Rewind Button 13 – The Velvet Underground & Nico

The Rewind Button is a group blogging project instigated by Rachel Tynan. As part of her New Year’s Resolutions for 2012, she set out to listen to Rolling Stone’s top 50 albums of all time. Rebecca Stevenson thought it would be fun if a group of bloggers listened to the same albums at the same time, then posted their reactions. The Rewind Button is the group of bloggers who are going through the Top 40 and posting about a new album every ThursdayThis is album is 13/40.

Once again, I am baffled as to how I have lived this long without listening to this album.

Here’s how I listened to this album: on an iPod, walking around South Cambie in Vancouver to run some errands, then I continued listening to it at home on my cheap iPod dock thingy. When the song “Heroin” was on I walked past a protest. At one point I wasn’t sure if the drums were from my music or the pot drumming mob. It seemed fitting.

Things that stood out:

  • The voices. His sounded like a junkie Bob Dylan. Her’s reminded me of an indie movie – some scene where the protagonist, a poet or a musician who is misunderstood, is traveling by bus with their head against the window as prairies pass by in the background.
  • As I listened to the music without being aware of the song titles I was shocked by the line “I feel like I’m a man/ When I put a spike into my veins.” Jesus! I thought. Not very subtle. The song is called Heroin. Nope, not subtle at all. Apparently the V.U. has said their intention to show the sad side of heroin, but some fans thought they were endorsing it.
  • Some of the songs go on and on like a garage band session on … like Heroin, for example. European Son was also too much for me to handle and I had to switch it to the next song before the jamming was over. I’m sorry – I’ve dated too many musicians and spent too much time in garages listening to songs slowly unravel to appreciate The Velvet Underground’s songs over 5 minutes long.

Things I learned after listening to the album that are interesting:

  • Andy Warhol was their mentor and manager – hence the album cover. I’d always wondered how they got the rights to use that image.
  • The female voice is that of Nico, part of Warhol’s Factory family. She was a model, actor and singer/musician. She was born in Germany. This explains her voice: I originally thought she had a speech impediment or that she’d once been deaf.
  • When it first came out the album had a peel off cover on top of the banana that revealed a flesh colored banana. To remind us of a penis, right? Oh, Andy Warhol.

Will I listen again?

  • Sure. Nico’s voice has grown on me, so has junkie Bob Dylan’s (Lou Reed)

Other Rewind Button reviews of this album can be found Here, Here, Here, Here, Here and I think there are others soon to come.

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