Photo: Courtesy of Apple TV+
The Velvet Underground
Watch New 'The Velvet Underground' Documentary Trailer From Apple TV+
The upcoming Todd Haynes-directed documentary chronicles the Velvet Underground’s upstart in the 1960s and their eventual global superstardom
Today, Apple TV+ unveiled the first trailer for The Velvet Underground, a long-awaited documentary about the New York City rock band beloved for their unapologetic sound and experimental high art appeal.
Arriving in select theaters and Apple TV+ on Oct. 15, the film features never-before-seen performances, interviews with surviving group members, music recordings and segments of Andy Warhol collaborations. Accompanying the film is a two-disc and digital soundtrack of legendary tracks and rarities by The Velvet Underground, curated by the film’s director Todd Haynes—his debut documentary—and music supervisor Randall Poster. Known for his experimental touch behind musical films I’m Not There and Velvet Goldmine, Haynes is sure to bring the same immersive experience to The Velvet Underground.
An Official Selection of Festival de Cannes 2021, The Velvet Underground follows the band’s roots from New York City underground street culture to the mainstream through their presence in music and pop art.
The film follows a series of music documentaries featured on Apple TV+, including Beastie Boys Story, Aretha Franklin’s 1972 gospel return Amazing Grace and Billie Eilish documentary The World’s A Little Blurry.
Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016
Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.
Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.
A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.
This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system.
"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."
He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.
"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.
To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood."
Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes.
Photo: Gus Stewart/Getty Images
Lou Reed's 'Berlin' Is One Of Rock's Darkest Albums. So Why Does It Sound Like So Much Fun?
Lou Reed's third album is a harrowing examination of addiction, abuse and suicide. Yet the bleakness lands because it's so beautifully counterweighted.
Lou Reed's Berlin begins with a nightmarishly tape-destroyed German count-in — eins, zwei, drei, zugabe — followed by the "Happy Birthday" song. It ends with a bloody suicide in a bed.
Wait, that's the second-to-last track; Berlin actually ends as the narrator callously brushes off said suicide — which happened to be of the mother of his children. The lynchpin track, "The Kids," features a harrowing soundbite of children screaming for their mother.
In between, Reed relates the tale of a relationship that spins out into addiction, prostitution and domestic abuse against the backdrop of the titular city — which, at the time, Reed had never been to.
Berlin profoundly alienated some critics. Rolling Stone castigated it as one of "certain records so patently offensive that one wishes to take some kind of physical vengeance on the artists that perpetrate them...a distorted and degenerate demimonde of paranoia, schizophrenia, degradation, pill-induced violence and suicide."
Likewise, Robert Christgau called the notion of Berlin's artistic accomplishment "horses—" and added that the story of the couple "lousy," with the ambitious, operatic music "only competent." By all accounts, the incomprehension hurt Reed; he pulled a 180 with 1974's glammy Sally Can't Dance.
But despite the content, and the chaos in Reed's personal life at the time — fathoms of drugs, a failing marriage — Berlin is no druggie disaster. In reality, it's one of the crown jewels of the GRAMMY winner's voluminous discography, and a masterclass in finding beauty in the sordid depths of the human condition.
And it's difficult to imagine Berlin's story landing without utterly gonzo music — and a fair amount of ink-black humor.
The key to the former is the GRAMMY-nominated producer Bob Ezrin, who's helped craft any number of epic, ridiculous, fall-on-your-face rock classics. Case in point: a year prior to Berlin, he'd produced Alice Cooper's School's Out; just after, he'd helm Aerosmith's Get Your Wings.
Berlin followed 1972's Transformer — his second album and breakthrough, by way of the epochal "Walk on the Wild Side." Both the album and single's successes were helped along by a very high-profile producer — an ascendant David Bowie.
But as Anthony DeCurtis lays out in his 2017 biography Lou Reed: A Life, Bowie had been attracting credit for Transformer, and Reed started to look like his imitator.
"From the industry perspective, the aesthetic differences between Bowie, Reed and Cooper were meaningless," DeCurtis explains in the book. "Broadly speaking, they were all working the same side of the street — bending gender categories and stunning conventional sensibilities."
