At the Jukebox we blurb a number of Velvet and Lou songs:
I make the case for the oft-derided Sally Can't Dance. Regarding my closing sentence: I was thinking of giving The Blue Mask a relisten but felt that, since I was basically looking to compare it invidiously to Sally, I wasn't really going to be listening with good ears.
Waitin' for a better day to hear what Blue's got to say.
Someone had dibs on "Heroin" but didn't make it. If anyone had paid me to write a proper memorial I'd have given prominence to a basic screaming fact that all the memorials and obits have managed to avoid and evade or not even notice, which is that the Velvets, like Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel who were already doing it* (and it was in the Stones and Airplane and a whole bunch of others then and now, really is all over modern culture), were — however ambivalently — promulgating the idea of dysfunction and self-destruction as a form of social protest against a contaminated and compromised world that had contaminated and compromised the self. A refusal, a denial. Being fucked and making an issue of it as a semi-social-marker, part of a sort of an identity politics of freaks and punks and bohos and ilk. The intersection of social class and conspicuous self-destruction.
Of course, you can like the music without this stuff being a big deal to you. But I doubt that so many people would have liked the songs so much if it hadn't, at least subliminally, been a big deal for a lot of them.
*Not that the idea is new. Presumably goes back at least to Germany in the mid 1700s. See "Romanticism, Age Of." I know almost nothing about Gothic novels of the time, but later on it was in Byron and Stendhal and later still all over Hemingway and Faulkner (when I was rereading Absalom, Absalom! for college I'd put "Sister Ray" on in the background). But I don't know how much it makes it into popular song until the 1960s. Is kinda there as potential in the Delta blues of people like Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters.