Tom Gross at NRO notes a facet about the late Lou Reed – who passed away Sunday after a long battle with liver failure – that has gotten rare mention in the media; he was one of New York’s few arts intelligentsia who were staunchly pro-Israel:
I mention Reed’s Jewishness because not a single obituary I have read of him in the mainstream press mentions it, when for Reed it was an important factor.
Reed, who died yesterday of liver failure at the age of 71, was born Lewis Allan Reed to a Jewish family in Brooklyn. He said that while “he had no god apart from rock ‘n’ roll” his Jewish roots and standing up for Israel meant a lot to him. He was a frequent visitor to the country, last performing in Tel Aviv in 2008, and his aunt and many cousins live in Haifa and other Israeli towns.
Reed even had an Israeli spider named after him to thank him for his support for the country.
Like Gross, I remember his “Good Evening Mr. Waldheim”, from 1989’s New York album.
By way of going after the former UN Secretary General (who’d served in the SS during World War 2, Reed rips into Jesse Jackson – famous for supporting Farrakhan and the PLO, and for his “Hymietown” jape, noting that some of the civil rights workers murdered in the sixties in the deep south were Jewish.
And since we’re on the subject: “Sweet Jane” is still my favorite Reed song:
All claims that the Cowboy Junkies’ version is better are heard, considered, and rejected. And I don’t care that Reed himself said so. Know why? Listen to all the background chatter in the Velvets’ original version – all the raw little interjections and imperfections and accidents – that’s the fun part.