Lou Reed And Leonard Cohen Back In New York

Lou To Laud Lenny At Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction

A hustle here and a hustle there
New York City is the place where they said
Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
I said hey Joe, take a walk on the wild side

- Lou Reed, Take A Walk on The Wild Side

Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Class Of  2008

Yesterday, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame released the list of the artists who will induct this year’s new members on March 10 in New York.

For those of us who think of the 2008 group of honorees as “Leonard Cohen et al,” the important name on the list is Lou Reed, who met Cohen a few years ago under different circumstances in the same town.

The Other Guys

Those introducing et al follow:


  • Madonna: Justin Timberlake
  • Little Walter: Ben Harper
  • John Mellencamp: Billy Joel
  • Ventures: John Fogerty
  • Dave Clark Five: Tom Hanks

After reviewing that roster, I have the Cohen-Reed duo, even in their current moderately mellowed phase, as 8 to 5 favorites in the Toughest Guys In The Room competition1 and 20 to 1 favorites for Way Cool prize.

Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed, and Nico – The 1st Time In New York

There are at least a couple of different stories floating around the Internet about how Leonard Cohen and Lou Reed met, and straightening that out necessitates (delightfully) bringing Nico into the picture. This excerpt from “Leonard Cohen” by Scott Cohen in his book, Yakety Yak (1994), summarizes the action in Cohen’s own words:

In 1966 I borrowed some money from a friend in Montreal and came down to the great empire, America, to try to make my way. I had written a few books and I couldn’t make a living. I played in a country band and I loved country music and I had a few songs I thought were country songs and I was on my way ultimately to Nashville but I got ambushed in New York by the folk renaissance — and got my first public appearance at the Newport Folk Festival.

In New York I found this huge explosion of things and I was interested in this enlightened community being promoted in the east side of New York and I would go down there but I couldn’t locate it. I walked into a club called the Dome and I saw someone singing there who looked like she inhabited a Nazi poster; it was Nico, the perfect Aryan ice queen. And there was a very handsome young man playing for her; he turned out to be Jackson Browne.

I just stood there and said forget the new society, this is the woman I’ve been looking for. I followed her all around New York. She led me to Max’s Kansas City.

I met Lou Reed there and he said something very kind to me which made me feel at home. I had no particular clout in that scene. I was just a guy who was a little older than the other guys, just sniffing around like everybody else. I was very lonely and mostly interested in finding a girl. Lou came over and introduced himself and said, “I love your book.” I never knew anybody knew my books because they only sold a few thousand copies in America.

We were sitting at a table and some guy was bugging me, in a polite sort of way, and I was responding in a polite sort of way, and Lou Reed said to me, “Hey, man, you don’t have to be nice to this guy. You don’t have to be nice to anybody. You’re the man who wrote ‘Beautiful Losers.'” Nico eventually told me, “Look, I like young boys. You’re just too old for me.

Bonus: Lou Reed and Julie Christensen Cover Leonard Cohen

Lou Reed and Julie Christensen sing Cohen Joan of Arc
(From Came So Far for Beauty tribute concert – Dublin October 2006)

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  1. Without Madonna in the mix, Cohen and Reed would be favored at 50 to 1 []

0 responses to “Lou Reed And Leonard Cohen Back In New York

  1. and it’s going to be aired live on VH1 Classic (8:30/7:30c). more details over at their site http://www.vh1classic.com

  2. Hi Doc,
    In a wonderful moment of homecoming we saw Jackson on thursday night at the Echoplex…he was promoting a wonderful band from Spain called Son de la Frontera. They were part of the the Spain tribute to LC concert and they are definitely worth the price of admission.
    Great to read this story…