Have you ever shoved a banana in your mouth, put on your shortest cutoff denim jeans and went roller skating on a bike path, secretly hoping you would get felt up but acting aloof and like you wanted to be somewhere else? Of course you have, so have I.
…and that is a perfect segue into the album I want to discuss today. Velvet Underground’s debut The Velvet Underground and Nico. Speaking of titles, I just got a text message from my cousin this afternoon that read, “Just saw you called, I was taking a nap before his circumcision.” I think that would be a good alternate title for this album or any other album ever for that matter—or script for one of those sweet inspirational tattoos.
Get to the music you stupid, stupid asshole!
O.k., there is probably not much to be said about this album that has not been said already. The cover alone is one of the most iconic of all time and I often place it around my room just so I can look at it more. The L.P. starts off, which I always found a bit surprising, with a very slow, low key and melodic track, but then again much of what Lou Reed has done throughout his career is unpredictable, so the precedent was set very early. The A-side has two of my favorite VU songs ever, Waiting for the Man, and Run, Run, Run. I have heard both covered several times and they never measure up to the original, in my opinion. I find the guitar on the album version of Run, Run, Run super intense, unique and ahead of its time.
The VU were certainly ahead of their time and it seemed to me that about 10 or 15 years ago you couldn’t turn on an indie radio station without hearing some new band blatantly ripping them off.
Heroin is a haunting song; I remember as a kid hearing it in Oliver Stone’s The Doors movie and wondering what it was and who made it. I then dug out my dad’s best of the Underground C.D. but I wasn’t ready for them yet. I hope I am now, anyway hear is that track.
I, like many, many others love this album all the way through and what’s great is I like there next one, White Light, White Heat even better. We will discuss that one another time. I have heard the VU called heroin music, but I think that is very reductive and a very narrow view of such a great experiment in music making history.
Then again, I have wondered before if all the best, and by the best I mean my favorite, music was birthed from heroin. Lou Reed, The White Album, Nirvana, Coltrane, and the list goes on and on. Maybe I’ll go try to score some and write you all an album. Nah, but we all know I already have a GREAT title. I never considered doing smack but of course I muse about how it would feel. Probably the closet I have come is when I went jogging three miles with diarrhea and the feeling and relief I got when I made it back to the toilet and released, it felt just like being back in the womb.
I have to say to you I do not subscribe to the theory that you have to use heroin to make the best music, you can do wonders with L.S.D. and malt liquor.