John Cale Honors Lou Reed with “If You Were Still Around” Video

Marc Hogan

By Marc Hogan

Lead News Writer
on 10.27.14 in News

One year ago today, Lou Reed died at age 71 from liver disease. Tributes to the Velvet Underground co-founder and profoundly influential songwriter poured in over the ensuing days and weeks (including this one from Lenny Kaye). More recently, Reed has been nominated as a solo artist for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where he already has a place as a VU member. Now, his former Velvets bandmate — and fellow songwriter nonpareil — John Cale has marked the anniversary of Reed’s passing with a new track and video.

Though the song doesn’t mention Reed explicitly (a different version originally appeared on 1982′s Music for a New Society), a post on Cale’s website linking to the video says, “#therealjohncale ….thinking of Lou.” The song itself is mournful and mesmerizing, with skeletal guitar and humming organ as well as choir-like backing vocals, as Cale sings, “If you were still around, I’d hold you, I’d hold you / I’d shake you by the knees, blow hard in both ears”; in the way it’s full of gravitas but not exactly nostalgia, it brings to mind the secular hymns of David Byrne and Brian Eno‘s 2011 album, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. The video, directed by Abigail Portner (art director and stage designer for Animal Collective), with Cale set against vintage images.

In a statement, as quoted by The Line of Best Fit, Cale says:  “A Moth and a Candle met. They decided to become friends. Everyone enjoyed watching their discourse – especially the risk takers.  Then one day a big rain came. The Moth couldn’t fly and the Candle puttered out. Everyone laughed in bitter awe and blamed the rain. Most however knew the deeper truth – the Candle remains lit and the Moth will stay close.”