apologizing to rik in advance, i'm going to do to the velvet underground what lately i've done to springsteen and michelangelo. let me make a few methodological remarks. if you really like the music of springsteen, let's say, you might actually feel personally insulted when i leave it at 'sucks.' however, he is not you. maybe i sound angry, and in some ways universal adoration for stuff i think is bad does rather irritate me. but i just say: let's play! i'm gonna formulate my attack in the sharpest or even most extreme way i can; ok come back at me! dude i listen to country music. attack! this is more or less what art is for, so we can all yell at each other. i definitely grew up in a high fidelity world. my brothers were all complete pop music fanatics, archivists, etc. we'd spend whole nights just wrangling about the the or whatever. so i just think this kind of thing is fun.
plus, note the sort of people that i'm always emperorsnewpantsing. it's people whose gigantical hugeness actually puts them above criticism. (i should make a list: oh you know beatles, wittgenstein, dylan, picasso, michelangelo.) now i think that these sorts of reputations do not necessarily arise by genius standing the test of time, but rather by (a) stampede of the usual human sort, and (b) the fact that a big enough reputation stupefies and intimidates people; only an idiot would say ulysses was jive, so if you do not want to appear to be an idiot, you don't say it. but it would take thousands of me working for decades even to corrode the solid-gold plating slightly. so i don't see as saying what i actually think could harm anyone or anything, while it might interrupt our annoying worship of others of our own species.
to vu, certainly one of the most idolized groups in rock history. now, what exactly was good about them? maybe lou reed or nico could really sing? oops lou wasn't exacty otis redding. maybe they played the shit out of those instruments, like the yardbirds or something. not exactly. they were opposed to melody in all its pernicious forms, preferring extreme monotony, which i guess could be an aesthetic, as long as i am not required to listen to it. no one who has available a martha reeves and vandellas song and a velvet underground cover of that song could rationally put the velvets' version on the turntable.
let me put it like this: the point simply could not have been the music, which is incompetently performed and extremely boring. the point is the cultural liberation they represented, and then their influence on punk. i can see how it might be important for many kids of the era to suddenly see gayish people onstage, so i'll give them that. but in my opinion, the aspects of 60s/70s culture they represented were precisely those that made the whole social transformation of the era essentially meaningless: mindless hedonism pursued to the point of total annihilation. you thought you were helping to liberate humanity from its narrow strictures and doing something important. i say you just fucked everybody and did all the drugs because you wanted to, in a total commitment to narcissistic self-indulgence and the destruction of oneself and others. really i would say that the notion that having anal sex with everybody was going to redeem the world was probably not the most plausible political philosophy in western intellectual history, inspiring though it is. it's all heroin and lou reed taking a dump on someone during an eightball orgy (see please kill me). millions of people all over the world reacted like that was what freedom meant, though one might with as much plausibilty say it is what unfreedom means. thousands of people are dead because they thought this sounded like a good idea. i don't blame the velvet underground; i blame the bad taste of the deceased. it doesn't help that i kept having to see lou reed in the '80s and writing it up. these may have been the very worst gigs i ever witnessed; he fucking despised the audiences for adoring him, which i admit is rational. you think he's deep and changed everything. i think he's a completely uninteresting lout, and that that is exactly what every one of his records represents.
typical tuneless, meaningless, interminable crap: