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Pale Blue Eyes


The Velvet Underground

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"Pale Blue Eyes," written by Lou Reed, is the fourth track from side A of The Velvet Underground, the group's third album. Lou Reed is quoted about this album: "I really didn’t think we should make another White Light/White Heat. I thought it would be a terrible mistake, and I really believed that. I thought we had to demonstrate the other side of us. Otherwise, we would become this one-dimensional thing, and that had to be avoided at all costs." "Pale Blue Eyes" is practically the exhibit-A of this statement. It's calm, relaxing, almost a lullaby. And it's simply a sweet love tune, as opposed to the violent lyrics and drug-soaked imagery of previous efforts.
Guitarist Sterling Morrison is often quoted as calling this album "the closet mix" because it sounds like it was recorded in a closet. But really, the mix actually does songs like "Pale Blue Eyes" justice. It sounds more private and intimate, tailored to the subject matter.
In The Velvet Underground: An Illustrated History of a Walk on the Wild Side, Sterling Morrison gives his take on this period of the band's history: "[John] Cale's departure allowed Lou Reed's sensitive, meaningful side to hold sway. Why do you think 'Pale Blue Eyes' happened on the third album, with Cale out of there? That's a song about Lou's old girlfriend in Syracuse [University]. I said, 'Lou, if I wrote a song like that, I wouldn't make you play it.' My position on that album was one of acquiescence."
Orange Juice frontman Edwyn Collins and Bourgie Bourgie vocalist Paul Quinn recorded a duet version, which peaked at #72 in the UK in August 1984. The Glasgow pair were classmates between the ages of 11 and 15.
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Comments (2):

According to Wikipedia, " 'Pale Blue Eyes' - along with a number of Reed's other songs - was inspired by his college sweetheart and muse, Shelly Albin, who indeed had pale blue eyes."

I think this song is one of the simplest and most intimate songs of the Velvet Underground possibly because of Cale's absence.
- Arlette, Corona, CA
The Kills made a version of this song for the Levi's Pioneer Sessions: 2010 Revival Recordings, which includes new versions of songs from influential bands and singers that inspired the sound of today's pioneering musicians of different genres.
- Tess, NY, NY
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