Watch Lou Reed's unique live cover of Smokey Robinson, 1994
(Credit: Danny Norton)

Remembering Lou Reed’s faultless cover of John Lennon’s ‘Jealous Guy’ in New York

We have had a dig around the Far Out archives this afternoon and have mined this piece of absolute gold. It sees Lou Reed paying tribute to the iconic John Lennon at a concert for the former Beatle in 2001 to mark his birthday. Reed takes on the brilliant ‘Jealous Guy’.

The tribute concert, titled Come Together: A Night for John Lennon’s Words and Music, took place at New York City’s historic Radio City Music Hall less than a month after the city was devastated following the 9/11 attacks. It made the evening even more poignant and Lennon’s message even more pertinent.

John Lennon’s son Sean performed with Rufus Wainwright for a touching rendition of ‘This Boy’, a song written for Sean. The set also saw Alanis Morrisette delight the crowd with ‘Dear Prudence’, meanwhile UK pop act Craig David bizarrely gave ‘Come Together’ a ‘unique’ touch and Yolanda Adams performed alongside Billy Preston for a stunning version of ‘Imagine’. But it was Lou Reed’s ‘Jealous Guy’ which would take the New York crowd aback.

The former Velvet Underground man wasn’t ever a true fan of The Beatles and, in an old interview from 1987 which resurfaced following his death, he made his feeling about the Fab Four know: “I never liked The Beatles, I thought they were garbage,” he said. However, Lennon’s solo career was one that he was firmly on board with and described ‘Mothers’ one of his favourite songs of all time.

Reed also took part in a tribute to John in his hometown of Liverpool in 1990 to mark what would have been Lennon’s 50th birthday which didn’t go quite as swimmingly as the New York show. The show was met by a portion of amusement by a contingent of Beatles fans because it was orchestrated in a bid to celebrate what should have been Lennon’s birthday—an occasion which wasn’t actually due to take place until on the official date later in the year.

To add another sense of confusion, the tribute event was also bizarrely hosted by Superman actor Christopher Reeve which, in fairness, was an improvement on the New York concert that was hosted by the now-disgraced actor Kevin Spacey who equally had no affiliation with Lennon’s career.

Yoko Ono sanctioned the celebration and all the profits from the event were to be passed on to Lennon’s Spirit Foundation. However, the high ticket price meant that many fans were put off and led to only a reported 15,000 people attending an outdoor venue that holds up to 45,000.

Ono also failed to secure performances from the three remaining members of The Beatles with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr instead sending video messages which played on the big screen. George Harrison opted to stay away from the concert altogether. It left much of the show wanting but there was one shining light, Lou Reed.

Reed stole the show at with his impeccable version of ‘Jealous Guy’ which he would, of course, dust off over a decade later in 2001 at Radio City, which you can watch in all of its beauty below.

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