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Beginning to See the LightSex, Hope, and Rock-and-Roll$
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Ellen Willis

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780816680788

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816680788.001.0001

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Velvet Underground

Velvet Underground

Chapter:
(p.110) Velvet Underground
Source:
Beginning to See the Light
Author(s):

Ellen Willis

Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
DOI:10.5749/minnesota/9780816680788.003.0015

This chapter presents the author’s reflections about the rock band, Velvet Underground. The Velvets were eclectic: their music and sensibility suggested influences as diverse as Bob Dylan and Andy Warhol, Peter Townshend and John Cage; they experimented with demented feedback and isolated, pure notes and noise for noise’s sake; they were partial to sweet, almost folk-like melodies; they played the electric viola on Desolation Row. But they were basically rock-and-roll artists, building their songs on a beat that was sometimes implied rather than heard, on simple, tough, pithy lyrics about their hard-edged urban demimonde, on rock-and-roll’s oldest metaphor for modern city life—anarchic energy contained by a tight, repetitive structure. Some of their best songs, especially “Heroin,” redefined how rock-and-roll was supposed to sound.

Keywords:   Velvet Underground, rock and roll, albums, music, rock bands

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