The new exhibition “Lou Reed: Caught Between the Twisted Stars” opens at Lincoln Center’s Library for Performing Arts on Thursday, but it nearly ended up in Texas. As Reed’s widow Laurie Anderson explained in conversation with The New York Times, she cut off conversations with UT Austin after Texas legislators passed a law allowing handguns to be carried on college campuses.
Reed died in 2013, and Anderson had initially wanted his archive to be housed at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, which already boasted papers from James Joyce, Norman Mailer, and Don DeLillo. But after Governor Abbott signed the campus-carry bill in 2015, “I called them up,” she said. “‘This thing we’ve been talking about for a couple years? It’s off. Because of guns.’”
A few months later, she read about a program at the New York Public Library to digitize archives, and saw how Reed’s past could fit into the library’s future. In 2017, the NYPL acquired the archive.
“Caught Between the Twisted Stars” runs from June 9th, 2022 through March 4th, 2023. It’s stocked with 2.5 terabytes of digital files, and boasts some never-before-heard demos of early Velvet Underground songs, which are described as “stripped-down, almost folky acoustic versions.”
“This collection is to inspire people,” Anderson explained. “It’s not necessarily to say, ‘Here’s the real Lou Reed.’ That’s never what it was meant to be. Here’s a lot of his music and how he did it. Be inspired by it. But it’s not and can’t be a real picture of the man.”
Even if you can’t make it to New York, you won’t have to wait long to hear more from the archive. Anderson has partnered with Light in the Attic Records for a new archival series and the first edition, Words & Music, May 1965, arrives August 26th.