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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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PRINTED FROM MINNESOTA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.minnesota.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MNSO for personal use.date: 25 July 2021

Velvet Underground

Velvet Underground

(p.110) Velvet Underground
Beginning to See the Light

Ellen Willis

University of Minnesota Press

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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