ROME – An Italian cardinal has startled the Roman Catholic – and probably the rock music – world by tweeting a tribute to the iconic Jewish-born singer Lou Reed.
Reed died Sunday of complications following a liver transplant.
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the Vatican’s culture minister, on Monday tweeted out a verse from Reed’s song “Perfect Day.” On his Twitter account @CardRavasi he wrote: “Oh, it’s such a perfect day/ I’m glad I spend it with you/ Oh, such a perfect day/ You just keep me hanging on (Lou Reed).”
On the face of it the lyrics refer to a love story, but the “you” in the song also has been interpreted as being heroin – as was pointed out in some of the replies to the cardinal’s tweet.
In his following tweet, Ravasi also mentioned Reed and clarified that he didn’t condone drugs. He warned against “illusions” and quoted the Bible verse about reaping what you sow, noting that Reed himself had used that line in “Perfect Day.”
Ravasi’s tweet before his Lou Reed tribute also quoted a Jewish cultural figure – the Israeli writer Amos Oz. He tweeted, in Italian: “I never saw a religious fanatic with a sense of humor. Nor a person with a sense of humor becoming a fanatic. (Amos Oz)”
Reed, who was 71 when he died, was born Lewis Allan Reed to a middle class Jewish family in Brooklyn, but said that he had no god apart from rock ‘n’ roll.
The principal songwriter and a key member of the influential band Velvet Underground, who went on to a long, resonant, and intermittently successful solo career and was most widely known for songs like “Walk on the Wild Side” and “Perfect Day,” Reed made contradictory remarks about his Jewishness.
He once reportedly told journalist Lester Bangs that he didn’t know any Jewish people. But, on another occasion, asked whether he was Jewish, he was said to have responded, “Of course, aren’t all the best people?”