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In The Velvet Underground Companion: Four Decades of Commentary, Lou Reed is quoted as explaining: "'Sister Ray' was done as a joke - no, not as a joke, but it has eight characters in it and this guy gets killed and nobody does anything. The situation is a bunch of drag queens taking some sailors home with them, shooting up on smack and having this orgy when the police appear."
Speaking of the guy who gets killed, you did hear the part in the third verse where the sailor gets shot and the only reaction is "Aw, you shouldn't do that; Don't you know you'll stain the carpet," didn't you? Just checking. This is Reed's sense of black humor, together with his storytelling skill honed during his early attempt at a writing career.
Also, pay attention to these lyrics and then meditate on this quote: "Andy shows movies and we f--k dogs on stage." - Lou Reed, 2003, in Steven Watson's Factory Made: Warhol and the Sixties. Does your mother know you listen to this stuff?
Of White Light/ White Heat, the album on which "Sister Ray" first appears, noted music journalist Lester Bangs said that his litmus test for telling a True Punk Rocker from a Poser(TM) was to pull White Light/ White Heat from their record collection and note if the grooves on the record showed signs of having been played.
In the category of "everyone who bought a Velvet Underground album started a band," we have the Buzzcocks, a UK punk band which formed as a result of placing an advertisement looking for musicians who could collaborate on "Sister ray."
Brad Smith of Blind Melon
The Blind Melon bassist/songwriter tells the story of "No Rain," which he wrote before the band was formed.
Webb talks about his classic songs "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Wichita Lineman" and "MacArthur Park."