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Suzanne Vega talks Lou Reed

On the seventh anniversary of his death, Suzanne Vega talks Velvet Underground mainman Lou Reed

The first concert I was taken to was Lou Reed in 1979. He was smoking, throwing lit cigarettes at the audience and miming shooting up onstage. It felt like that moment in Taxi Driver where he takes a woman to a porn film. I asked my date: “Why did you take me to see this?” He said: “Because the music’s fantastic,” and it was. I bought Berlin and the other albums and became obsessed. I got to know Lou, and he was a guy of many moods. He could be absolutely charming and embrace you or just freeze you out and pretend he’d never seen you before.

He could be confiding or flirtatious, but he had this great love affair with Laurie Anderson, and so I always knew it wasn’t serious. ’Cos he’d send me texts: “Get in a car and come out here.” It was always easy to say no, although, as our 25-year friendship became deeper in his final years, it became a source of wonder. The most unlikely moment? We were leaving a dinner party. He was having problems with his eyesight and asked for help getting down some stairs in the dark. He put his hand on my arm and I showed him with my phone flashlight where to put his feet. It was very moving.

Suzanne Vega was talking to Dave Simpson at wrongmog.com. Her poignantly melancholic cover of Walk On The Wild Side is here

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