On New Dylans and Self-Dislike

Frank Kogan: “Eventually, in New York, in the early ’80s, I finally went back and got on top of the ‘Sister Ray’ groove. Was the first groove I’d ever mastered, and it was actual power. But back in the ugly college ’70s I felt the guy more. He was a truth teller who didn’t like himself much, which brought out the wrong truths β€” he couldn’t believe a truth unless it went against him. Or, anyway, the β€” true β€” love and idealism had to hide between the lines, a photonegative of what was going wrong, sentimental self-dislike. A thoughtful, very kind, well-behaved high-school girl told me Berlin was a ‘fine album.’ I didn’t say anything in response, rather than going, ‘No, it’s self-pitying shit.’ I couldn’t stand to listen to it, but day by day I couldn’t stop myself from singing its songs, mouthing its words…”

Anthony Miccio: “While my music collection is full of New Dylans who put their own twists on that nascent pop-rock singer-songwriter form, no one, not Mitchell, not Young, not Cohen, brought as much to the table as Reed. Doo wop, free jazz, hard rock, musique concrete, poetry – classical and beat, r&b, blues, European artsong, all of that and more is swimming around The Velvet Underground & Nico. He had a lot of help (Morrison to push for English major/r&b-fan values, Cale to push for classical/avant garde ones, an actual European artsinger in Nico, Tucker providing a truly novel, outsider pulse and Warhol providing crucial encouragement), but it was his songs this peculiar cabal had formed around. And he was the one that took them into experimental horror-rock on the 2nd album, confessional balladry on the 3rd and sell-out shoobydoo on the 4th. Even in those incredibly reductive descriptions, his bravery and self-confidence is transparent.”


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