Jan. 28, 2008
The Velvet Underground - Venus In Furs Psychedelic Sunday has been a weekly feature in my blog for just over two years, but I didn't spotlight anything from The Velvet Underground until November of 2007. What was I smokin'? Each of the eleven songs included on that album deserves a separate post! Venus In Furs is the fourth song on The Velvet Underground & Nico, a groundbreaking 1967debut album from the band. The song was written by Lou Reed with inspiration from Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's book of the same name. I've never read the book, but apparently it's about kinky stuff like bondage and sadomasochism. Mistress Nat would approve. Originally recorded by band members Lou Reed, John Cale and Sterling Morrison in their NYC loft in July 1965, the song was rearranged for the album cut, and, according to rock critic David Fricke, the final version is a "stark, Olde English-style folk lament." To be sure, the tempo is rather dirge-like, and the lyrics contain masochism references (shiny, shiny, shiny boots of leather; whiplash girlchild in the dark; clubs and bells, your servant, dont forsake him; strike, dear mistress, and cure his heart.) Cale's viola wails in the song and gives it that sinister flavor, and Reed plays a guitar with all of its strings tuned to the same note. There is a heartbeat-like thump of a bass drum throughout, and very simple tambourine beat keeps the pace. This is a classic "head" music for me, meant to be heard in a darkened room when I'm in just the right mood. The song remains beloved by music fans and has been covered by everyone from The Melvins to Smashing Pumpkins to Bettie Serveert. Oliver Stone used it as background music in a scene in that awful Doors movie (clip here.) Why? Well, not only 'cuz it's a cool song, but because of the Andy Warhol link. Warhol, of course, did that famous cover. As memorable and distinctive as that cover is, I still don't get the banana.