Given this perception — and a brawl they'd undergone in a London club over Reed's habits — it was time for Reed to untether from Bowie, just as the latter launched into the stratosphere.
"Lou is out of the glitter thing. He really denounces it," crowed Reed's manager at the time, Dennis Katz. "He's not interested in glam rock or glitter rock. Lou Reed is a rock and roller." Reed and Katz went with the 23-year-old Ezrin, who was riding high on Alice Cooper's success — and seemed like the obvious choice.
With the success of Transformer in the rearview, Ezrin and Reed felt emboldened to devise a work of boundless aspiration. It would be a rock opera — a double concept album with an elaborate booklet, with photographs that depict the downfall of the central couple, Caroline and Jim.
Ezrin booked a wild backing ensemble — including keyboardist Steve Winwood of the Spencer Davis Group, Blind Faith and Traffic; bassist Jack Bruce of Cream; drummer B.J. Wilson of Procol Harum; and Michael and Randy Brecker, respectively on tenor sax and trumpet. As the sessions rolled on, hype broiled around the project.
"It's not an overstatement to say that Berlin will be the Sgt. Pepper of the seventies," blustered Larry "Ratso" Sloman in Rolling Stone. Which is laughable today — but it helps frame Berlin in its time and context.
"When people thought of a concept album, they thought Sgt. Pepper," singer/songwriter Elliott Murphy, who befriended Reed around this period, tells GRAMMY.com. "And Berlin is kind of the Antichrist of Sgt. Pepper."
Just as Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band used childhood and nostalgia as a launching pad rather than a set of rigid parameters, Berlin — which ended up being a single-disc release — doesn't simply bludgeon you with misery for 49 minutes.
Berlin takes flower from its title track, a barely-there sketch of a romantic scene in the titular city, originally released on Reed's self-titled 1972 debut. As DeCurtis opines in Lou Reed: A Life, "Perhaps it was the song's unfinished quality that appealed to them, leaving space for them to fill with their fantasies of what it might become."
Whatever the case, Reed had a natural facility for expansive narratives. As author Will Hermes explains, Reed's early "mentor and model" was Delmore Schwartz, his English professor at Syracuse University.
"There's humor and there's pathos in equal parts," says Hermes, whose sprawling, fascinating biography, Lou Reed: The King of New York, was released Oct. 3. He's referring to Schwartz and his work, but this extends to his mentee: "Reed was a hilarious guy, from everybody I spoke to, and certainly reading his interviews. So that darkness and humor came together. I don't think a lot of people got that about Berlin when it was first produced."
Reed had taken a theater class at Syracuse, loved Federico Fellini in college, and remained a cinephile for life. By its very nature, the episodic, operatic format of Berlin precludes monotony; each song examines this doomed coupling from a different angle.
Sure, every facet of the Berlin tale is cursed. But Reed explains why it's cursed — including from Jim and Caroline's warring perspectives, as on "Jim Says," "Caroline I" and "II" and beyond. Which gives it innate narrative variety, as the listener ping-pongs through the sordid tale.
"'The Bed' and 'The Kids' are very powerful experiences, but not really a hoot," Stickles says of Berlin's B-side. "But the A-side is a pretty big hoot. Like, 'Caroline Says I' rocks. 'How Do You Think It Feels' — these are fun, big rockers, and it's got the funny flutes and clarinets as well."
And while Reed is unflinching in his depictions of violence and suffering, that quality doesn't render him a bore on Berlin — Reed being Reed, it makes him a live wire.
"Berlin is not that one-dimensional; it's not a single-note record," singer/songwriter and Reed head Jerry David DeCicca, who's just released his latest album New Shadows, tells GRAMMY.com. "It might be shades of some of those things, but that's what makes it interesting."
This eclecticism extends to the music, which never rolls over and cries in its milk, but frequently detonates with goofy, stadium-sized, Meat Loaf-esque jubilance. But despite its pedigree and context within a specific chapter of hard rock, Berlin sounds oddly singular.
