October 29, 2013

Yesterday, as newspapers and media outlets remembered the life and work of Lou Reed, who died Sunday, a lot of journalists were remembering him, too.

Reed scared most of them, several reported, didn’t hide his disdain, and they loved him anyway.

Reed “was the most terrifying rock star I have ever interviewed,” James Delingpole wrote in Britain’s Telegraph.

When I met him, his disdain for me was completed by the wet-fish hand he held out when we finished,” Nick Hasted wrote in The Independent. “No doubt he wiped it afterwards.”

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation offered a list Monday of 10 awkward interview moments, with videos, and this telephone exchange with Marc Spitz for Vanity Fair, on the occasion of his collaboration with Metallica:

Q: You sound like you don’t even care what anyone thinks of it.
A: I really don’t.
Q: So why do press about it at all?
A: Well, we don’t have to do any—
Q: Hello? Lou?

In his obituary for Reed, Chicago Tribune music critic Greg Kot wrote about a time “when a Tribune reporter tried to interview him backstage at the 1990 Farm Aid concert in Indianapolis.”

Reed, hiding behind shades and giving mono-syllabic answers, was in no apparent mood to talk when the journalist sat down with him. Then the writer’s tape recorder inexplicably stopped working.

“Here, let me take a look at that,” Reed offered. “Let`s reload these batteries … Have you checked the pause button?”

Then Reed took off his shades and peered up from the balky machine. “You know,” he said, “we’re just going to have to improvise.”

Olivia Nuzzi wrapped things up nicely Monday in a piece for Huffington Post titled “What anti-journalist Lou Reed taught me about journalism.”

“A journalist’s job is to tell you the story,” Nuzzi writes. “And sometimes you try to tell so much and tell it so quickly that maybe you don’t take the time to determine what the real truth is that you should be telling. But Lou Reed always managed to tell the truth, maybe because he waited to find it as it was rather than conjure it himself.”

And Hasted, of the Independent, ended his piece about Reed with this: “The outpouring of reverence and sorrow which will follow Reed’s death is deserved. It would also make him howl with hollow laughter.”

Related: Capitol New York rounded up the covers of New York papers that featured Reed’s passing.

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Kristen Hare covers the people and business of local news and is the editor of Locally at Poynter. She previously worked as a staff writer…
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