On 17 July 1988, the German singer-songwriter Nico was in Ibiza suffering from a bad headache. Despite the blistering heat, she decided to cycle into town in search of cannabis, hoping it would relieve the pain, but as she rode she suffered the brain haemorrhage that killed her. In her 49 years, she’d lived many lifetimes. She had been a model for Coco Chanel in the 1950s, acted for Fellini, sung with The Velvet Underground, and become a raw and uncompromising solo artist. Yet when the news reached the papers, their focus was elsewhere. The headline in the Berliner Zeitung read: “Nico: Death of a Star from Berlin Reveals the Secret Love Drama of Alain Delon.”
Even in death, Nico’s story was framed in the context of one of the many famous men who drifted through her life. Delon was far from alone: Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Jim Morrison and Iggy Pop all fell for the statuesque beauty at one time or another, but her story is not their story. A new biography, You Are Beautiful and You Are Alone, named for a line in her 1970 track “Afraid”, makes clear what a driven, creative and fearlessly original artist she was. “This woman had such an interesting life,” says her biographer, Jennifer Otter Bickerdike. “I set out to write this book because I wanted to know more about her, and because I wanted to know what was actually true and what was myth, because there is so much mythology around her.”
Nico was born Christa Päffgen in Cologne on 16 October 1938, less than a month before the horrific attacks of Kristallnacht marked the escalation of violence against Jews in Nazi Germany. Her father, Wilhelm Päffgen, was recruited into the Wehrmacht and was killed in 1942. Her mother, Grete, worked in a factory making weapons. In her diary, years later, Nico recalled her attempts as a child to give food to the Jews who passed by her home as they were taken by train to Auschwitz. She wrote of the regularity with which she saw dead bodies lying along the sides of roads, and that she “refused to wash with soap made from human bones”.
It is little wonder, then, that Christa Päffgen wished to leave her childhood far behind. “I think she was ashamed her whole life,” says Bickerdike. “She was always trying to outrun her background, and always trying to figure out who she was.” Päffgen started modelling in 1953, at the age of 15. A young fashion photographer she worked with, Herbert Tobias, recommended she change her name to something more “international”. He suggested “Nico”, after a man he’d once loved in Paris, and she went by that name for the rest of her life. “I asked over 100 people who knew her if she ever said, ‘Call me Christa,’” says Bickerdike. “They all said no. It was always Nico.”
Nico’s beauty became her ticket out of Germany, a fact she felt conflicted about. She modelled for Vogue and Chanel in Paris, but resented her worth being reduced to her looks. Her break into the world of acting came in 1959 when, while in Rome with friends, she visited the set of Federico Fellini’s celebrity satire La Dolce Vita. Later, she recalled the visionary director’s first words to her: “I have dreamt of you. I recognise your face. You will look wonderful with candlelight. You must be a star in La Dolce Vita.” He wrote her a small but unforgettable role, and when she expressed concern about her lack of screen experience he reassured her by telling her she would be playing a model named Nico, a part with which she was by then already well familiar.
- Rap beefs, gang fights and dirty cops: who really killed Tupac and Biggie?
- Laura Mvula: ‘Black female artists? You’re at the bottom of the food chain’
- Sheryl Crow: ‘We’ve come a long way since the sexual harassment I endured during the Michael Jackson tour’
Following her successful appearance in the film, which became a record-breaking box office hit, Nico was cast in Purple Noon, a French adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley. After somehow managing to mix up the dates, Nico missed the start of filming and her part was recast. When she belatedly arrived, she began an affair with the leading man, Alain Delon – considered France’s answer to James Dean – and had a son, Ari. Although Delon has never accepted paternity, Ari was raised for much of his early life by Delon’s parents.
Nico continued to act and began singing in nightclubs, but it was La Dolce Vita that remained her calling card. Bob Dylan recognised Nico from the film when they met by chance in Paris in 1964, and she invited him to her apartment, where he stayed for “an evening and a week”. The pair holidayed together in Greece, where Dylan babysat Ari while she modelled. He also wrote most of his fourth record there, Another Side of Bob Dylan, as well as a song for Nico to sing called “I’ll Keep It With Mine”, which she said was “about me and my little baby”.
The following year, in May 1965, Nico introduced herself to Andy Warhol at the Parisian nightclub Castel. He too recognised her from La Dolce Vita and invited her to come and visit him at the Factory in New York. That autumn, Warhol announced he was leaving painting behind to focus on other projects, such as music. He was intrigued by an upstart New York band called The Velvet Underground, but found their singer Lou Reed lacking as a frontman. He offered to sign the group, but only if they agreed to work with Nico. Thus began an uneasy professional relationship.
