Certain Songs #978: Lou Reed – “I Love You, Suzanne”

Album: New Sensations
Year: 1984

It probably seems counter-intuitive that at some point in 1984, the number one album on College Radio was the 13th solo album by a man who was 20 years older than his target audience. It me. But that was the weird confluence of events that surrounded the brief second cultural ascension of Lou Reed.

It was, of course, infamously signified by the “Hey, don’t settle for walking” Honda scooter commercial, but it manifested itself in other ways, as well: the V.U. and Another View outtakes albums, his participation on the Sun City album and the Conspiracy of Hope tour, appearances in various soundtracks like Perfect to Rock and Rule, and of course, this shameless attempt at manufacturing another massive hit single.

With ace lead guitarist Robert Quine replaced by ace guitarist Lou Reed, and crack rhythm section Fernando Saunders & Fred Maher driving towards Motown, “I Love You, Suzanne” was ridiculously upbeat from the drums-and-Lou opening:

You broke my heart and you made me cry
You said that I couldn’t dance
But now I’m back to let youse know
That I can really make romance

And after that, it’s all bouncy jangly guitar, hand claps and Lou declaring his love for the titular Suzanne. For people who preferred Lou to weigh in on more weighty subjects, the way he had on The Blue Mask and its stellar follow-up, Legendary Hearts, were scandalized by the lightness on display here.

But me, I ate this shit up, right down to the video where Lou (or “Lou,” because it might be a stunt double) one-ups Bruce Springsteen by jumping offstage and dancing with the girl in the audience. Every time the song proper kicked in, I’d get a big shit-eating grin on my face, which didn’t let up even as Lou tossed fun little solos out in between each verse. Plus, I kinda loved that the man who could conjure horror stories like “The Gun” and “The Blue Mask” could still also do this.

It wasn’t what I what I wanted for every Lou Reed song — he tried a similar approach with his “Hot Hips” song on the Perfect soundtrack, and I made fun of it by calling it “I Love You, Jamie Lee” — but this song has always zipped right past my defenses and straight into my heart. I love you, “I Love You, Suzanne.”

“I Love You, Suzanne” official video

“I Love You, Suzanne” performed live in 1984 (w/ Robert Quine!)

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2 Responses to “Certain Songs #978: Lou Reed – “I Love You, Suzanne””

  1. Ira Brooker says:

    Much as I love “New Sensations,” I’ve always felt that it opens super weak and builds from there. But then I had the benefit of approaching the Lou Reed catalog mostly in hindsight (“Set the Twilight Reeling” was the first new Lou release I was old/aware enough to purchase), so the startling tonal shift between this and his prior work didn’t strike me as much at the time.

    I can’t argue about “Hot Hips,” though. That might get my vote as the worst song Lou Reed ever recorded, give or take some of those “The Raven” skits.

  2. Jim Connelly says:

    As you’ll see, I think NEW SENSATIONS peaks in the middle.

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