Monday, January 02, 2012

7. Velvet Underground, "Sweet Jane" (1970)


It's practically impossible by definition to pick a favorite Velvet Underground album but if forced I'm going with Loaded. There's a warmth and an unaffected and generous adolescence to it, looking forward to Mott-style glam, that never fails to catch me up. It's an odd affect, particularly coming at the tail end of their ride. It hardly hurts that it piles on upfront with one of the great rock anthems in "Sweet Jane," an allusive tale, supported by a nearly perfect array of acoustic guitar chords, about kids moving to the city and living their lives. In the right moment it is the thrill of a lifetime. I've talked before about how a person may aspire to master the phrasing of certain signature songs, enabling a kind of process of transubstantiation in order to actually become those beloved singers and songwriters (Buddy Holly and Prince), at least for the duration of the songs and one's ability to sing with them perfectly. I have long held strong suspicions that the same holds for Lou Reed and this one, but I have never managed (yet) to entirely duplicate the various asides and chortles and feints and dodges of his deceptive singing in the verses, not for lack of trying. It's a pleasure every time to hear, particularly when it gets down to the nitty-gritty, folksinger Lou Reed style. As loud as you can now: "And there's even some evil mothers / Well, they're gonna tell you that everything is just dirt / Y'know, that women never really faint / And that villains always blink their eyes / And that, y'know, children are the only ones who blush / And that life is just to die." P.S. Never mind the later metal versions of this, as on Rock n Roll Animal. I insist it's the Loaded version you want.


  1. Even at number seven, this feels too low. A great anthem that every garage band needs to learn, yet not ruined by overplay on so called classic rock stations.