EDITION #2 – THE VELVET UNDERGROUND – THE VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO
Excerpt from Alex’s SFCC exclusive blog. Read the full version here
I will always remember the very first time I heard that absolutely stunning record. I was sleeping over at one of my friends’. His folks were out for the weekend, and we had the very clever idea of doing some house party. I was really enthusiastic about the prospect of seeing a girl I was fond of, who had told my friend she would come to our party… I was thrilled!
As we were very mature and serious 14-year-old party organizers (obviously), we had to keep some family furniture and other very-likely-to-be-broken stuff safe in my friend’s parents’ private room; pool table, huge TV (well… at the time, it was huge!), large speakers, a little bar (in which, to our great misfortune, all the bottles were being kept behind locked glass doors). It’s actually while looking for the bar keys that my eyes were opened by one of the most magnificent discoveries of all: a whole wall of bookshelves filled with a VERY VERY large collection of vinyls, standing there, alone, for me to lose myself in. From that moment on, every other thought I had about the party, the keys to the bar and even that wonderful girl who occupied my every thought totally disappeared, to leave place only for that newfound treasure of mine.
Standing in front of that Saint Grail, I delicately started flipping the records, picked some to look at, put aside some for further exploration… There were so many! I was totally amazed by all those albums jackets; so many artists I had never heard of, so many of my personal favorites, The Clash’s “Sandinista” triple album (What?!? Wow), the whole Rolling Stones discography, David Bowie, some punk classics, Public Image Limited’s Metal Box original (I should have stolen that one – not that I haven’t thought of it, but you’ll understand why I didn’t a little later! So keep on reading!)… My friend was laughing to see me so completely absorbed. He explained that his dad was a crazy music lover and that he was paying fortunes in special edition imports from the UK and that he was even traveling to New York City to buy some! I was in heaven…!
As I kept flipping and looking, I stumbled upon a vinyl with a very different artwork: a white jacket with a yellow banana painted on it, with “Andy Warhol” written underneath (which I thought was the name of the artist. At the time, as a 14-year-old, pop art wasn’t on the top of my priority list, obviously!) So I looked at the record from every angle and asked my friend if it was possible to listen to it. He wasn’t sure, but finally allowed me to put the needle on it after I promised to clean the after-party inevitable mess the next morning (which I did) and to give him some of the vodka I had. It was such a cheap bottle, I can’t believe we didn’t lose the use of our livers after drinking the “liquid”.
The moment I heard the very first notes of “Sunday Morning”, I was like: “WHAT?!? What is that?!?” It sounded like the soundtrack to a magical world. I was clearly not aware of the “adult” and drug-related themes when I first listened to what I felt was the most beautiful and uplifting noises I had ever heard! I probably listened to the album 3-4 times in a row, to the extent where my friend told me to stop because his father would know we listened to it. I was completely fascinated, hooked to it all. I wanted to know everything about that Andy Warhol dude making such incredible music! (Yes, it took me further researches to figure a few things out, such as the fact that the band was The Velvet Underground!)
The party being in full motion, I wasn’t able to stop talking about that Andy Warhol guy. My friend told me to shut up with that, as he didn’t want people to converge massively to his dad’s “playroom” (he had plans for that place later that night, and they didn’t include Andy Warhol!) The people who remembered the party probably thought I was a crazy pop art fan talking about Warhol all night! Others thought I was totally out of it saying “Heroin” was the greatest thing ever. Nobody understood I was talking about the song, which I initially thought was about a female hero. Well… In a way, I wasn’t that far off if you push the reflection and analysis further!