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The Velvet Underground and Nico

February 26, 2015 by Garren Christopher Stamp   

So this week I didn’t have the time to buy a new record so im gonna review one of the records I’v had for awhile. I chose a record at random and got the Velvet underground and Nico. This is one of my favorite albums that I have. I am a big Lou Reed fan and for those who don’t know, before he went solo he was a lead singer of The Velvet Underground.

The Velvet Underground is an interesting band. They were closely associated to Andy Warhol and his Factory. The Factory was a huge building where Andy Warhol would produce his art. In order to inspire him Warhol invited people he deemed interesting. This usually included drug addicts, other artists, musicians, transsexuals, and drag queens. The house band for the Factory was actually the Velvet Underground. Lou and Andy became close throughout their time spent together. They were so close that Warhol actually designed the cover for this album. Also, Warhol asked Lou Reed to put Nico in the band.
Lou’s experience with the Factory heavily shaped his music. A lot of the songs he wrote had to do with drugs, cross-dressing, and sado-masakism, all things he witnessed and experienced at the factory. Because of Lou’s first hand experience and mass exposure to these things he was able to portray these things in an interesting and new light. He would often remain neutral, neither condemning nor condoning the behavior.
This neutral mentality is blatantly apparent in my favorite song off the album, “Heroin”. Lou Reed personally used heroin for a long time and it became an addiction that plagued him for a good portion of his life. Because of this he is able to speak first hand about the good and bad of heroin use. The songs lyrics portray the mind of an addict and how heroin is a release for him. The song starts off slower and more peaceful. This is supposed to represent the peace and calm that comes from shooting heroin. The song elevates to a peak. This is supposed to represent the rush associated with heroin. The rest of the song has periods of high intensity and low intensity supposed to represents the ups and down that come with drug use. The Lyrics themselves are quite depressing. During some of the lighter periods they demonstrate the hope and belief in the future and some of the harsher parts show a complete disregard for oneself and a belief that heroin will be the end of him and that he will forever be addicted to this drug.

I don’t know just where I’m going
But I’m gonna try for the kingdom, if I can
‘Cause it makes me feel like I’m a man
When I put a spike into my vein
And I’ll tell ya, things aren’t quite the same
When I’m rushing on my run
And I feel just like Jesus’ son
And I guess that I just don’t know
And I guess that I just don’t know
I have made the big decision
I’m gonna try to nullify my life
‘Cause when the blood begins to flow
When it shoots up the dropper’s neck
When I’m closing in on death
And you can’t help me now, you guys
And all you sweet girls with all your sweet talk
You can all go take a walk
And I guess that I just don’t know
And I guess that I just don’t know
I wish that I was born a thousand years ago
I wish that I’d sail the darkened seas
On a great big clipper ship
Going from this land here to that
In a sailor’s suit and cap
Away from the big city
Where a man can not be free
Of all of the evils of this town
And of himself, and those around
Oh, and I guess that I just don’t know
Oh, and I guess that I just don’t know
Heroin, be the death of me
Heroin, it’s my wife and it’s my life
Because a mainer to my vein
Leads to a center in my head
And then I’m better off and dead
Because when the smack begins to flow
I really don’t care anymore
About all the Jim-Jim’s in this town
And all the politicians makin’ crazy sounds
And everybody puttin’ everybody else down
And all the dead bodies piled up in mounds
‘Cause when the smack begins to flow
Then I really don’t care anymore
Ah, when the heroin is in my blood
And that blood is in my head
Then thank God that I’m as good as dead
Then thank your God that I’m not aware
And thank God that I just don’t care
And I guess I just don’t know
And I guess I just don’t know

Another good song off the album is “I’m Waiting for my Man”. This song is about the purchasing of drugs (most likely Heroin). The song reveals the dirty, clammy feeling of getting dope sick from the lack of having Heroin. It also shows the happiness and good feeling that comes with scoring and no longer feeling sick. My favorite line in the song is “feeling sick and dirty, more dead than alive”. This lyric shows just how bad even acute heroin withdrawal feels. I also like the line, “He’s never early, he’s always late. One thing you got to learn is you always have to wait.” This shows the anxiousness that comes with waiting to get Lou’s drugs, that he knows will make him feel better. The most revealing lyric is “ I’m feeling good, I’m feeling so fine, until tomorrow but thats just another time.” This shows how Lou Reed isn’t thinking about the future, he’s only worried about today. It also shows how this is a daily occurrence, this feeling dirty and sick feeling.



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