The Spiral:The Velvet Underground

I’m glad to see you wanted to follow me down the rabbit hole. Or maybe this is a rat hole. . .

Now – take the plunge, suckas.

Like all good things – I’m late to this game, too. I have had a track record, my whole life, for being a late bloomer. Except growing tits. I definitely did that shit first, before all the other girls. Oh boy. . . HAAAA HA HA maybe I’ll write about that misery sometime, too.

I’m going to preface this by stating that I have a bad case of the grass is greener a lot of the time. I so would have loved to be a young adult in the 60s, the 70s, or the 80s – and I feel that way a lot. Actually, my brother is going to build me a time machine, so, I might get to go back and see some of it for real.

The year is 1964. The place is the city so nice they name it twice. Enter four young musicians who are about to embark and a journey as part of a formative era of music – what we so lovingly know today as Pro-Punk. ❤

These 4 beauties who came together to form the Velvet Underground are:

  1. Lou Reed – Singer and Guitar Player
  2. John Cale – Multi-Instrumentalist
  3. Sterling Morrison – Lead Guitarist
  4. Angus MacLise – Drummer (though the following year he would be replaced by the lovely Mo Tucker)
The Velvets.jpg
Sterling Morrison, Mo Tucker, Lou Reed, John Cale

They were active for a couple of years creating a new form of Avant-Garde rock. Soon the were discovered and briefly managed by prominent pop-artist Andy Warhol (but more on him another time). Warhol featured the Velvet Underground as the house band at his Factory and on his installation tour – Exploding Plastic Inevitable. Warhol even went on to design their first album cover as seen in the image above this post.

They surfed through a couple of identities such as the Warlocks and the Falling Spikes before finally settling on the the Velvet Underground – borrowing the title from a booklet about the sexual subculture of the 1960s.

Velvet Nico
The Velvets & Nico

When they released their first album, The Velvet Underground & Nico, they fell into a legal battle because of an unauthorized image on the back of the album and had to compete with the Beatles release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Subsequently, only 30,000 copies were sold. Today you can easily pick one up on eBay for the low low price of $4,500. So. That’s what I want for Christmas. (Side note – my kick ass little brought bought me an AWESOME record player for this passed Christmas!)

(Just remember this a few posts from now – when the band finally fired Warhol – because he wasn’t branching out for them and booking them only for his museum and art tours – Warhol called Reed a “little rat”.)

In 1969, after the release of their second album, due to some creative differences, Lou Reed announced to the band that John Cale was to leave or the band was to dissolve. Thusly, exit John Cale and enter Doug Yule.

Now – there is a lot more history to this band and their dynamic, but you’ll just have to Google that for yourself to find out more. I just wanted to paint the picture of the creative beginnings because I just love that kind of thing!

Poster Show
Oooohhh I wish I could have gone. . .

Another item I’d really really like to get my hands on is a bootleg copy (since it only exists in bootleg) Angus MacLise filling in during a few shows towards the end of the Exploding Plastic Inevitable installation while Lou Reed was out due to illness from hepatitis.

There are still three living members of the band: John Cale, Doug Yule, and Mo Tucker. The other all passed due to tragic illness.

These guys are not for everyone, I get that, but they are for me. Like I mentioned here one day I will make a listacle of my future ex-husbands and Lou Reed is one of them.

To commemorate their 50th year, the Velvet Underground is releasing a bad ass box set this year. Limited copies, just $179.99. Yet another item I’d love to own. Hooray for being the poorest of white trash!

I hope if you didn’t know much about the Velvet Underground, your interested is piqued and you dig into that wonderful world. Another post I plan to present later on is some quintessential songs from the era of Proto-Punk.

Tune in next time for Andy Warhol!




The Spiral:Origins

Bathroom Sign
I LOVE gas masks. And tin signs. My brother got this for me a couple of years ago and it proudly hangs in my bathroom.

As I mentioned previously in this post, I love the Velvet Underground. Especially Pale Blue Eyes, which is the song in the post. Since the day I posted that, my gears have really been turning.

You see – recently I’ve been in a creative slump. By recently I mean for about 2 years or so. Through the course of events of my life I’ve gotten a little lost from myself. My sense of style, my sense of self, my affinities. . .

Yesterday afternoon I woke up (I’d been sleeping like the dead all night because I was quite sick) with that song stuck in my head and I couldn’t get it out. I had to figure out how to play it on my guitar, so I did a quick youtube search and found a pretty informative video on the rhythm guitar section of the song. For me it was informative, anyway. I own several guitars and have dabbled over the last 20 years or so, but I am by no stretch of the imagination a guitar player.

I learned a form of drop tuning that the Velvet Underground uses quite a lot, how to play the song (of course – which is actually quite simple I might add) and the guy in the video talked about Sterling Morrison’s lead guitar playing.

Now starts the spiral. . .

When we were first in college, my brother and I used to play this game with Wikipedia where we’d look something up we were interested in and then once we’d read the article, we’d click on a link to something referenced in the article. More on this process in the next post.

I am a curious person. I always have been. Therefore, whenever any little thing pops into my head, I have to look it up and read about it, hence my brain is full of a lot of useless knowledge that is only of interest to me as a whole (I’m sure that is not uncommon. . . ). I’ve had friends tell me that I’ve always got a “scientist fact” to add about whatever non-sense we are talking about.

Because of this – I’d like to do a little series for my reader(s) about what I’ve come across in this most recent delving.

Stay tuned for part 1 – The Velvet Underground.






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