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The Essential Ellen Willis$
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Ellen Willis and Nona Willis Aronowitz

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780816681204

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816681204.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM MINNESOTA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.minnesota.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MNSO for personal use.date: 18 May 2022

The Velvet Underground

The Velvet Underground

(p.121) The Velvet Underground
The Essential Ellen Willis

Nona Willis Aronowitz

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter discusses sin and salvation as reflected in the songs on Velvet Underground, an anthology culled from that rock band’s first three LPs. In New York City in the mid-1960s, the Velvet Underground’s lead singer, guitarist, and auteur, Lou Reed, made a fateful connection between two seemingly disparate ideas—the rock-and-roller as self-conscious aesthete and the rock-and-roller as self-conscious punk. The group broke up in 1970, but the aesthete-punk connection was carried on, mainly in New York and England, by Velvets-influenced performers like Mott the Hoople, David Bowie, Roxy Music and its offshoots, and the New York Dolls. By 1977, the same duality had surfaced in new ways, with new force, under new conditions, to become the basis of rock-and-roll’s new wave. The Velvets suggested continuity between art and violence, order and chaos, but they also posed a radical split between body and spirit.

Keywords:   sin, salvation, songs, Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, aesthete, punk, rock-and-roll, new wave, art

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