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The Velvet Underground and Raúl

20 aprile 2011

scritto da Kári Tulinius per The Run of Play

I still remember the first time I heard a Nico solo track from the post-Velvet Underground, post-Chelsea Girl era. It was “My Only Child” off Desertshore, Nico singing largely a capella in her unique voice, with occasional trumpet notes. It was like nothing else I had heard. I was stunned to find it was a song she had written herself. It was on a German anthology of “death songs” that my girlfriend gave me for Christmas in the far-off days of my unremembered youth (a.k.a. 2003).

The CD was not a relationship omen… at least in the short term. We got married next year, though we divorced a few years later. “My Only Child” smashed my preconceptions like a gentle hammer blow. I had of course known who Nico was for a long time and appreciated her contribution to the first Velvet Underground album, but I thought of her as nothing more than a striking vocalist, an interpreter of other people’s works. I had never bothered to check out her solo work after Chelsea Girl, which back when I was most obsessed with Velvet Underground And John Cale. For reasons that are now beyond me, I didn’t care much for Lou Reed’s solo work when I was younger. John Cale’s solo stuff is still closer to my heart, but I appreciate Lou Reed solo today. In fact, back in the day I would wind up Lou Reed fans by claiming that the creative force behind the latter two canonical Velvet Underground albums was Doug Yule. I still think it’s a travesty that Doug Yule (or Nico, for that matter) wasn’t inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame with the rest of Velvet Underground. was hard to find, especially when you lived on an island in the middle of the North Atlantic.

After being floored by “My Only Child,” I made it my mission to correct my error of presumption and seek out Nico’s solo works. The three albums she made from 1969-74, The Marble Index, Desertshore and The End, all rank among my favorite records. Her songwriting is unique and wonderful, her lyrics haunting and her musical vision unforgettable. I resolved after that to be more careful about judging artists based on only a small glimpse of their work. Yet I still make this mistake over and over again. The latest eye-opener was watching Raúl play for Schalke against Inter Milan in the second leg of their Champions League tie.

(continua su The Run of Play)

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