A Hand Me Down Dress From Who Knows Where

I like this photo of the early incarnation of The Velvet Underground, mainly because it’s in colour. The banana period Velvets are usually in stark black and white, occasionally with some of Andy Warhol’s silver balloons. This picture punctures that and makes them something else.

This song is almost without equal. Not just in their back catalogue but in anyone’s. It’s so out there- the drone and detuned piano are woozy and discordant, the guitar is scratchy and spindly, the drum thuds and then there’s Nico’s double tracked vocal, the blank and sneery lyrics about a party girl. Lyrics sung behind her back, straight out of Warhol’s amphetamine psychosis Factory. Jon Savage describes it as coming at the listener sideways which makes sense. Why they released as a single in 1966 makes little sense at all, other than as a statement of ‘they’ll never play this on the radio’.

All Tomorrow’s Parties

In 2006 John Cale said “The song was about a girl called Darryl, a beautiful petite blonde with three kids, two of whom were taken away from her.” which makes it human and sad.

It’s a song that almost dares bands to cover it, inviting them into the trap, taunting them. Japan got away with it, adding synths, neon and pastels and some drama.

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