“I really feel like there was a mass communication breakdown there,” says Bickerdike. “Nico thought: ‘This is my band, they’re backing me up.’ To be fair to her, all the advertisements of that time are written: ‘Nico + Velvet Underground’, or even just ‘Nico + band’. She was always the one being interviewed, so you can see how she would feel that way. Meanwhile, The Velvet Underground obviously wanted the Warhol stamp of approval, they wanted the space and the equipment, and they just saw Nico as something they had to deal with to get that.”
Enjoy unlimited access to 70 million ad-free songs and podcasts with Amazon Music Sign up now for a 30-day free trial
The tension between the group and their new chanteuse didn’t stop Reed and Nico from falling for each other. While staying at Nico’s apartment in Greenwich Village, Reed wrote “I’ll Be Your Mirror” for her – the title a sentiment she had once uttered to him. It became one of just three songs Reed allowed her to sing lead on for their 1967 debut record, The Velvet Underground & Nico, along with “Femme Fatale” and “All Tomorrow’s Parties”. Although the record was initially a flop, it has gone on to be regarded as one of the greatest albums ever made, with Nico’s breathy, melancholy vocals now seen as an integral part of its hugely influential sound.
That same year, Nico released her debut solo album, Chelsea Girl. Its title is a reference to Chelsea Girls, an experimental Warhol film in which she had starred in 1966. Making her own record gave Nico the opportunity to record the song Dylan had written for her, as well as tracks by Reed and his Velvet Underground bandmate John Cale. She also included three songs written by a then 18-year-old Jackson Browne, with whom she began a romance. Among the Browne songs she recorded was “These Days”, which may now be her most well-known solo track, thanks in part to a memorable inclusion in Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums. Nico, however, disliked the album’s chamber-folk production. “The first time I heard the album, I cried,” she said later, “and it was all because of the flute.”
At this point, already two albums into her musical career, Nico was not yet a songwriter. That changed in 1967 after she met and began a relationship with The Doors’ frontman Jim Morrison. Although their time together was tempestuous, it emboldened Nico to see herself as a creative artist in her own right. At Morrison’s encouragement she bought a harmonium so that she could write music and, importantly, accompany herself when she performed, so she was no longer shackled to backing guitarists. The first song she ever wrote, “Lawns of Dawns”, was inspired by a drug-fuelled all-night bender with Morrison in the Hollywood Hills. “I think Morrison was one of the few people that she could really open up and be herself around,” says Bickerdike. “She said at one point: ‘I hadn’t even thought that I could be an artist.’ The unlocking of that potential is so precious and so important. I’d say that probably other than Delon, that was the most important relationship she ever had because of what it empowered her to do.”
The result of that empowerment can be heard to startling effect on the trilogy of albums that followed. 1968’s The Marble Index, 1970’s Desertshore and 1974’s The End…, all of which were produced and arranged by John Cale, marked a radical departure from the sound of Chelsea Girl. Out went folky instrumentation and in came a dark, gothic sound built around Nico’s droning harmonium and mournful vocals. “It’s like alien music,” says Bickerdike. “There’s nothing like it. There’s nothing that sounds like it before and there’s nothing that sounds like it after.”
It was with these strange and often disquieting albums that Nico established herself without question as a significant artist and songwriter in her own right. While the records were avant garde and almost purposefully uncommercial, they were also inspirational, particularly on the Eighties goth and indie scenes. Morrissey and Siouxsie Sioux are among those who’ve raved about the albums, while Bauhaus’s Peter Murphy once remarked: “Nico was Mary Shelley Gothic; everyone else was Hammer Horror movie Gothic.”
In 1981, Nico played a show in Manchester and afterwards confessed to promoter Alan Wise that she had nowhere to go. He gave her a place to stay, beginning a seven-year period in which she lived predominantly in the city. While she was by now living with a serious heroin addiction, Wise’s stewardship helped her return to touring and recording. “To me, Manchester is the most interesting part of the book,” says Bickerdike. “You get a glimpse at who she could have been if she’d had management, if she’d had friends, if she’d had people who were around her for the person she was and not the persona she was.”
Even after years of research and hundreds of interviews with those who knew her subject, Bickerdike says she eventually came to accept the fact that to some degree the elusive, enigmatic figure at the centre of her book would remain unknowable. “Nobody will ever know the real Nico, and that’s the honest truth of the situation,” she says. “She wasn’t a big talker, even to her friends, and her diary is a pure stream of consciousness. What I tried to do is to present as close to a whole picture as I could of the human underneath the iconised mythology.”
