When I need to do something that feels Herculean, I recall the inspiration of The Velvet Underground when I encountered their music in high school. In the middle of the 80s, those looking for music would have heavily accessed the rich vein of 1960s nuggets continuously re-emerging twenty years on. So it was for me.
I knew of The Velvet Underground through other bands like REM who trumpeted and covered them, but when an album of lost recordings from the vault called VU was released in 1985, I heard them anew. For me it is still my favorite album from a band possessed of five star albums because it was new in my own time though recorded in 1968 and 1969. The songs hadn't been heard or released in the interim. The intervening years have blended the 80s releases into the band's canon where they belong but it is still worth considering the breadth and depth of one group's creation, product, timeline, impact...
So many elements of their music rise up in my life over time from the European angst of Cale's strings and Nico vocals, to the pure pop of the last years and Sterling's measure, to the spoken word Gift, to the mineral element of Moe Tucker's drums, and the words, Lou's message to a fucked up world.
I learn again and again listening to them through the years about that distance between the creation of art, the point of critical mass, the legacy and what society expects of artists in their day, of creators in their time. Success is rarely contemporaneous. Just do the work and time will follow.
"Between Thought and Expression there lies a Lifetime."
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