Why Don't You Smile

Album: Single Release Only (1965)
  • songfacts ®
  • In late 1964 singer/guitarist Lou Reed, who had performed with a few short-lived garage bands and had worked as a songwriter for Pickwick Records, met John Cale, a Welshman who had moved to the United States to study classical music. Cale was pleased to discover Reed's experimentalist tendencies were similar to his own and the pair rehearsed and performed together. Their partnership steered the early direction of what would become the highly influential rock band, Velvet Underground.
    This moody, mod-flavored rocker was the first song they wrote together. Cale told Uncut magazine April 2010: "It's all 'Louie Louie' changes, and the first song that Lou and I wrote, one drunken evening. It was the b-side of a single by friends of Lou's. It was my first rock 'n' roll session and the guys were all popping pills. It was my introduction to collaborative song writing. It had a simple beauty that gave absolutely no indication of the problems we would have later."
  • The song was recorded on the B-side of All Night Workers northern soul single "Don't Put All Your Eggs In One Basket," which was a regional hit in a few areas. The All Night Workers featured Otis Smith with Lloyd Baskin and Mike Esposito, who were Syracuse-area buddies of Lou Reed. Baskin went later on to Seatrain, and Esposito went to the Blue Magoos. It is not known if Cale or Reed played on the single.
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