You Are Beautiful and You Are Alone is an entertainingly written and insightful biography, which portrays Nico as a flawed but deeply compelling individual. While her life’s work has often been obscured by the long shadows cast by her famous lovers, Nico’s story is one of deep resilience and tenacity. From her very earliest years she was confronted with humanity at its darkest, and she channelled all of that rage and anguish into music that remains among the most raw and visceral ever recorded. She died a true artist, one who stared into the depths of her tortured soul and reflected it back at her audience with all the startling clarity of a mirror.
‘You Are Beautiful and You Are Alone: The Biography of Nico’ is out on 15 July
Delon was far from alone: Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Jim Morrison and Iggy Pop all fell for the statuesque beauty at one time or another, but her story is not their story.. It is little wonder, then, that Christa Päffgen wished to leave her childhood far behind.. “I think she was ashamed her whole life,” says Bickerdike.. He suggested “Nico”, after a man he’d once loved in Paris, and she went by that name for the rest of her life.. It was always Nico.”. He also wrote most of his fourth record there, Another Side of Bob Dylan, as well as a song for Nico to sing called “I’ll Keep It With Mine”, which she said was “about me and my little baby”.. He too recognised her from La Dolce Vita and invited her to come and visit him at the Factory in New York.. “Nico thought: ‘This is my band, they’re backing me up.’ To be fair to her, all the advertisements of that time are written: ‘Nico + Velvet Underground’, or even just ‘Nico + band’.. That same year, Nico released her debut solo album, Chelsea Girl.. Making her own record gave Nico the opportunity to record the song Dylan had written for her, as well as tracks by Reed and his Velvet Underground bandmate John Cale.. At this point, already two albums into her musical career, Nico was not yet a songwriter.. That changed in 1967 after she met and began a relationship with The Doors’ frontman Jim Morrison.. “It’s like alien music,” says Bickerdike.. “To me, Manchester is the most interesting part of the book,” says Bickerdike.. ‘You Are Beautiful and You Are Alone: The Biography of Nico’ is out on 15 July
That album was The Velvet Underground and Nico , a uniquely groundbreaking release from a band of artsy New York misfits and marketed by the creative whims of one of the most iconic figures of the time: Andy Warhol .. What would become the Velvet Underground started in 1964, when Reed met experimental instrumentalist John Cale and formed a band called The Primitives.. “Sunday Morning” features Lou Reed cooing in his most preciously girlie voice about “all the streets you cross not so long ago.” The song is a beautiful ode to paranoia (“Watch out—the world’s behind you”), and an early indicator that Reed was capable of remarkably simple melodicism that rivaled the more mainstream songwriters of the era while not directly emulating any of them.. Warhol had requested Reed write a dedication to Sedgwick specifically, and “Femme Fatale” would be the first of many Reed compositions inspired by personalities he’d met at Warhol’s Factory.. Despite Reed’s declaration that “if anybody played a blues lick [in the band], they would be fined,” “Run Run Run” sounds like Slim Harpo sitting in with a garage band, with a driving rhythm turned on its ear and driven dissonant with Morrison’s jagged leads and Reed’s abrasive solo.. The weight of Warhol’s image over the band came to be something that the Velvet Underground chafed against—especially after The Velvet Underground and Nico was released with the “produced by Andy Warhol” tag on the sleeve.. The Velvet Underground, of course, would release three more seminal albums, White Light/White Heat , their eponymous 1969 album, and 1970’s Loaded , before ultimately deteriorating (Cale would leave after White Light/White Heat and be replaced by Doug Yule; Reed and Morrison left the band after Loaded .)
Music fans know the band was closely associated with pop art icon Andy Warhol and his offbeat events, and that the album has influenced generations of musicians.. Or that Warhol didn't really produce the album?. I couldn't read and write music.. The original acetate recording of the Scepter Studios material, which includes several recordings that weren't included on the album, resurfaced at a New York flea market.. When it was released, the album was a flop.. There were few print reviews of the album, but in 1967, a small rock music magazine published , calling the music "a full-fledged attack on the ears and on the brain.". "Of course he didn't know anything about record production—but he didn't have to," .. As a result, the record label didn't interfere.. So why wouldn't I?. "There was a huge uncharted world there.. Reed used what he called the "ostrich" guitar tuning, where he tuned all of the guitar strings to the same note.. Lou Reed reportedly worked on some of the material while writing songs for a company called Pickwick Records.. "We used cheapish guitars," he later remembered in an interview .
