This song covers a variety of topics but the main one has to do with Communism. Lou Reed was and is today an avid supporter of choice, hence all the mentions of choice and choosing. Some of the failed attempts at Communism are mentioned as well. When Reed says, "To the cozy brown snow of the east" and "Not a ghost bloodied country," these are blatant references to Russia and the USSR. Reed was trying to say that Communism will never and should never exist in a modern-day society. (This analysis was completed by Matt Skaroff and Colin Rementer)
According to The Velvet Underground: An Illustrated History of a Walk on the Wild Side
, this song, written by Lou Reed and John Cale, features Cale on the electric viola, showing his John Cage influence and drone/noise style. Here his dissonant notes weave around the song like a buzzing mosquito, almost harassing it. Those bursts of audio feedback are also provided by Cale, who simply blew into the microphone at punctuated intervals.
"The Black Angel's Death Song" was one of four songs recorded in July 1965 for the still-forming group's first demo tape. They were inspired at the time by recordings which Cale had brought back from a trip to the UK, by groups such as The Who and The Kinks.
The Velvet Underground's original drummer was Angus MacLise, a neighbor of Cale's who sometimes played drums with the Theater of Eternal Music. Shortly after recording the demo session that included this song, MacLise quit the group, who was an idealistic purist who disliked the idea of being paid to play music or of having to keep a schedule. He was replaced by Maureen "Moe" Tucker, and the rest is history.
The The Velvet Underground & Nico album was partly recorded at the run-down Scepter Recording Studio, on West 54th Street, financed by Warhol and bankrolled in part by Columbia Records sales executive Norman Dolph. Dolph also served as engineer, along with John Licata. The rest of the album was recorded in T.T.G. Studios in Hollywood, California with engineer Omi Haden.
The Black Angels, a psychedelic rock band from Austin, Texas which formed in 2004, derived their name from this song. This echoes the most famous quote about the Velvet Underground, "Only five thousand people ever bought a Velvet Underground album, but every single one of them started a band."