Jerry Reed, 1937-2008

I need to take time to comment on the death from emphysema yesterday of country music legend Jerry Reed. He was 71.

I was never what you would call a huge fan of Reed. Like a lot of people my age, I remember him best from the Smokey and the Bandit movies with Burt Reynolds. He played Cletus “Snowman” Snow and sang the title track, “Eastbound and Down.”

I also remember Reed’s string of hits through the 70’s, mostly because my uncle used to play them constantly. For a time, I don’t think I could go to his house without hearing songs such as “When You're Hot, You're Hot,” “East Bound and Down,” and “The Bird.”

For some reason, though, the song that stands out in my mind and always reminds me of my uncle and being at his house as a kid, is “Amos Moses.” My uncle, of course, was nothing like the one-armed alligator poacher who could “eat his weight in groceries” and was named “after a man of the cloth.” On the rare occasions these days when I hear “Amos Moses” it never fails to take me back to when I was eight years old and up to some sort of mischief with my younger cousins.

As time passed, Reed’s musical career took a backseat to his acting ambitions. Besides co-starring in all three “Bandit” movies, he also appeared in Hot Stuff, The Survivors, Bat 21, and The Waterboy, to name just a couple. Reed never entirely disappeared, however: In 1998, Primus covered “Amos Moses” on their Rhinoplasty EP. That same year, Reed teamed up with Waylon Jennings, Mel Tillis, and Bobby Bare in the group Old Dogs. They recorded one album, Old Dogs. (CMT.com has a full Reed biography.)

“For 50 years, all I’d done was take, take, take,” Reed told the Nashville Tennessean in an interview last year. “I decided from now on it is going to be giving. And I’m way behind. We’re all way behind. We live this life like what’s down here is what it’s all about. We’re temporary, son, like a wisp of smoke.”

Amos Moses.mp3
East Bound and Down.mp3

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