Nico on the back cover of The Velvet Underground and Nico (Images: UMe)As the saying goes, when you have to choose between printing the fact and the legend, print the legend.. The lore in this case is that the few people who bought The Velvet Underground & Nico, released this month 55 years ago, went on to start their own bands.. The Velvet Underground The Velvet Underground & Nico, Verve Records 1967Nico was brought on board, and the production (credited to Andy Warhol, but disputed; many sources cite Dylan producer Tom Wilson as the actual person running the boards) came about over the course of 1966, but still there were no takers.. Whatever the case, The Velvet Underground & Nico came and went, and soon so did Nico from the group.. The album is full of great songs, many of which rotate in my mind as being the best on the album or of the band’s career.. The Velvets would continue sans Nico and Warhol, who were both out of the picture by the end of 1967, and release three more albums, none of which resembled the others, before Reed’s departure in 1970.
There was the I’ll Be Your Mirror compilation released last year, which had Michael Stipe, Courtney Barnett, and St. Vincent all contributing to the tracklist.. There was even an Argentinian cover album completed shortly after Beck’s own covers album.. were one of the major propagators of The Velvet Underground’s legacy throughout the 1980s, and they’ve notched quite a few covers of the band, including opening a number of their early shows with ‘Pale Blue Eyes’.. David Bowie was another famous fan, bringing Lou Reed into his orbit while the singer was aiming for a solo career throughout the ’70s.. Here are some of the best covers that continue to show the massive influence that The Velvet Underground and Nico has had on the world of music.. The impact of The Velvet Underground and Nico began to transcend genre as the album passed its 20th anniversary.. Any number of great Bowie performances of ‘I’m Waiting for the Man’ could be placed here, but his live version from Santa Monica in 1972 has just the right amount of glammed-out swagger.. Nico was an essential part of making The Velvet Underground and Nico such a distinct record.. The first truly perverse moment on The Velvet Underground and Nico comes on ‘Venus in Furs’ as the listener gets transported to the sex dungeon of bondage that makes up the song’s eerie setting.. Although it might seem like a cheap imitation to some, Casablancas is probably doing more to keep Reed’s legacy alive in the modern-day than anyone else in the music industry.. were to The Velvet Underground.. Industrial music can trace a pretty clear line back to the Velvets’ more metallic tones, and Clocks DVA paid tribute to this connection through their cover of ‘The Black Angel’s Death Song’.
As Jennifer Otter Bickerdike reports in her new biography of the singer, You Are Beautiful and You Are Alone (Hachette Books, $31) , Reed was annoyed when on several occasions Nico got bigger billing than the VU.. Nico sang with the band for less than two years, appearing on only one of its albums, but “that blond girl from La dolce vita ” would forever become “that blond girl from the Velvet Underground.” Nico’s solo music had little to do with the Velvets’ gritty, bluesy rock, but the band’s name kept gigs booked and the audiences coming in the door for the rest of her life, while the reality of her uncompromising musical explorations left booking agents furious and unprepared listeners perplexed and scared.. You Are Beautiful is stronger in the singer’s later years.. Bickerdike cites the astounding number of 1,200 shows between 1982 and 1988 alone.. The collaborators of her later career are less famous, more willing to chat, and more likely to be alive.. Apparently she fell in love with me. . . .. And there’s no doubt that collaborators, colleagues, critics, fans, and lovers said and did things to Nico that they simply wouldn’t have had she not been a famously beautiful woman—Lou Reed especially comes off as a serious asshole.. Even female music critics largely ignored the music to focus on Nico’s looks.. The chapter discussing the creation of Nico’s seminal, inarguable masterpiece The Marble Index is barely two pages long.. But her music is also untimely in Nietzsche’s sense—not merely ahead of its time, but of no time, out of time, unbound by periodicity or genre.. But isn’t every name a persona, and a shield crafted in response to trauma?. But it seems to me that these things aren’t really buried traumas so much as vivid realities, very much on Nico’s mind and in her diaries as well as her music.. A new biography of Nico is welcome, and adds useful details and interviews to the record, but I’m not sure there are new depths to find.
RF Paul Morrissey was with you the whole time?. So this was the one Andy made, with all these people talking about Bufferin, saying things like “I smoked Bufferin for quite a few years,” or whatever kind of thing they said in those movies.. We went back to New York the same day.. RF When you got back to New York, did Andy ask you how it went?. Now, even people who don’t know Andy Warhol know Andy Warhol—the fact that he’s famous, that’s enough for them.. I didn’t even know what movies were after I worked for Andy Warhol.. AM I didn’t even know what the movies were after I worked for Andy Warhol.. RF Had Andy seen you in films?
