December 2, 2003

Come and see me soon If ya get back from the moon

* Excellent 1971 Rolling Stone article on John Cale and Nico:

an excerpt:

"John Cale is staying in a white faced hotel in South Kensington. The hotel features a downstairs dentist and a hall of mirrors. The smell of anaesthesia hangs heavy and the mirrors reflect John Cale, moving through the lobby towards the door.

"'Take good care of him,' his lady calls out from atop some stairs. John keeps moving. 'We're only going for a walk. What could happen... in London?' 'People get lost on walks, don't they?' John says without stopping, moving out of the lobby into the rain and then into a pub.

"John Cale's face is soft. fleshy. He looks like he's wearing a suit even when he isn't. Since leaving the Velvet Underground, he's been in New York 'twiddling thumbs' and working with quadrophonics for CBS. He produced the first album for the Stooges and did the arrangements and producing for Nico's last two albums. After seven years, John will soon be leaving New York for L.A., a terrifying prospect. 'They say I'll have to learn how to drive a car. I will, won't I?' He's going to work for Warner's Reprise and will also be doing the soundtracks for films. But now, on Friday night, he is two days away from working his first gig since Boston, 1968, with the now-dead Velvet Underground.

"The Velvet Underground was a whole other dimension in the rock world. New York, New York, sweetheart, strungout vicious and twitching in spangled pants and see-through shirts coming into your living room to destroy your middle-class sense of propriety and well-being. Andy Warhol, of course, found the Velvets in a Greenwich Village nighthole and made them the band in his traveling freak show, the 'Exploding Plastic Inevitable.'

"To this day, you may hear it said that the Velvets were just another Long Island rock and roll band. Yes and no. Songs like 'I'm Waiting for My Man,' 'Heroin', 'Sister Ray' and 'I'll Be Your Mirror' do not come from hanging out at Nathan's in Oceanside (at least not back in 1967). One day Brian Jones brought Nico around to Andy's factory and the whole other dimension acquired another wrinkle, a lady with a unique voice. There in the background was John, bending and distorting notes on the viola so that you can hear the smack flow in 'Heroin' and 'go rushing on a run' right along with the music. Another wrinkle. Not many classically-trained musicians get as involved in the pop jungle as John, who also plays organ, and guitar, and writes words as well as music.

"'In Chicago, I was singing lead because Lou had hepatitis, no one knew the difference. We turned our faces to the wall and turned up very loud. Paul Morrisey (later the director of Trash) and Danny Williams had different visions of what the light show should be like and one night I looked up to see them fighting, hitting each other in the middle of a song. Danny Williams just disappeared. They found his clothes by the side of a river, with his car nearby... the whole thing. He used to carry this strobe around with him all the time and no one could figure out why till we found out he kept his amphetamine in it.'"


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