Discover more from From The Mixed Up Files of Mr. Matthew T. Schindler
Lou Reed vs. Faux Jean
The Beginning of a Great Adventure
Faux Velvet Luvas,
Fourteen weeks have passed since beginning on this new path with “From The Mixed Up Files of Mr. Matthew T. Schindler, Vol. 1.”
Each week since June 21, 2022, I have added a new song to this evolving album of demos, voice memos and what have you.1
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As you may recall, the first song on the album, “Buzz Buzz Buzz,” was released in an effort to get my song out into the world before Lou Reed’s own demo version of a song called “Buzz Buzz Buzz” would be released, which I wrote about here.
I am happy to report, the two songs sound nothing alike.2
And now, Volume 1 of the “Mixed Up Files” will come to a close as a 14-track document of this time. You can listen to the album in the window below.
Next week, I will begin with Volume 2 of the “Mixed Up Files,” with more crazy song ideas released into the wild, new artwork and more essays about the creative process.
Thank you for hanging out with me, Faux Jean, and reading about these songs for the past 14 weeks.
And now, if you will indulge me, I’ve written about my hero, Lou Reed, in an essay below, which I began on June 21, 2022, but just finished today.
Lou Reed vs. Faux Jean
“Romeo Rodriguez squares his shoulders
Runs a comb through his
This is the poetry of Lou Reed, from “Romeo Had Juliet.”
Lou Reed & “New York” were up for a Grammy for Rock Vocal of the Year and lost to Don Henley. I kinda stopped “believing” in the Grammys in the way I had in my youth when that happened.
Lou Reed is definitely one of my heroes. Not a God, but a hero, both as a poet and as a guy who knew how to present an aesthetic and come up with great—if sometimes quirky—chord changes. And though he is not a God, he definitely belongs in the faux-jean-pantheon of muses.
“I bet you I can hit that light
With my one good arm
Behind my back
Says little Joey Diaz.”
These words, from the same song, also work as a kind of out-loud mantra for me, a little reminder that poetry and music can make me feel. . . different or better?
Maybe you’re unpacking boxes after a grueling move and you stand up and your back hurts and you’re bugged by the ache. Romeo Rodriguez might be able to help you at that moment.
Growing up, I was aware of Lou Reed more so than the Velvet Underground.
In Duluth, Minnesota, you might hear “Take a Walk on the Wild Side” on KQDS, but you were not going to hear “Venus in Furs.” (Mayyybe “Sweet Jane,” but probably not.)
When I was in high school at Duluth East, I discovered the local college radio station, KUMD, which played new and/or cutting edge stuff on Thursday evenings on a program called RPM. They did not use the word alternative to describe what they were offering to the world at that time.
In my room at night, I would sit by the boom box listening to RPM on KUMD with my finger on the record button and make mix-tapes of songs that pleased my ear at the exact moment they came out of the speaker. “I’m Beginning to See the Light” by the Velvet Underground was on one of those tapes, though I wasn’t sure exactly who was singing.
Lou Reed entered my brain for real at that time. Like, who is this guy making these crazy yelping sounds and why do I like it so much?4
The internet has been very helpful in rediscovering some of the songs (and the artists who sang them) on those tapes that gave me such pleasure as I whipped around Duluth Minnesota in a 1979 Honda Civic. Like, who can forget this classic:
When I left Duluth in 1987, I was a committed (if not overzealous) fan of the Replacements, REM and Hüsker Dü. My older brother Tad had turned me on to REM and the Violent Femmes, and I had found the Smiths and Lou Reed/VU through the radio.5
In 1988, as a German major at UW-Madison, I was assigned to work on a team project about Shadenfreude or some such thing. One evening, I found myself in the single dorm room of a very earnest and very German-seeming young man (first generation, but he had the glasses and the beat up Birkenstocks).
Through casual conversation, he learned that I knew of Lou Reed primarily as a solo artist/songwriter and was not too familiar with The Velvet Underground’s albums. He became very agitated at this fact. He seemed upset when I left for the evening.6
The next afternoon, I went to his dorm to work on the project again and he presented me with a neat stack of cassette tapes. He had stayed up all night and recorded the entire Velvet Underground discography onto Maxell tapes for me, with meticulous tiny handwriting listing all the songs and special notes. What an amazing gift?!
Vielen Dank, Herr Blust!
I listened to and loved those albums.
I also tried to get others to love them, with varying degrees of success.
I still remember being on a road trip with my older sister Jen around this time. I’m in the back seat starting to doze, she’s up front with my Velvet Underground tape playing after I’d begged her to put it on. “Venus in Furs” comes on. Less than a minute into the song she hits the eject button and launches the cassette in my back-seat direction in a menacing way. It’s not for everyone.
Fast forward to the mid-nineties and my band mate/brother-in-law Chris says he’s got a one-off grunt job for me if I’m so inclined, ripping out the carpet and dealing with various construction detritus at his friend Dan’s house.
Chris and I spent a day getting dusty, yanking and dragging carpet out of the house, pulling lattice and the like.
For this, we were handsomely compensated, plus Dan said we could help ourselves to any of the CDs he had in a large box that he’d acquired on various trips to the candy store.7
So there in that box is the Velvet Underground box set, “Peel Slowly and See,” still in the wrapper. That is to say, I’d once again been gifted the entire works of the Velvet Underground, this time in a digital format, with copious notes and extra tracks etc. In the pre-streaming world, this was a goldmine. What an amazing gift?!
Vielen Dank, Herr Wilson.8
All of this to say, I love what you have given the world, Mr. Lou, and thank you for being an inspiration.
Also, thanks to you (and your estate) for making LO-FI demo recordings available on BandCamp in the year 2022; it makes me feel less silly doing it.
Rest In Peace, dear Lou.
Lewis Allan Reed (March 2, 1942 – October 27, 2013)
I remain your humble servant,
Literal mixed up files of song ideas living on various drives and formats.
And Lou and I are not afraid to release less-than-perfect demos on BandCamp.
They are from the song “Romeo had Juliet.” (Of course, these words must be spoken in the voice of Mr. Lou Reed.)
Also on that particular tape was “How Soon is Now?” by the Smiths, “Top of the Class” by Gruppo Sportivo, and a warped-out ten second snippet of “Lodi” by CCR. A lot of the bands on those tapes, I never caught their names, but I listened to their songs over and over. Coincidentally, Laurie Anderson’s Superman was also on that same tape.
I think Tad may have been trying to cure me of my love for John Cougar and the Doors when he made certain tapes for me. (Naturally, I was very happy to learn many years later that Lou Reed and John Mellencamp were buds and connected via David Bowie of all people.)
I think I had expressed admiration for the Cowboy Junkies cover of “Sweet Jane” and he didn’t like that I didn’t know of Reed’s perhaps more important contributions to the canon.
This was Dan from Semisonic, who wrote “Closing Time” and a truck-load of other great songs that you probably know. He would get free CDs and swag when he visited the corporate offices of their label, and had an overflowing box of such delights in his den.
Remember a couple of newsletters back when I said I was a lucky bastard?