Susanna Nicchiarelli’s affecting new movie, Nico, 1988 , seeks to reframe Nico’s story, focusing not on the heady days of the Velvets and Andy Warhol’s Factory but instead on the last few years before the singer died at the age of 49.. The truth—inconvenient to stories about Reed’s genius and Cale’s pioneering vision—is that in the music industry of 1966, the Velvet Underground might never have gotten signed without Nico.. “I had a lover/I don’t think I’d risk another these days,” sings Nico, age 29.. And I asked for simplicity, and they covered it in flutes!. “She hated the fact that people thought she was beautiful … she was happy to be called ugly.”
Her father died in a concentration camp.. She was sent to school till she was 13 years old, then took a job selling lingerie.. After a year, her mother found her work as a model with a Berlin fashion house.. At 15 she was sent to the Isle of Ibiza on assignment and met the photographer who gave her the name Nico after a recently departed boyfriend of his, called Nico Papatakis.. Paris was her home for the next five years, with frequent holidays in Ibiza.. She made her very first recording with Serge Gainsbourg producing the title song Strip-Tease , but it was Juliette Gréco's version that was released instead.. Afterwards in Paris, Nico met Bob Dylan who urged her to pursue her career as singer and gave her a song: I'll Keep It with Mine , later recorded on the solo debut-album Chelsea Girl .. Her performances in those times were unforgettable experiences; her singing, her playing on the old Indian pump organ, almost in a mystical intensity, echoing around the mind of the listener.. She loved things that were part of that.. After nearly a decade's wait she released in 1985 a new album, Camera Obscura , once again produced by John Cale.. Nico is buried at the Grunewald Forest cemetery park in Berlin with her mother.. When you get off the bus there is a sign pointing in the direction of the cemetery.
Trine Dyrholm plays songwriter and composer Nico with an inquisitive weariness in “Nico, 1988,” director Susanna Nicchiarelli’s precise, piercing study of the star’s last years.Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures. The music made by the songwriter and composer Nico in the two decades after her brief association with the Velvet Underground tended toward drone and plod, toward a Teutonic bluntness and a gothic mournfulness, its beat as flat as her bleat.. On occasion, her work echoed the lullaby delicacy of the songs Lou Reed wrote for her, among them “Femme Fatale” and “I’ll Be Your Mirror.” But Nico’s work, as Nico would be the first to tell you, was not for everyone — which, of course, makes it mean all the more to those of us who love it.. “I’m very selective of my audience,” Trine Dyrholm’s Nico declares to an interviewer late in Nico, 1988 , writer-director Susanna Nicchiarelli’s precise, piercing study of the star’s last years.. Reed wrote for her the question “And what costume shall the poor girl wear to all tomorrow’s parties?” Nicchiarelli’s film, the rare biographical picture to advance a critical argument, insists that Nico, born Christa Päffgen, wore no costume: By the 1980s, a lifetime removed from her modeling career and the Factory scene, Nico and her art had become one.. Nico, 1988 shows us the star pouring all her pain and exuberance into music that she doesn’t care whether you take or leave.. She might insist that some acquaintances call her Christa, but she’s too Nico not to be Nico.. Like much of Nico’s music, Nicchiarelli’s film is a funeral march, trudging toward the oblivion hinted at by the title.. Most of Nico, 1988 takes place two years before its subject’s death, in 1986, when a now raven-haired Nico (played with an inquisitive weariness by the excellent Dyrholm) tours Europe with a band of amateur musicians desperate for gigs.. Nico asks to use the restroom, and then, alone, pulls out the microphone of the tape recorder she carries everywhere and studies the room’s ambiance.. At its best, Nicchiarelli’s film, which is based on accounts from people who knew Nico, summons up the presence of its subject, studying her behavior, allowing her her mysteries.. Later, crashing in the home of a booking agent who wouldn’t spring for a hotel for the band, Nico declares that she misses her son, the boy she had too young, before she’d had a chance to invent herself — before she had become Nico.. Having cleaned herself up, Nico at times seems to enjoy being Nico, and Dyrholm even dares a smile.. Nico, 1988 Written and directed by Susanna Nicchiarelli Magnolia Pictures. Opens August 1, Film Forum
