Laurie Anderson & Lou Reed’s Rules to Live By

Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson. Photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

I collect quotations — the epigrammatic, the wise, the thoughtful. Sometimes, I post these in my “Commonplace Book” entries. Here’s another for the commonplace book, offered by Laurie Anderson on the occasion of Lou Reed‘s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, on Saturday, April 18, 2015. It’s “rules to live by,” co-written by Reed and Anderson, who were life partners for 21 years (and who married in 2008):

I’m reminded also of the three rules we came up with, rules to live by. And I’m just going to tell you what they are because they come in really handy. Because things happen so fast, it’s always good to have a few, like, watchwords to fall back on.

And the first one is: One. Don’t be afraid of anyone. Now, can you imagine living your life afraid of no one? Two. Get a really good bullshit detector. And three. Three is be really, really tender. And with those three things, you don’t need anything else.

Here’s the video of the entire speech, recorded by a member of the audience (so, the audio’s not great). This “rules to live by” portion runs from 8:55 to 9:46.

There’s also an imperfect transcript of Anderson’s speech in Rolling Stone. I hope a more precise transcription (or, perhaps, the full text of her speech) is forthcoming.

Because you should hear their music, too, here’s a recording of “In Our Sleep,” co-written by Anderson and Reed, and performed by them both. This remix is from the CD single. The original version appears on Anderson’s Bright Red (1994).

Photo of Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders.  I found it on this site (which seems to be defunct). So, for further information, try Mr. Greenfield-Sanders’ website.

2 Comments »

  1. Kristin Said,

    December 11, 2015 @ 10:12 am

    I was living in St. Thomas when I heard of Lou Reed’s passing. I had met him and Andy Warhol when The Velvet Underground performed at the University of Utah and Andy did the light show for them. My next door neighbor’s (Peter Brandt) band Smoke opened for them. They came over to my house afterwards where me and my three room mates enjoyed their company and getting to know know them some. A great memory that I reflect on.
    I painted a portrait of Lou Reed when I heard of his passing. Laurie is an incredible artist and I have much respect for her and her music. I just heard she has a movie out. Heart of the Dog I believe. I will definitely see it. Carry on Laurie.

  2. Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson’s Three Rules for Living Well: A Short and Succinct Life Philosophy | Golden Gate Daily Said,

    July 1, 2016 @ 2:11 am

    […] Reed (above, in shaky audience video)—is this: keep it simple. Kansas State English Professor Philip Nel points out Anderson’s “wise… thoughtful” words on the subject of living well, […]

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