In May of 1966, The Velvet Underground – Lou Reed, John Cale, Maureen Tucker, Sterling Morrison, and Andy Warhol – entered TTG Studios in Hollywood and emerged with this:
I try – I really do try – not to be pedantic, dictatorial and pushy when it comes to music, but sometimes I can’t help it. This is one of those times.
It’s for your own good.
Did you not watch the clip above? Do you not care how I feel about you? Do you really want to go to your grave not having listened to a song so strange and rare that it will transport you to another universe? Do you want to deprive yourself of five minutes and fourteen seconds which will improve your life?
Go back and listen. I’ll wait.
There. Did you do it? Good. You’ll thank me one day.
Remember: I said a “better” world – not necessarily a more cheerful one – for that, you’ve got “Walking On Sunshine” and “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”
What happened on that day in May 47 years ago?
How did John Cale’s monotone viola collide with Lou Reed’s “ostrich guitar” (all strings tuned to the same note) with Morrison’s guitar and Tucker’s drums – with Warhol as producer/ringmaster – to create a song like that?
“Venus In Furs” has been covered 20 plus times by everyone from Beck to The Smashing Pumpkins to Hugh Cornwall (The Stranglers) to The Creatures (Siouxsie Sioux), and while they are all lovely tributes, they can’t hope to recreate the glorious collision of the original.
If Warhol had never painted a single soup can…
…if Lou Reed hadn’t penned the line, “Vicious, you hit me with a flower,”…
…this song alone would still assure them a place in the pantheon of things that elevate us above the beasts of the field.