As a result of believing in everything that David Bowie talked about and stood for, and his covers of Velvet Underground songs ‘I’m Waiting For The Man’ and ‘White Light White Heat’, I’d bought The Velvet Underground & Nico in late 1972 without hearing a note.. Ironically, there is a similarity to the presentation for The Velvet Underground & Nico’s 50th birthday celebrations, in Liverpool on May 26th, to be staged by John Cale, the band’s original violist, pianist and occasional singer, as Lou Reed and guitarist Sterling Morrison are no longer alive – likewise their singing German associate Nico – while drummer Mo Tucker is seemingly retired.. Written to order as a single after the record’s true producer Tom Wilson (as well as being the band’s de facto manager and benefactor Andy Warhol was on the record as a marketing device) couldn’t hear one, plus he wanted more material for model and ‘chanteuse’ (as she’s credited on the album) Nico, who he – alongside Warhol’s contingent – considered a more suitable front for the band.. The deceptive allure of ‘Sunday Morning’ was the sheep’s clothing for ‘I’m Waiting For The Man’, a primitive rocker that shows the Velvets’ original (i.e. before Nico arrived) intent, as a surly avant-garage band mixing Reed’s love of R&B and pop with Cale’s experimental classicism.. ‘I’m Waiting for the Man’ is also notable for being the sole Velvets song that Reed, Cale, Tucker and Nico all tackled solo.. Whoever sequenced The Velvet Underground & Nico felt it needed front-loading with ballads, which accounts for the placement of ‘Femme Fatale’, also suggested by Warhol, to give Nico more songs to sing.. Like ‘Sunday Morning’, ‘Femme Fatale’ showed Reed’s disciplined songwriting nous, his natural talent sharpened by gun-for-hire work at Pickwick Records before he formed the Velvets, where he mastered a succession of genres; though this ballad is not doo-wop, the foreground/background vocals show an awareness of the genre.. The album’s sequencing is spot on; after the slow, suspenseful agony of ‘Venus In Furs’, ‘Run Run Run’ was a rumble in the urban jungle (“You felt as if you were on the New York streets, living the song out,” Cale reckoned), or a runaway train of a song, riding the rails of 1950s hoodlum rock’n’roll and rhythm guitars straight out of Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry – “a chukka-chukka bluesy groove,” Cale added – while Reed and Morrison uncoiled serpentine guitars.. It was Warhol’s favourite Velvet Underground song, possibly because it was the song most inspired by his Factory crowd– the personalities, the drugs, the jaded smiles, the need for another high.. Reed wrote ‘There She Goes Again’ during his Pickwick era, and it’s the closest song to the genre-specific singles (released under band names such as The Roughnecks and The Primitives) that Reed wrote and recorded.. – why this song was passed over as a Velvets single is mystifying, except that it’s Reed singing, not blonde beauty Nico – the real reason Verve signed the band to begin with.. Nico’s favourite Velvets song, “of infinite desire, strangely tender for us,” said Cale, which she unwittingly inspired after she approached Reed after a show, saying, ‘Oh Lou, I’ll be your mirror.” Responding to this Germanic ‘ice maiden’, Reed found a level of emotional complexity that rivalled Nico’s own conflicted upbringing (growing up under Nazi rule, she experienced the breakdown of her soldier father, and then rape by an American GI), while falling for her romantically (as did Cale).. The song that got the Velvets banned from their New York residency at Greenwich Village’s Café Bizarre, ‘The Black Angel’s Death Song’ sprang from Reed’s lyrics, an onomatopoeic exercise – while studying English at Syracuse – in free expression ( Cut mouth bleeding razors / Forgetting the pain / Antiseptic remains cool goodbye / So you fly ) that is the closest Reed got to Dylan’s surreal metaphors – the reed’s slurring vocal style compounds the comparison.. I subsequently discovered he was Reed’s poetry professor, and that Reed had dedicated the track – the album’s longest, at nearly eight minutes – to Schwartz because it had the fewest words (Schwartz detested lyrics, calling them “disgusting” and “awful”.
He didn't want to be in a group, though, he thought it was fun to play music now and then whenever he felt like it; so Angus couldn't be the drummer though we were good friends.. They didn't know what was going on.. He thought it would be real nice - he always had the idea to do a media type thing with all types of films, with all possible ways to involve people.. If it was used I don't know what for.. I mean that's how the whole thing was worked on the first album: The Velvet Underground and Nico.. I don't have many of those either.. I don't know, perhaps.. There isn't much you can say about your own albums.. I don't know.. Now with the third album you have some people saying, "now they're on to Jesus.". I don't know.. It wasn't that at all.. I like some of the people in the group.. I thought some of the new songs you played last night have the potential to be good hits.
