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31 October 2011

Red Reed

Cheaply called “the Red Elvis”, American singer/actor Dean Reed pursued his beliefs in Marxism by moving to East Germany in 1973. Say what you will about him, he was sincere, but I could never quite understand how he managed to square away his passion for individualistic themes in his music, gazing a sympathetic eye to the lone, hard working cowboy, with the concept of collectivism, and thus on acute social dependency.

Personally, I think any fealty offered to Marxist-Leninism is misguided, requiring one to accept too many lies as a part of its’ stated virtues. Then again, I remember it first hand.

Here he is in an appearance in the DDR with a vieux copain, Phil Everly, who made what was in 1979, a historic visit. It was a sort of casually and quietly organized form of Ping Pong diplomacy, later to be tried by Bruce Springsteen in 1988.

While his voice was tender, and his craft good, in truth Reed was more of a curiosity to the world outside of the Warsaw Pact/Comecon/Soviet sphere than anything else. Within it, he grew to be a little like the Pepsi they sold in the eastern bloc: it was similarly packaged to the stuff they wanted, but slightly different in a way – only permitted to offer just so much, and no more.

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