Dusting 'Em Off
Revisiting an album, a film, or an event on its anniversary

The Genius of The Velvet Underground & Nico: Artists Reveal Their Favorite Aspects of the Classic Album

on March 25, 2017, 12:00am
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The Sounds and Textures

Tom Krell of How to Dress Well

This record taught me more than I could possibly explain in just a few words. In a way, I’ve been trying to explain what this record sounds like and means across my whole career. From song to song, the lyrics move from pure and tender love to twisted and exciting and devastating desire; they move in turn from a description of objects in the world and people in cities to pure autobiographical phenomenology of affect and intoxication.

They appear as pure pop, formally speaking (thanks to Reed’s conciseness and Nico’s beautiful voice), yet always underpinned and sometimes even completely blown apart by textures and sound qua physical reality (Cale’s contributions are so damn amazing). Some journalist recently told me that my dream of making pop music that is not merely populist was just that — a dream, something that could never exist in reality. Luckily, I could just point to this record and tell them to go back to their desk while I keep trying to make music the right way.

how to dress well killian young 6 The Genius of The Velvet Underground & Nico: Artists Reveal Their Favorite Aspects of the Classic Album

How to Dress Well (Photo by Killian Young)

Kevin Martin, a.k.a. The Bug

The combination of Cale’s wonderful din and Reed’s gutter tales added the friction I’ve subsequently come to covet in most areas of music and art. At that time, I was all about noise, antagonism, and the post-punk “fuck you” so beloved of PiL, The Fall, and The Birthday Party, all of whom probably also worshiped at the same altar of VU. But as time passed and I finally accepted an opening for melody in my life, I came to realize the most perversely brilliant music of all combines sugar and spice, noise and harmony, sick sonics and earworm hooks. The Velvet Underground & Nico epitomizes that swoon and crash.

James Hoare of Ultimate Painting

I first heard The Velvet Underground & Nico when I was a teenager. Immediately, I knew it was something special, some kind of connection. Over the next few years, I subconsciously based my whole guitar style on the intro of “I’ll Be Your Mirror” and the rhythm playing on “Run Run Run”. From a recording standpoint, I still attempt to get my guitar to sound like Sterling Morrison and Lou Reed’s on that LP. And it never quite does.

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