, maybe it is in your opinion, but because of it you can have one now.

  5. Mark Lecuona

    I don't know if he is serious when he disparages other artists and calls them pretentious but it's not serious to me. I mean is Patty Smith not pretentious when she reads Rimbaud on stage? Big deal you know? Yeah, it's great poetry but she is trying too hard when she does that. She's not Rimbaud that's for sure; she's just acting superior because she thinks she gets it and you don't.

    The Beatles and The Doors all were abused by the establishment so he can't pretend they weren't or that he was so far ahead of his time. Yeah, the subject matter was pretty matter of fact that other bands hinted at and maybe he thought they were sell-outs by not speaking plainly but so what? The Velvets were amazing in their space and so were The Beatles…

  6. Ecléctico Iconoclasta

    I love the beatles but that part of "the beatles were garbage" was funny. I love how he enjoy this sort of trolling

  7. pantera29palms

    Did he just say the doors were stupid? Fuck this guy!

  8. daniela rotar

    which is the name of the first song played in this video ?

  9. DLMU

    I respect Lou Reed's music and intelligence but saying the Beatles and The Doors are garbage? Come on

  10. Fozzy757

    God bless ya Lou

  11. Luis Lizano

    Lou Reed=Caquita

  12. Bijan Fletcher

    Lou reed liked japanese guys pooping on his chest. true story 2004

  13. Duke TIP

    lou reeds voice is so soothing to listen to i could listen to this shit for hours on end

  14. Bob Bowie

    If your desire is to be a troubadour- maybe it would help if you took some music lessons. -Adm. George Stephen Morrison to his son Jim Morrison on his apparent career path.

  15. Jayson Chacon

    what a dick

  16. Gerardo Mata

    the beatles were an overatted boy band!

  17. afauxican_american

    The Beatles are the one band you're absolutely not allowed to talk shit about. I've made people cry/try to fight me because of shit I've about them.

    It's amazing how most Beatles fans are still like horny 15 year olds protecting the objects of their affection.

  18. Freedom Fighter 29

    what's the name of the song in the beginning can someone please tell me

  19. 0bbpoison

    lou didn't like the Beatles. he thought their music was empty. I believe "who loves the sun" is supposed to be a parody of the beatles

  20. El Tiburon

    I hated LOU Reed but some of his music was cool with the VU.

  21. Jared Crenshaw

    Heroin is one of the most powerful songs I've ever heard, lyrically, musically, and emotionally.

  22. scaredypicker

    I said, "I want to be a singer like Lou Reed."
    "I like Lou Reed," she said, sticking her tongue in my ear.
    "Let's go, let's sit, let's talk, politics goes so good with beer.
    "And while we're at it, baby, why don't you tell me one of your
    Biggest fears?"

  23. JamieVlogs

    The Doors were good, but Jim was a poet not a rockstar.

  24. Rudy Flores

    I even though the Beatles and the doors suck. then I got older and now I like them lol

  25. Joe Miller


  26. musicisbrilliant

    "The Doors are WORSE than stupid." -Lou Reed. Sheesh!!

  27. musicisbrilliant

    WHAAAAT? Did old Lou really just say the Doors were "worse than stupid????" Wow, Lou. Thats just sad, and a terrible, pathetic attitude. Always will love Lou but this made me dislike a lot more. You CANT say the Doors were WORSE than stupid. Oh Lou…

  28. Nintendo Machine

    Bullshit that he didn't like the Beatles

  29. Aleksander Finstad

    Lou Reed is a genius, love his works

  30. funkypapi


  31. Tom Thomas

    The pope is a nigger.

  32. Dany Kahn

    Lou Reed and gorillaz

  33. Asher Short

    Absolutely ADORE this interview but the title seems a little misleading unless im missing something?

  34. rtydingco

    sorry Lou, when the velvet's were at their peak, and the Doors were at their peak they blew you away both lyrically and musically ..

  35. Leo - ̃-

    I like how confident he is

  36. Randi Brooks

    From Me To You,and especially She Loves You and I Want To Hold Your Hand were praised by some music critics even from the beginning,like William Mann of The London Times in December 1963 pointed out their interesting unusual chords and arrangements and London Times music critic Richard Buckle also in late 1963 called John and Paul the greatest composers since Beethoven after they wrote the music for a play Mods and Rockers.

    Bob Dylan ,Roger McGuinn of The Byrds as early as 1963 and 1964 pointed out that even in early Beatles songs like She Loves You and I Want To Hold Your Hand had unusual and interesting chords and they arranged them.

    Here in this article about The Beatles chords,Bob Dylan is quoted saying what he thought in 1964 about The early Beatles music,he said that they were doing things nobody was doing and that their chords were outrageous,just outrageous and their harmonies made it all valid.


    Here in Rolling Stone Magazine's 100 Greatest Song Writers Bob Dylan is number 1,Paul McCartney is number 2, and John Lennon is number 3, Bob Dylan is quoted about a car trip when he heard a lot of Beatles songs on the radio, he said they were doing things and that he knew they were pointing the direction where music had to go.

    Roger McGuinn has said that he started to play a 12 string guitar after he saw and heard George Harrison playing in in the A Hard Day's Night movie.

    And John and Paul wrote one of The Rolling Stones first hits the rock n roll song, I Wanna Be Your Man in late 1963 right in front of them. And Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were impressed and said wow,how can you write a song just like that and it inspired them to start writing their own songs.

