AUSTIN, Texas -- Luckily it went alot better than the Mark Zuckerberg keynote, but then again, it should have. Heckling social networking billionaires and the reporters who interview them is one thing -- having the guts to taunt rock icon Lou Reed is entirely another.
Reed, keynote speaker for the SXSW music conference, probably wouldn’t have put up with it anyway.
“What does ‘Turn off your cell phone’ mean in Texas?” Reed asked when a faint beeping was heard floating through the crowd at the Austin Convention Center. “What is it? ‘Howdy?’”
Despite the mild interruption, the Velvet Underground frontman had a nearly hour-long conversation with music producer Hal Willner, touching on topics varying from the quality of MP3s to posing for Andy Warhol to the authenticity of his lyrics.
“People say, ‘How would you know that?’” Reed said, after Willner asked him to recite some verses of his poignant “Rock Minuet.” “You’re joking right? I have a BA in dope. But a PhD in soul.”
Reed's appearance at SXSW coincides with The Diving Bell and the Butterfly director Julian Schnabel's new film Lou Reed’s Berlin, which is being shown at at the conference. The film features a 2006 performance in Brooklyn of Reed’s 1973 concept album Berlin, which the artist himself acknowledged at the time was dismissed by critics as “the most depressing album ever made.” This observation has, obviously, not stood the test of time and now that many are starting to appreciate his albums anew, Reed believes more performance movies could be in the offing.
“[The film] Berlin was an audition to do more of these things,” he said.