Patrick Stickles, the lead singer of the rock band Titus Andronicus and a Reed acolyte, calls Berlin "far more proggy than your typical Lou Reed material."
"It's very ornate, but it doesn't really sound like Yes or King Crimson or whatever was going on at that time," Stickles tells GRAMMY.com," because he's still writing with his favorite two or three chords."
"It just doesn't sound like a lot of records from that time period," DeCicca says. "So I don't think he was trying to fit in."
DeCicca then considers the wider scope of Reed's catalog: "He made another record after that, the next year, that was just incredibly different [Sally Can’t Dance]. Which I'm sure was in some part a reaction to it. But how conscious or unconscious is probably a little bit debatable. I mean, he was not somebody who wanted to repeat himself."
In the end, Berlin resonates due to Reed's boundless audacity — and the sheer oddness that permeates its grooves, from start to finish.
"That's probably his No. 1 virtue as a writer — that he always goes there," GRAMMY nominee Will Sheff, who's struck out solo after two decades fronting Okkervil River, tells GRAMMY.com. "I think his main innovation is that he took the guardrails off of subject matter." (Tonalities, too: whether this was intentional or not, Sheff calls 1967's The Velvet Underground & Nico "one of the most f—ed up, cheap, amateurish things that you've ever heard.")
Sheff and his Okkervil River bandmates clung to Berlin during desperate, ragged tours of yore: today, he marvels at the contradictions of its studio dynamic.
"Based on a lot of the accounts, it sounds a little bit like Bob Ezrin was kind of dragging him through the process of making it," Sheff says. "It kind of sounds like a f—ed up, surly, stuck in molasses guy, who's being sort of dragged out of bed and forced into the studio, where there's a string section waiting for him."
(Was Reed on fire in the studio, or being "dragged" by Ezrin? "I think it was a bit of both," Hermes says. "There were a lot of drugs and alcohol involved, but they were working really hard, being really ambitious.")
However checked out Reed was or wasn't, Ezrin brought his consummate showmanship to the party. "And that's part of what makes Berlin fun — he really honors Lou Reed's ambitions, maybe more than Lou was honoring them at the time. I wouldn't call it joyous, but there is a lot very butch [energy], like, 'I'm just a guy strutting down the street in Berlin, and I'm a tough man.' I find that stuff very charming."
Sure, Berlin may be exactly how Sheff describes it: "excessively dark…sick, diseased, kind of broken heart of a masculine anger and sorrow." Against that pitch-black backdrop, every overenthusiastic drumfill, expensive string flourish and brutal joke truly sparkle. (As per the latter: ("This is a bum trip," Caroline complains about domestic battery.)
Despite the sting of critical rejection, Reed continued pursuing long-form, narrative works throughout his career. These included what Hermes calls "three experimental quote-unquote musical theater pieces.") These were with the visionary Robert Wilson — one based on H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, another based on Edgar Allen Poe, and another in Lulu, which germinated into a polarizing 2011 album of the same name with Metallica.
And Reed always felt strongly about Berlin. In 2006, he revived it for a stage show, which would be released two years later as Berlin: Live at St. Ann's Warehouse. As Hermes put it, "The performance was frequently gorgeous and a bitter pill: magnificent, overwrought, pretentious, full of thematic misogyny." In other words, it's a lot — and it deals in far more than you-know-what quality.
"Lots of content in life is depressing," DeCicca says, "but that doesn't mean you write off people's experiences as not being worth engaging with."
Half a century on, Berlin isn't merely worth engaging with — it remains brazen and captivating, a looking glass into the heart of darkness.
Photo: Edward Wong/South China Morning Post via Getty Images
Remembering Seymour Stein: Without The Record Business Giant, Music Would Be Unrecognizable
The music man who signed everyone from the Ramones to Madonna will be profoundly missed throughout the global music community. He passed away on Apr. 8 at 80.
There’s a Belle and Sebastian song titled “Seymour Stein” that evokes a real-life, lavish feast between the soft-spoken Scottish indie band and the record company executive.
