Hey Lou

Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • Liz Phair had a love story on her mind when she wrote this upbeat tune, but it wasn't her own. She was thinking about Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson. The late Velvet Underground frontman and the avant-garde performer met in 1992 and were married from 2008 until Reed's death from liver disease in 2013. Their union captured the imagination of their fans, including Phair. "Have you ever wondered what love looks like for your favorite celebrity couple behind closed doors?" she asked. "'Hey Lou' imagines a day in the life of two music legends, whose union was an inspiration for rock bands and a source of curiosity for die hard romantics."
  • This is the second single from Phair's seventh studio album, Soberish, her first full-length release in over a decade. "Hey Lou" dropped two years after the first single, "Good Side."
  • Singing from the perspective of Anderson, Phair imagines the singer lovingly keeping her cantankerous husband in line when he's "acting like an asshole" and rambling on about his falling out with Andy Warhol (the iconic Pop artist who discovered the Velvet Underground and was their early manager). She also worries over his drug addiction resurfacing, asking "Are you on the junk again?" when his eyes look unusually red. But she holds him accountable with a reference to Anderson's 1981 hit "O Superman," singing:

    Oh superman
    I've done as much I can
    You're not the life of the party
  • When Anderson gave an acceptance speech on Reed's behalf for his 2015 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, she shared the couple's "three rules to live by." She said:

    "And the first one is: One. Don't be afraid of anyone. Now, can you imagine living your life afraid of no one? Two. Get a really good bullshit detector. And three. Three is be really, really tender. And with those three things, you don't need anything else."
  • The Toben Seymour-directed music video imagines Anderson and Reed as puppets who go through their daily routine of drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes, making music, and arguing about Andy Warhol (who's represented as a wild-haired puppet clad in a black turtleneck and sunglasses). Seymour, a director/puppeteer, also helmed clips for Will.i.am ("Heartbreaker"), Norah Jones ("Young Blood"), and Jesse McCartney ("Shake").
  • This reunited Phair with Brad Wood, who co-produced her debut album, Exile In Guyville (1993).

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Deconstructing Doors Songs With The Author Of The Doors Examined

Deconstructing Doors Songs With The Author Of The Doors ExaminedSong Writing

Doors expert Jim Cherry, author of The Doors Examined, talks about some of their defining songs and exposes some Jim Morrison myths.

Guy Clark

Guy ClarkSongwriter Interviews

Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris and Lyle Lovett are just a few of the artists who have looked to Clark for insightful, intelligent songs.

Tom Bailey of Thompson Twins

Tom Bailey of Thompson TwinsSongwriter Interviews

Tom stopped performing Thompson Twins songs in 1987, in part because of their personal nature: "Hold Me Now" came after an argument with his bandmate/girlfriend Alannah Currie.

Alice Cooper

Alice CooperFact or Fiction

How well do you know this shock-rock harbinger who's been publicly executed hundreds of times?

Facebook, Bromance and Email - The First Songs To Use New Words

Facebook, Bromance and Email - The First Songs To Use New WordsSong Writing

Do you remember the first time you heard "email" in a song? How about "hater" or "Facebook"? Here are the songs where they first showed up.

Jonathan Edwards - "Sunshine"

Jonathan Edwards - "Sunshine"They're Playing My Song

"How much does it cost? I'll buy it?" Another songwriter told Jonathan to change these lyrics. Good thing he ignored this advice.