European Son

Album: The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967)

Songfacts®:

  • Lou Reed dedicated this song to Delmore Schwartz, who taught Reed at Syracuse University. The song is over 7 minutes long, but there are no lyrics after the first minute. This is in tribute to Schwartz, who spoke of hating lyrics in rock songs. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Clint - Mount Vernon, MO
  • According to The Velvet Underground: An Illustrated History of a Walk on the Wild Side, as the last track on the album, this song looks forward stylistically to their next album, White Light/White Heat, and its proto-punkish free-form improvisations. Oh, and that loud crash after the opening vocals? That would be John Cale smashing a stack of dishes with a metal chair!
  • The Velvet Underground always seemed to run into bad luck. One of the things that doomed The Velvet Underground and Nico to short sales was that it was released in March of 1967... count three months forward and The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

    Speaking of The Beatles, they, too, had experimented with the drone sound: witness "Tomorrow Never Knows" and "She Said She Said" from their album Revolver.

    Another competing band was Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. The album The Velvet Underground and Nico was finished and waiting to be released by early 1966, but Verve Records held it back in favor of releasing Zappa and the Mother's Freak Out! This provoked guitarist Sterling Morrison into spending the rest of his life complaining about Zappa, sneeringly lumping him in with "that hippie music," along with other acts like Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead. This is ironic, considering that Zappa himself also hated the hippie scene, and in fact was mocking it the entire time the way he later would parody other musical genres.

Comments: 1

  • Arlette from Corona, CaSpeaking of Zappa, it's kind of ironic that Lou Reed would be the one to induct him.
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