Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Big Tears

We all have our weaknesses, right? Mostly hidden, under-the-skin, behind-the-shades, no tickee, no talkie. I’m a self styled macho man, belying sensitivity, eschewing any and all qualities that might hint at the feminine, always stomping the ground in the No Tear Zone. What is it then about The Velvet Underground and Lou Reed’s early songwriting efforts at straightforward pop balladry, that just slices, dices, and wipes me out? When young/ambitious/Lou goes all poetic and maudlin, minor keys and strummy-strum, I just about break out in sobs and wanna run backwards into my childhood bedroom closet, hold onto my knees, scrunch my eyes closed, and rock slowly back and forth in forthright, contemplative solitude like some knee-socked, flaxen-haired, mixed-up shook-up, pre-flower child adolescent girl. Help me Rhonda, why does early/sincere/Lou elicit in my innards such a worrisome response? I dunno, I can’t explain, I’m simply not tuned in enough to my inner self (or outer idiocy) to even think about plunging somehow inward for those deep psychological reveals. I’m all surface baby, and digging it out there. Let me just roll out the handkerchief and bite manlike into a cigar and listen to Nico and Lou do the eternally killer Femme Fatale, or secret weapon Alejandro Escevedo do a to-die-for cover the Velvet’s Pale Blue Eyes with a goddam string quartet, or maybe trot out the ever sublime Sunday Morning. Somebody hide the absinthe from me, please.


mr. don of shaking said...

don't want to transgress, but let's give a little cred to john cale, that dark welshman who brought the viola and the modal minor keys to the mix. i'm with you though, without the velvets, i would have stuck with a.e.houseman instead of seeking out delmore schwartz,rimbaud,baudelaire and all that monkey business. i'll tell you what still kills me the most, "i'm beginning to see the light." know what i mean?

mdoggie said...

I don't know that Lou has ever moved me to tears but certainly the drone mode used so well by the Velvets has had an enormous appeal and influence. I actually listened to "Metal Machine Music".
I am still following John Cale, his contribution to the Velvets signature sound is often under appreciated.
I also rare treat to see Maureen Tucker perform in Minneapolis, I think at the art museum, sometime in the nineties. A fascinating mix of Velvet covers, originals, interspersed with stories of her life with the Velvets, working at Wal-Mart and being a grandma. Her bandmates appeared to be less than half her age.
My appreciation for Lou increased a notch recently. I think it was Moog who had just released a new guitar synthesizer and their website featured a video showing Lou Reed crouched on the floor totally immersed in playing with the contraption, beaming like a little kid and exclaiming how he just had to have one. That kind of enthusiasm cannot be faked.

Scotty D said...

I am indeed a John Cale guy, and have followed his whole career, even seen him live on a few occasions, but at the dawn of the Velvets, Lou was the predominate (or sole) songwriter, with John the Welshmaster, Sterling the Wonder Boy, and the lovely Ms. Tucker contributing ever so strongly to the overall sound, and it was Lou (and maybe a whole lotta drugs)that somehow mashed-up his own Brill Building aspirations with his wanna-be Delmore Shwartz fantasies through the filter of a neo-John Cage soundscape.