Joseph Arthur Covers Lou Reed: “Walk On The Wild Side”

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Joseph Arthur by Larry Hirshowitz
Joseph Arthur by Larry Hirshowitz (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

On May 13, 2014 prolific artist Joseph Arthur released his first album on the Vanguard Record label, though perhaps not the record he initially imagined.

The release, titled “Lou: The Songs Of Lou Reed” is a collection of cover songs performed solo, stripped away, pulled apart and generally re-imagined as a way to remember his late friend and mentor who suddenly passed away on October 27th, 2013.

One year to the day of Reeds passing, Joseph joined KCRW on Morning Becomes Eclectic to play a few selections from the album as a way to celebrate the anniversary.

Along with performing some original songs written by Arthur, he also recited a poem he had penned to say good-bye to Reed, created an original visual art piece while performing his song “I Miss The Zoo” and he recounted for our audience the story about meeting Lou for the first time:

“I met Lou before I put out my first record…I’m dating myself, but it was in 1995 I think. Peter Gabriel actually brought him to my audition for Real World Records, which was Peter’s label.

I was a bass player still faking my way through songs. I was completely mortified just to be playing in front of Peter Gabriel, much less Lou.

It was at the Fez Under Time cafe. I found out 15 minutes before that Lou was coming with, at that time, his state of the art digital audio tape recorder.

I remember going in the bathroom and praying. I wasn’t a big prayer… but I got on my knees and prayed. It was an out of body experience. I don’t remember the performance, really just that I was utterly self conscious.

I remember I got off of stage and went right up to Lou, not because of any utter confidence but, it was a small place (I couldn’t go anywhere else) I went to go talk to Peter and Lou was in front of me. 

Lou said, “I really like the song King of Hide and Seek.” I didn’t have a song (called) ‘king of hide and seek’ but I did have a song with that lyric in it. But that title was 3,000 times cooler.

I was out of my body shaking his hand. Im from Ohio, I’ve never met anyone famous and here I am with Peter Gabriel meeting Lou Reed.

Then we go out to eat after the audition and Dolly Parton was in the booth next to us. I found out that Peter Gabriel’s first thought for (the song) Don’t Give Up was Dolly Parton.

I think Peter and Lou were more star struck with Dolly than the other way around. It relieved a little tension, it (the whole scene) was just too absurd.”