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Baker's Dozen

Mob Deep: Michael Imperioli's Favourite Music
Simon Price , August 5th, 2020 09:21

Actor, writer, producer and musician Michael Imperioli – best known for playing Christopher Moltisanti in The Sopranos – chooses his 13 favourite tracks, and discusses the use of music in the series. Simon Price listens in an unmarked van across the street.


The Velvet Underground - 'New Age'
Lou Reed is my favourite musical artist, period. We got to be friends in the last decade of his life, and I wound up writing a novel that he is a character in called The Perfume Burned His Eyes, which was published a couple of years ago, and now I'm developing it into a movie. My favourite Velvet Underground album is Loaded, which is kind of blasphemous because a lot of the hardcore Velvets fans wouldn't want you to say that as John Cale wasn't on that record. It was Doug Yule singing a lot of the songs. I think it's an underrated record really.

I mean, I love all the Velvet Underground records. I'm not dismissing anything before it, but after the experimentation and all that groundbreaking music that they made, Cale and Lou Reed went their separate ways and the dust kind of settled, and what really came through is the fact that here's this incredible genius songwriter. He's simple but very complex at the same time, and writes very potent rock & roll songs, and I just love the songs on that album. 'Oh! Sweet Nuthin' and 'Who Loves The Sun' and 'Ocean', and this one especially, 'New Age', which is almost like a Lou Reed counterpart to The Kinks' 'Celluloid Heroes'. There are definitely a lot of parallels between these two songs. But I just love Lou's storytelling. Doug Yule sings the song, it's actually not even Lou singing, but somehow works.

It's a song about fandom and stardom, and actually there's two other songs that I chose that kind of deal with the same thing. It wasn't completely intentional, but in some ways I guess it is intentional because I chose it and these songs mean something to me.

I didn't discover The Velvet Underground until I was in my twenties. I was a late bloomer with music in general really, but especially with music like punk, and music like The Velvet Underground. But Lou really became my hero as an artist in my twenties, because I just loved his bravery. I loved his honesty. I loved what he did with rock, and bringing this literary quality to it in a very different way to Bob Dylan.

Lou's lyrics are really his own, and he just found his own thing and I'm in many ways indebted to him as an artist, and I think that's where the book stems from in a way.