    John Lennon and Paul McCartney were such amazingly talented singer song writers that they were already writing hit songs for other artists as early as 1963 when their own song writing success was getting off the ground,besides The Rolling Stones,they also wrote hit songs in 1963 for Billy J.Krammer and The Dakatos,Celia Black,and Peter and Gordon etc.

    Paul wrote his first song at age 14 and was playing guitar,John wrote heavy deep poetry but didn't start writing songs until he met Paul and was impressed that he wrote his own songs,and he too started to write his own songs at age 16,and they wrote together and never stopped from then on. Paul wrote the very pretty song I'll Follow The Sun at only 16.Even when The Beatles first came to America in February 1964 many people said how rare it was for adult rock n roll bands and solo artists to write their own songs,and Paul and John were already doing this as teenagers in the mid 1950's.

    And even though I wasn't born yet in 1963 I know what type of music was popular on the radio,non rock n roll songs like Bobby Vinton,The Four Seasons,Bobby Darin and The Beach Boys surfing hits,The early Beatles songs like She Loves You, I Want To Hold Your Hand and I Saw Her Standing there etc were hard rock for 1963 and ahead of their time.

  37. Randi Brooks

    Also, classical composer Leonard Bernstein called John and Paul the greatest composers of the 20th century so did Elton John on a 1991 CBS Morning news show,he was asked who he musically admires and he said you can talk about your Rogers and Hammerstein but for the quantity of quality songs that Lennon and McCartney wrote in that short period of time,he said he thinks they were the greatest song writers of the 20th century.Brian Wilson said this too on a 1995 Nightline Beatles tribute show. The Beatles are in the Vocal Hall of Fame and John and Paul have been in the song writing Hall of Fame since 1987,Keith Richards and Mick Jagger have been in it since 1993,but as of now no members of The Who,or Led Zeppelin are in The Song Writing Hall Of Fame or The Vocal Hall Of Fame,The Rolling Stones aren't in The Vocal Hall of Fame either and The Beatles were awarded about 20 prestigious Ivor Novello awards as great singers and song writers in just a remarkable 8 year recording career,John and Paul won the first one in early 1964!

    They also won an Oscar for their film score of their 1970 film Let It Be.

  38. Randi Brooks

    In 2010 I read an online article that had an interview with Ernie Isley of The Isley Brothers about a recent tribute to Jimi Hendrix, in which he says that Jimi played for The Isley Brothers & lived with them & that they & he were fans of The Fab Four from the moment they all watched them on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964. I always thought that Jimi was only a later period Beatles fan,I knew he played Sgt.Pepper live the weekend it came out,& he played Day Tripper live also,& several people on different message boards said that when he was asked where the direction of music was going,he said ask The Beatles.

  39. Randi Brooks

    Here is a really good July 1976 Rolling Stone Magazine interview with George Martin in which he's asked about George Harrison who he says is talented but John and Paul are so enormously talented that it was silly to look elsewhere.But it's obvious George Harrison was even more talented as a song writer and guitarist than most people realize because in this same interview George Martin says that he didn't give George much encouragement he just tolerated him. And of course John and Paul didn't give him much encouragement,so he did mostly everything on his own.


  40. Randi Brooks

    Around 2003 I found an online interview with George Martin and he said that even though he has produced many other music artists and he has never had the same success before or after producing The Beatles,he has never known or worked with anyone as brilliant as The Beatles. He was also interviews in the 1990's on a Breakfast With The Beatles show on a local rock station,and he said that John Lennon and Paul McCartney were incredibly talented people and he said it like he still couldn't believe it. And he also said they both were extraordinarily talented song writers and great singers.

    And in the excellent thorough book by Mark Lewisohn,The Beatles Recording Sessions,George Martin,and so many of The Beatles tape operators and recording engineers are interviewed,(and in the beginning there is a great 1987 interview with Paul McCartney) and they describe in detail how truly innovative, brilliant and creative especially John and Paul were in their amazing 8 year recording career. And there is a big black and white picture of Mick Jagger sitting in between John and Paul in the recording console room listening to the playback of the songs from The Beatles Revolver album.

    And my cousin who was born in 1968 who used to be a lawyer,and his brother born in 62 who is still a lawyer,and their sister born in 64,their oldest brother born in 60,and their parents have always been Beatles fans. My cousin born in 68,went to England around 1991 and he told me that he was at a British Museum where the works of Shakespere,Dickens,Wodsworth and Keats,Lennon and McCartney's lyrics are right in the same case. And he said the majority of visitors always said,forget the Shakespeare etc,lets go over to the Lennon and McCartney lyrics.

    When I once asked him,if he still liked The Beatles he said,best band there ever was.My step cousin born in 1958,said they probably were the greatest band ever.He saw Paul McCartney and Wings in May 1976 in concert when he was 18 and he said it was a great show.

  41. Randi Brooks

    This 1999 review of Mark Lewisohn's excellent Beatles studio diary book where many of The Beatles recording engineers and tape operators and their producer George Martin are interviewed (and it shows how truly innovative,brilliant and creative especially John and Paul were in the recording studio),The Beatles Recording Sessions titled, Behind The Creative Genius Of A Groundbreaking Band by a musician himself says it all, he says that as a musician he found Mark Lewisohn's portrayal of The Beatles genius and in parenthesis he says, especially that of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, to be completely thorough and accurate, as well as insightful. He then says if you are to buy any one Beatles book,buy this one.


    And this reviewer RAS who became a big Beatles fan after he read The Beatles Recording Sessions book,said,I think The Beatles ARE BRILLIANT and he said he despairs what his life would be like without The Beatles!! He said that when he first saw this book,he said Oh another garbage Beatles book.