In the 1998 ballad, singer Stuart Murdoch details the tension between their working class identities and the dizzying prospects that Stein held in the palm of his hand. “Promises of fame, promises of fortune/ L.A. to New York/ San Francisco, back to Boston,” Murdoch dreamily sings. But he demurs, thinking of a girl back home in the country: “My thoughts are far away.”
There was a very good reason Murdoch and company associated Stein with an almost blindingly paradisiacal vision of music success. For an entire generation of alternative weirdos, Stein — the co-founder of Sire Records and vice president of Warner Bros. Records — was the guy who made it happen.
Sadly, Stein passed away on April 2 at his home in Los Angeles of cancer at the age of 80. This seismic loss to the global music community has rightfully earned tributes from far-flung corners of the music industry. Many, like his signee Madonna, openly pondered where their lives would be without his razor-sharp perception and adoration of all things music.
Think of the three-or-four-chord powderkeg of the Ramones’ 1977 self-titled debut, and the CBGB-adjacent army that answered to its detonation: Talking Heads, the Pretenders, Richard Hell and the Voldoids — on and on. Stein signed them all to Sire, either initiating their careers, as per the Ramones, or heralding their second acts, as he did the Replacements.
That paradigm arguably amounted to the biggest shift in guitar-based music since the Beatles — the ratcheting-down of opulent ‘70s rock into something leaner, meaner, and arguably more honest. But even that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Stein's influence on music and culture at large.
Stein was the man who signed Madge, a profoundly pivotal figure in the following decade. And the rest of his resume was staggering: the Smiths, the Cure, Seal, k.d. lang, Brian Wilson, Lou Reed, Body Count… the list goes on.
He helped to establish the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, by way of the foundation of the same name, initiated by Ahmet Ertegun in 1983 — and was himself inducted in 2005. In 2018, the Recording Academy bestowed him with a coveted Trustees Award, which acknowledged his decades of service to the music community.
Indeed, the music man’s loss reverberates throughout the world’s leading society of music people.
“Seymour Stein was one of the greatest A&R executives of all time,” Ruby Marchand, the Chief Awards & Industry Officer at the Recording Academy, tells GRAMMY.com. “His passion, magnetic energy and natural curiosity underscored a lifelong dedication to unique artistry.
“He especially prized the art of songwriting and had an encyclopedic knowledge of songs, often bursting out in song to regale and delight friends and colleagues,” recalls Marchand, who worked with Stein for decades. “Seymour traveled the globe for decades and basked in the glow of discovering emerging artists singing to small audiences, from Edmonton to Seoul.
“He was a doting mentor, advisor, cheerleader and advocate for hundreds of us in the industry worldwide,” she concludes. “We cherish him and miss him terribly, and know how fortunate we were to have had him in our lives.”
The Recording Academy hails the late, great Stein for his monumental achievements in the music industry — ones that have fundamentally altered humanity’s universal language forever.
Photo: Madeline McManus
Living Legends: John Cale On How His Velvet Underground Days & Love Of Hip-Hop Influenced New Album 'Mercy'
The Velvet Underground may be riding a wave of public interest, but John Cale is laser-focused on the now — especially his miles-deep new album, 'Mercy,' which features Animal Collective, Sylvan Esso and many more.
Living Legends is a series that spotlights icons in music still going strong today. This week, GRAMMY.com spoke with John Cale, a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and founding member of the Velvet Underground who has steadily built his solo discography for more than half a century. His new album, Mercy, is available now.
Back in 2018, John Cale strolled into the Velvet Underground Experience, an exhibition in New York City's NoHo neighborhood, and gazed upward at a massive projection at Lou Reed's face for several seconds. This writer was there, and the memory lingered — as did its attendant questions.
What must it be like to be chiefly known for what you did as a very young man, for all of two years? To boot, after decades of a storied solo career — including classics like 1973's Paris 1919 and 1982's Music for a New Society — what is it like to have people chiefly want to talk about the Velvets? On top of that, was there any perception among its members that what they were doing was important — much less momentous, and pivotal for popular music?
