The passing of Lou Reed has deeply affected all those of us who were fans of music music, but it must be especially hard for the few artists who had the opportunity to collaborate with the late legend. Reed's final recording released during his lifetime was a cover of Peter Gabriel's 1977 song "Solsbury Hill" on the covers compilation "And I'll Scratch Yours."
But the last original song he worked on was "the Wanderlust," a duet with Toronto singer Emily Haines' on Metric's 2012 album "Synthetica." Haines' mournful tweet last night inspired us top dig up an interview we did with her last year about working with Lou Reed, which we're running below.
This article originally ran on Spinner.ca on June 7, 2012
"Wanderlust," the penultimate song on Metric's long-awaited new album "Synthetica," boasts an unexpected back-up vocal that sounds like the opposite of the album title. It's authentic, apocalyptic and instantly recognizable despite it's lack of advance billing. Oh hello, Lou Reed.
"I thought it'd be nice for people to discover it," Emily Haines tells Spinner, smiling while seated on a comfortably ratty couch at the electro-rock band's own Giant Studios in downtown Toronto.
Haines and Reed first met thanks to an amazingly Canadian confluence of events. While both were playing a Neil Young tribute concert during Vancouver's Winter Olympics, the Metric singer was introduced to the former Velvet Underground bandleader by Barenaked Ladies' Kevin Hearn.
"I assumed he would just say, 'Oh, whatever... nice to meet you' and instead he said, 'ah, Emily Haines, who would you rather be? The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?'" says Haines, who was shocked that Reed had just referenced Metric's "Gimme Sympathy" song. "I was, 'Aw. No fucking way! He knows my name. Not only does he know my band -- which I totally didn't expect --it was a total writer shout-out, which you know is such an important part to me."
Haines says they hit off instantly and she went to dinner with Reed and his friends that night. Later, Reed and his wife Laurie Anderson invited her to perform with him at 'Vivid Live,' an event they were curating at the Sydney Opera House in Australia.
Interview continues after Wanderlust lyric video
"We were rehearsing so the two of us were sitting in chairs next to each other with a room filled with people being really nervous," she says. "But I felt really comfortable with him. We did the song 'Cold Black Sea' from his record about cancer. It was really heavy and it was funny because he totally wasn't playing the main riff. I learned it that way and I was 'where's the riff, Lou?'
"Everyone gasped and he said, 'I can't remember...' I said 'you gotta play the riff, this is the jam. This is the best part.' And everyone was 'Ahhhh! she can't say that.' But he was totally 'ah you're right Haines,' and learned it.
"We did 'Perfect Day' in that same rehearsal and I was singing it. It was really intense. I asked, 'do you have any comment?' and he was 'Well, you have to find the deepest part of yourself otherwise it's just a picnic in the park.' I'm trying to muster my version of a lot of pain and am used to everyone telling me, from as long as I remember, 'you know, you're pretty dark.' Yeah, I fucking know. I'm a heavy cat. So it was nice to be with the Prince of Pain and realize the furthest I could delve was probably going to come up kinda pretty."
The two collaborated again last summer for Shelebration, a tribute to children's poet Shel Silverstein in Central Park. At the time, Metric were finishing "Synthetica" and they were struggling with the line "Wanderlust will carry us on..."
"When I sang it, or the guys sang it, it was like, 'what is this... 'Glee'?' This is not working, but we needed this feeling expressed of just keep on keeping on. I called Lou and he said yes."
Per Reed's wishes, their mics were set up facing each other and they sang the whole song together. Though they wound up only using Reed on the chorus.
"We thought it needed to be a moment, not stand out from the record. At some point maybe we'll release that version.
"So that's the Lou."