I am Waiting For My Man, except I don't have $26 in my hand, this isn't Lexington, 125, nor do I feel sick and dirty, more dead than alive. I am in Gateshead, feeling excited, because I am about to meet Lou Reed, who wrote Waiting for the Man for the Velvet Underground. I'm also as nervous as I have ever been.
Reed's curmudgeonly reputation precedes him. The last time the Guardian attempted to interview him, he declared: "I don't know anyone actually who does care what a critic says," before adding: "I'm not trying to intimidate you."
I'm just here reviewing the gig, which has somehow resulted in me acquiring a backstage pass, along with the most curious ensemble of Reed "guests" imaginable. Reed used to hang out with David Bowie, Andy Warhol and New York's transvestites and junkies. Tonight he will face an undercover hack, two loud, obnoxious Americans, a 14-year-old boy and a man with a wooden leg.Eventually the Americans flounce off in a huff and the man with the wooden leg declares he once met the Beatles, so isn't bothered hanging around for the guy who created Metal Machine Music, 64 minutes of white noise. Finally, a woman says the "after-show party" just isn't going to happen. I'm the only one left by then, so she tells me: "Maybe you could hang out ... by the stage door."
Who does she think I am? I am a grown adult, write for the Guardian and have a 90-minute drive home. Of course I'll hang out by the stage door.
Moments later, there I am, autograph pen in hand, with 50 or so other Reed groupies. I feel terribly sorry for him. You change the face of music, and instead of being able to get back to your hotel for a mug of herbal tea and a bit of t'ai chi, you have to spend 10 minutes after every gig for the rest of your life behaving like you're in bloody Take That. People form an orderly line while Reed signs autographs in silence. I have 45 seconds to put a question to Reed, which probably rules out the stuff I'd stored up earlier, such as asking him about his infamous encounter with gonzo rock journalist Lester Bangs, when they stayed up all night discussing the purity of mind-boggling varieties of narcotics (published as Let Us Now Praise Famous Death Dwarves, or How I Slugged It Out with Lou Reed and Stayed Awake).
Nervously, I pick the most topical question I can, and hit him with it.
"Mr Reed, what did you think of Coldplay covering your song Perfect Day at the Isle of Wight Festival?"
If it were humanly possible, Reed's expression darkens even further.
"They did whaaaaaaat?"
I tell him Chris Martin told the media that because Reed hadn't played it during his set, Coldplay did it in theirs.
Reed looks so infuriated that I'm still not sure whether his next question "Have you heard that?" is directed at me or members of his entourage. I hurriedly try to pacify him, telling him that although I wasn't at the Isle of Wight and people say Coldplay were pretty good there's no way their Perfect Day could have been anywhere near the unutterably lovely version he played that evening in Gateshead. But he's not having it. I meet Lou Reed and escape with an insight into why he's so famously miserable. I mean, if it's not enough having all sorts of freaks line up for your scrawl on a bit of paper, you get whippersnappers like Coldplay stealing your best bloody songs.
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