"I had some theoretical ideas as to why it was important," Cale tells GRAMMY.com over the phone from Los Angeles, where he resides. "I thought if I put together the music that Lou and I would do — which was out of tune slightly, but getting somewhere — the idea of what the music was going to be was going to have an effect. Not only on the avant-garde, but on a lot of other different styles.
The impact of the Velvet Underground on alternative, punk and experimental music has been litigated and relitigated — most recently, in Todd Haynes' fantastic 2021 documentary The Velvet Underground and Ignacio Julià's illuminating 2023 book of interviews, Linger On.
Where do you go from there, with Reed; Nico; manager, producer and cover artist Andy Warhol; and founding Velvets guitarist Sterling Morrison no longer with us? Cale remains a potent creative force, so he keeps hurtling forward. His new album, Mercy, is one of his very best — aurally immersive, lyrically wise and filled with facilitative guests, from Weyes Blood to Laurel Halo to Animal Collective.
"I was angry," Cale says of his mindset while writing songs like "Noise of You," "Story of Blood" and "Not the End of the World." More specifically, "I was angry at the number of people in positions of power that should have known better and didn't." Thus, Cale remains a truth-teller as well as a thoughtful collaborator and vital innovator — and it's all there in the music.
GRAMMY.com caught up with Cale to discuss the origin of Mercy, the young rapper that's influencing him lately, and what the remainder of 2023 holds for him.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Whether political or personal, what raw materials went into Mercy?
Well, it was happenstance more than anything.
I was on tour in São Paulo, and I was getting on a plane to go home, and by the time I landed in LA, everybody was under strict lockdown. I'd already written the bulk of the album. So, I came back and was thinking: What is it I can add to this, and maybe ignore the lockdown for a minute and get on with some useful stuff?
Two and a half years later, I was still working on the structure and the noise of the album. I went straight back into it and added some other musicians. I was really glad I did, because [of] the variety of the musicians I found — I mean, I'd worked with them for the Velvet reunion concerts and other places.
So, there was Laurel Halo; there was Actress; there was Weyes Blood, Sylvan Esso, Animal Collective, and Fat White Family. And the songs benefited from all of that interruption.
Reading the lyrics, I was captivated by their heavy, overarching topics. You seem to have a bird's-eye view of everything.
Well, I was angry. I was angry at the number of people in positions of power that should have known better and didn't.
Regarding pandemic mitigation?
Pandemic mitigation, and distorting the truth. Disinformation, conspiracy theories, guns — so much hate. And we were really badly in need — and still are — for people to speak the truth, to help heal this mess and get to the point where redemption was possible. I thought, Well, that's what it is. Strain your soul.
Having been born at the top half of the '40s, do you remember another time when things were this nuts?
Well, I was born at the end of World War II, so it had something going on there that when you got out of it, you thought, Well, I'm glad that's over. Maybe now we'll go learn some common sense. And here we are, 60 years later; we still haven't learned it.
Can you describe the aural aesthetic you pursued for Mercy? I was struck by how enveloping it was from the beginning. It's maximal, but not busy.
That's true. I didn't want it to be busy.
Usually, I write songs from an improvisational point of view. I start with a rhythm, and I improvise the biggest part of the song and then simplify it. Because most of the stuff that I listen to is hip-hop, and I learned a lot from their style and their awkwardness. It was really instructive to me.
I only listened to certain kinds of hip-hop, and the further out they got, the better I liked it. There's a California style, and there's the Bronx. I can't say that I tried to imitate what they were doing, because I couldn't. I mean, I've got a Welsh accent, and that'll stop you in your tracks.
Tell me more about your improvisatory roots, back in the Velvets days when you played a lot of viola.
I don't play as much viola as I used to in those days, but that instrument was really what started me off. I was playing in orchestras from the time I was 12 or 14, and I used to improvise in the most awkward of situations. When you think of what the viola is famous for… not much!
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I also loved listening to U.S. radio; the broadcaster came from D.C. I used to listen to Radio Moscow as well. It was full of those hard-to-find jazz musicians — I mean, Miles and Gil Evans and the entire "new jazz."