“I didn’t want to ask Will,” Nico muttered softly, Annabeth turned to him, eyes patient.. A few moments later Annabeth had cleared out her cabin and Nico was sitting on her bed, the few medical related things the Athena cabin had spread out on her bed.. Within seconds Annabeth was making an Iris message, but Nico didn’t understand why.. “Annabeth,” Reyna said, Nico couldn’t see her from his angle but he could hear her.. “Annabeth,” Reyna said.. The line cut off and Nico looked at Annabeth.. She found Nico asleep on Annabeth’s bed and went to him.. “Well,” Annabeth said.. “But why Nico?” Reyna wanted to know, the same thing Annabeth was still wondering.. “I was looking for Nico, Malcolm said he was in here.” Will closed the door behind him and walked across the room, sitting with Reyna and Annabeth at the table.. “Nico,” Annabeth said, and Nico jerked awake again.
It was as the manager of the New York-based group co-founded by singer-songwriter-guitarist Reed and Welsh bassist-violist John Cale — with Sterling Morrison playing guitar and bass alongside Maureen 'Mo' Tucker on drums — that Warhol ensured he was credited as the producer of their seminal debut album The Velvet Underground & Nico, featuring the contributions of the German-born singer who was another of his protegés.. Instead, these were handled by Columbia sales exec Norman Dolph and Scepter Records engineer John Licata before three of the songs were then re-recorded, others were remixed and another added by Verve staff producer Tom Wilson and engineer Ami Hadani.. "Of course, he didn't know anything about record production, but he didn't have to,” Lou Reed remarked when discussing Warhol's studio activities in an April 1989 Musician Magazine feature by Bill Flanagan.. In March and early April of the following year, at The Dom on St. Mark's Place between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, Norman Dolph DJ'ed at two Exploding Plastic Inevitable parties that featured Andy Warhol's films, as well as his Factoryites dancing to live performances by the Velvet Underground and Nico.. Norman Dolph recalls the control room housing a 24-input console and four-track Ampex half-inch machine, and there's a general consensus that Scepter Studios was in a fairly run-down condition at the time of the Velvet Underground & Nico sessions.. Cale and Reed told Licata they wanted to sound the way they did when they performed live, and he achieved that on the first pass of every song without ever having seen their live performance — and without getting any credit in the liner notes of the released record.”. "I think 'Heroin' was the last song we recorded, and it came as a complete surprise to me because, unlike most of the other material, I hadn't seen the group perform it live,” Norman Dolph recalls.. So named because he had first used this technique for the 1964 dance number 'The Ostrich' that he and John Cale recorded as members of a group called the Primitives, it consisted of Reed tuning every string to the same note to produce a drone that mirrored Cale's on the viola.. Dolph also confirms that, although John Cale and Lou Reed only agreed to Nico's involvement because Andy Warhol insisted on it, they didn't make this obvious to her in the studio.. Excluding the recording of 'There She Goes Again' that would end up on the released album, this contained nine of the 10 tracks recorded at Scepter: 'I'm Waiting For The Man', 'Femme Fatale', 'Venus In Furs' (based upon the sado-masochistic 19th Century novel of the same name), 'Run Run Run', 'All Tomorrow's Parties' (Warhol's favourite song on the album, describing some of the people who frequented his Factory), 'Heroin', 'I'll Be Your Mirror' (a Reed and Dolph favourite, inspired by Nico), 'The Black Angel's Death Song' and 'European Son', dedicated to poet Delmore Schwartz.. "They wanted to make an acetate for Columbia Records on the presumption that, this group was so hot and it's connection to Andy Warhol offered so much built-in PR, the company would snap it up in five seconds,” Norman Dolph explains.. Meanwhile, the Scepter recordings of 'Femme Fatale', 'Run Run Run', 'All Tomorrow's Parties', 'I'll Be Your Mirror' and 'The Black Angel's Death Song' were remixed, and in November of that same year, when Verve required a more commercial track to release as a single, Wilson took the band into New York's Mayfair Studios to cut 'Sunday Morning' with Nico singing the lead vocal.. The Velvet Underground & Nico acetate that Norman Dolph handed back to Andy Warhol after it was rejected by Columbia Records eventually went missing, and it only turned up in 2002 after a Canadian collector named Warren Hill bought it at a flea market in the Chelsea district of New York City... for 75 cents.
