Julian Sanchez header image 2

photos by Lara Shipley

Romeo Had Juliette

June 14th, 2006 · No Comments

One lazy evening in my misspent hippie youth, I was puttering about the house when a striking spoken word performance came on the radio—I think it was probably Vin Scelsa‘s old Idiot’s Delight show, but I’m not sure. It was the unmistakable, gravelly voice of Lou Reed doing an updated Romeo and Juliet over dissonant guitar chords. (Well, it was unmistakable until the D.C. Berman started doing such a convincing version of it—speaking of which, I just discovered American Water an inexplicable eight years late; high must-owniness quotient.) Years later, in the heyday of Napster, I tried to track it down on a whim, but only found the version off Reed’s New York album—a solid but, as far as I was concerned, unremarkable rock song. Well, I finally just noticed I’d been misspelling the title of the song, which is “Romeo Had Juliette,” and lo an behold, the spoken word version is available online: Seems it was part of the United States of Poetry series. Not quite as arresting now as it was that first time, but still worth a listen. It manages to come off haunting and sad where the song feels merely cynical.

Tags: Art & Culture