‘The Gift’ by The Velvet Underground

Waldo Jeffers had reached his limit. It was now mid-August which meant he had been separated from Marsha for more than two months. Two months, and all he had to show was three dog-eared letters and two very expensive long-distance phone calls.

At an even earlier age, this song transfixed me with its mixture of a short story (written by Lou Reed, read by John Cale) and feedback rock. This was experimental music and an experiment with the form of the short story. From this point on, both noise music and experimental literature would interest me, and still do. I could have chosen other examples of the short story as song – Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Thunder Road’, Bob Dylan’s ‘Black Diamond Bay’, Neutral Milk Hotel’s ‘Holland, 1945’ and Current 93’s work with Thomas Ligotti. Reed’s mixture of humour (rare for Lou) and suburban horror blends and contrasts with Cale’s mellifluous accent and the raucous noise of his fuzz bass, Sterling Morrison white-hot guitar and Maureen Tucker’s power percussion.
On White Light/White Heat, Verve, 1968. Listen here

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