Eno was referring to the countless up-and-coming groups who were, at that time, either covering the Velvets’ songs or copping their sound, but there’s a deeper meaning to his observation as well: The Velvet Underground ’s music dared you to start thinking differently; to approach your life in a more creative way.. Since the main VU line-up was only together for less than five years (The Velvet Underground was christened in late 1965; Lou Reed left in August 1970), the 20 best Velvet Underground songs on our list include more than half their core catalogue – which didn’t make it any harder to narrow it down.. Think we’ve missed one of your best Velvet Underground songs?. Listen to the best of The Velvet Underground on Apple Music and Spotify , and scroll down for our 20 best Velvet Underground songs.. 17: ‘Here She Comes Now’ The outlier on the White Light/White Heat album, this is a brief, beautiful song with a mantra-like quality – the only notable Eastern influence among the many Velvet Underground songs.. It’s essentially one of their more good-natured Velvet Underground songs, though Reed darkened it considerably when he remade it on Street Hassle .. 14: ‘What Goes On’ ‘What Goes On’ is the closest thing to a straight-ahead pop song among all The Velvet Underground’s songs, featuring wall-to-wall hooks with the Yule-era band doing a friendlier version of the Cale-era line-up’s sound (with Tucker’s primal groove and the Vox Continental organ).. 13: ‘Femme Fatale’ Andy Warhol’s greatest contribution to The Velvet Underground may have been his suggestion that Reed write a song about Edie Sedgwick and call it ‘Femme Fatale’.. 10: ‘White Light/White Heat’ The second Velvet Underground album was by far their most extreme, and its title track, ‘White Light/White Heat’, was Reed’s ode to what was then his drug of choice.. After the first album’s gentle opener, ‘Sunday Morning’, this is the first rocker among Velvet Underground songs.. 8: ‘Rock & Roll’ ‘Rock & Roll’ is one of the only Velvet Underground songs that’s in danger of sounding overplayed by now.. 6: ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ The most heartbreaking of all Velvet Underground songs, ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ is about a long-ended love affair that the singer isn’t close to getting over and, according to Anthony DeCurtis’ biography on Reed, a true thing in the songwriter’s life at the time.. 2: ‘Sweet Jane’ ‘Sweet Jane’ is certainly a contender for one the best Velvet Underground song, but we couldn’t in good conscience put a song without Cale or Tucker in that slot.. For one thing, the sound of the band – with Cale’s viola circling around Reed and Sterling Morrison’s guitars, and Tucker adding the right percussive accents – was unlike anything else around, and the song builds to a frenetic peak three times.
Velvet Underground Honored By Michael Stipe, St. Vincent, Iggy Pop And Others On Stellar Tribute Album ›
Redferns“Anyone should be able to play these songs, that's what I like about them,” singer/guitarist/songwriter Lou Reed once told journalist David Fricke about his band the Velvet Underground's 1967 debut album The Velvet Underground and Nico .. As Anthony DeCurtis wrote in his 2017 biography of the late Reed : “Before the Velvet Underground and Nico, there was no such thing as underground or alternative rock.. Executive produced by the late Hal Wilner, the record features different generations of acclaimed alternative rock artists covering such memorable songs from the original VU debut as “Waiting for the Man,” “Heroin” “Femme Fatale” and “All Tomorrow’s Parties.” Its arrival comes as the Velvet Underground— Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, Maureen Tucker, Nico and Doug Yule—is the subject of an upcoming and much-anticipated documentary by Todd Haynes to air on Apple TV+.. It only feels right that the tribute album should feature Michael Stipe, as his former band R.E.M.. The German singer Nico's performance on the ballad “Femme Fatale” is truly unforgettable as one of the three songs from the first VU album that features her lead vocals.. Similar to Vile's version of “Run Run Run,” King Princess's take on “There She Goes Again” is bouncy and poppy as the song later builds up to a noisy and raucous finale; the charismatic yet deadpan singing of King Princess bears a striking similarity to Reed’s.. “I’ll Be Your Mirror” – Courtney Barnett
Despite the track is credited to The Velvet Underground, this could be actually John Cale only.. The 2002 2-CD Deluxe Edition offers same stereo mix as the 1996 remastered edition, the original mono mix, and the single versions of All Tomorrow's Parties , I'll Be Your Mirror (which doesn't fade), Sunday Morning (with brief additional intro studio chatter), and Femme Fatale .. 2 CD, A Walk With The Velvet Underground 5-CD.. 2 CD, and A Walk With The Velvet Underground 5-CD.. The 2014 The Velvet Underground | 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition version (2:56) is the original 1969 mix.. The 2014 The Velvet Underground | 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition version (2:25) is the original 1969 mix.. The 2014 The Velvet Underground | 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition version (3:27) is the original 1969 mix.. The 2014 The Velvet Underground | 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition version (5:14) is the original 1969 mix.. The 2014 The Velvet Underground | 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition version (2:13) is also the original 1969 mix.. The 2014 The Velvet Underground | 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition version (5:15) is also the original 1969 mix.. The 2014 The Velvet Underground | 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition version (6:33) is also the original 1969 mix.. It was credited as "unreleased version sung by Lou Reed".