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Took Me by Surprise

October 29, 2013

It’s been three days since we learned about Lou Reed and it still hurts.  This surprises me.  I didn’t really see this coming.  I cannot tell a story about how I reached for his music when I needed it or talk about any of his albums as an anchor.  Over the years, I have held on tightly to Sweet Jane, but was only a casual listener to the remainder of his catalog.

lou reed flowers

In New York City, someone remembered Lou Reed with flowers and candles outside the Chelsea Hotel.

That hasn’t been the case the past two days,  Whenever I’ve been able to turn on the stereo, I’ve been playing Lou’s music – mostly the pretty stuff, because that sounds good to me right now.

And here I am writing about Lou Reed twice in just three days, on a blog that isn’t about music.  That doesn’t seem like very good form.  But since the blog is not designed for anything in particular, except for those topics I want to write about, it’s no big deal.  Reed said that he wrote for nobody but himself.  With my inconsequential enterprise here on Ram On, I have the same luxury.


Blind Lemon Jefferson released “See That My Grave is Kept Clean” on a 78 RPM vinyl record in 1928. Many have performed it over the years. I first heard it on Bob Dylan’s first album, which was released in 1962.

Many people have eloquently told their story about how much Lou Reed’s music means to them.  You don’t have to look long to find lovely remembrances and heartfelt descriptions of the influence of his music on other musicians and listeners.  They are plentiful and just about everywhere.  Some of them are very moving and his music clearly touched those who listened most closely.

Others are recounting and praising him for the things he cared about – human rights, equality, freedom of speech and artistic freedom.  He lent his reputation and gave support to Amnesty International, Farm Aid, Sun City (South Africa anti-apartheid) and other worthy causes and important issues.  He joined the crowds during the Occupy Wall Street protests.  Lou Reed stood up when others needed help.

There are any number of troubles in the world these days.  But as happens when a celebrity passes, the world seems to stop for a moment.  Many are mourning for Lou Reed.  I am listening to his music.  Cherishing some, because it seems that it is reaching me when I need it.

There’s just one last favor I’ll ask of you
And there’s just one last favor I’ll ask of you
There’s just one last favor I’ll ask of you
See that my grave is kept clean

– Blind Lemon Jefferson

From → Music

  1. Love this, thank you Bruce, xo, LMA


  2. Thank you, LMA.
    (I really like Lou Reed’s version of “See That My Grave is Kept Clean.”)


  3. I’ve never seen this performance. It’s great! Thanks for sharing it. I remember when there were riots in Tompkins Square Park about the time Reed’s album ‘New York’ came out. I wasn’t living in NY at the time, but Arsinio Hall, of all people, dedicated part of his show to the event, with Reed as guest. Reed’s passion and Hall’s attentiveness to that passion was one of the most memorable moments in television for me.


  4. Mark – I must have listened to Lou Reed’s version of this song fifty times those few days after we learned about him. I agree – it is really a terrific performance.

    I think I would’ve enjoyed that Arsinio Hall show. As it goes, I can’t remember watching his show one time. Maybe there was something there that I missed.


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