I used to go down to the Village and listen to all those guys playing there. I would go several nights a week to see Gil Evans and how his arrangements were really rich.
They were splendid, if you know what I mean by the use of the word "splendid." They had luxurious arrangements with several bass clarinets — not the simple, improvised pieces. These were chord-oriented and very rich. Yeah, they were something I learned a lot from.
John Cale performing with the Velvet Underground in 1966. Photo: Adam itchie/Redferns via Getty Images
You characterize yourself as being an awkward improviser early on. When do you feel like you really came into your own in that regard?
Last year, when I finally got this album under control.
Yeah. I mean, it really took a while, and it's kind of insecure. But when you start writing songs from the rhythm point of view first, you get to the end a lot faster — and it's a very exciting kind of journey, the progress to the end of the song.
That's what this album represents more than anything: what comes first? Do you put the melody down first? Do you put the rhythm down first? I put the rhythm down first. And as soon as you put the rhythm down first, you're in hip-hop.
Tell me a little more about what draws you to hip-hop. Which artists speak to you?
Earl Sweatshirt. A lot that didn't fall into any particular category. They drifted a bit; they drifted in their own thoughts. And I didn't mind that at all.
I'd love to go through the tracklisting and get your insight on each tune.
"Mercy": I had to decide whether I was going to lay myself open to pseudo-religious methodology, and Laurel Halo was similar. I met her in Australia on a tour, and she was a very trance-like synthesist.
"Marilyn Monroe's Legs": I wanted to write a song about Marilyn Monroe, but I didn't want to mention her name in the song. It has a certain obscurity to it; I wanted that song to have abstractedness.
"Noise of You" was something I wrote as an atmospheric piece. With all the melodies and choruses going in it, it really reminded me of Central Europe — of Prague in wintertime. Every time I played that song, I couldn't get away from the idea that this is the Charles river. When I first went to Prague, it was a difficult period, but it straightened itself out.
Then, there's "Story of Blood" with Weyes Blood. [She] has this passionate voice that really fits in, and carries the melody and emotion really well. "Time Stands Still," with Sylvan Esso — I loved them from when I first got used to them. I loved the way that they do melody and rhythm. They had some really beautiful phrasing.
"Moonstruck" is something that came late in my day. I'd not written a song about Nico, because I'd worked on a lot of her records, but "Moonstruck" is how I imagine her style would be. When she approached songwriting, it was because a big influence on her was Jim Morrison. She put much of it together in that style. Jim was making a point of saying, "Do the words first. Do the poetry first, and then the music will come." So, "Moonstruck" was something I reflected on.
"Everlasting Days" with Animal Collective was a very, very useful way of using several different harmonies, like the Beach Boys — four-voice harmony. This was a fun track to work on with them.
"Night Crawling" was about what I remembered from those days when CBGB's was carrying on. It was one of those cases where you really want to work with somebody so much that you don't get the opportunity.
"Not the End of the World" was my way of dealing with the serendipity of life. You got a problem? Yeah, well, get over it and get some work done. That's always the way I've found life since the Velvet Underground — to be a continuum. Because really, I was always into work. Andy [Warhol], Lou [Reed] and myself, we all had that poke in the eye that comes from doing good work.
So, you have "The Legal Status of Ice" by Fat White Family, and they were a rambunctious lot. As close to having a punch-up as anybody. "I Know You're Happy" has [Colombian-Canadian singer/songwriter] Tei Shi on it. And "Out Your Window" is a little bit of a look back at the Velvets. The piano part does.
John Cale. Photo: Marlene Mariano
Aside from Mercy, what's the remainder of 2023 looking like for you?
A break! The two-and-a-half years that I put into this album — before I could leave the album, I came off the road and started getting used to daily life without performing. And deciding that it was smart to write as many songs as I possibly could and get them done fast, because you've got this nasty little monster around.
So, that's what I did. By the time I went back on the road, my engineer and I looked at the list that we had. There were something like 70 or 80 songs on there, and I thought: Good job.