Pale Blue Eyes

Album: The Velvet Underground (1969)
Play Video


  • "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.

Comments: 2

  • Arlette from Corona, CaAccording 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.
  • Tess from Ny, NyThe 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.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Harold Brown of War

Harold Brown of WarSongwriter Interviews

A founding member of the band War, Harold gives a first-person account of one of the most important periods in music history.


KissFact or Fiction

Kiss is the subject of many outlandish rumors - some of which happen to be true. See if you can spot the fakes.

N.W.A vs. the World

N.W.A vs. the WorldSong Writing

How the American gangsta rappers made history by getting banned in the UK.

Songs in Famous Movie Scenes: Tarantino Edition

Songs in Famous Movie Scenes: Tarantino EditionMusic Quiz

Whether he's splitting ears or burning Nazis, Quentin Tarantino uses memorable music in his films. See if you can match the song to the scene.

Lita Ford

Lita FordSongwriter Interviews

Lita talks about how they wrote songs in The Runaways, and how she feels about her biggest hit being written by somebody else.

Matt Sorum

Matt SorumSongwriter Interviews

When he joined Guns N' Roses in 1990, Matt helped them craft an orchestral sound; his mezzo fortes and pianissimos are all over "November Rain."