Golden Anniversary for the VU

Graceful retrospective essay by Joe Levy.

Fifty years ago today The Velvet Underground and Nico was released. I still have a vinyl copy with a peelable but unpeeled banana.

What hits me first, though, is how oblivious and Not Ready For This I was at the time. Hard to convey geographic and media isolation in Livingston, MT 1967. My parents were not music fans (my Dad was tone-deaf) and we had gotten a home stereo only three years earlier. I wouldn’t buy my first LP until later that year. Non-hit music was not only off the screen, it was off the earth.

But by 1970 I was different — I was hungry for culture from the counter and I grabbed the first copy of Lillian Roxon’s Rock Encyclopedia I saw. In it, I read that the Velvet Underground was a hugely important and hugely overlooked band and anyone who liked the book better get hip to them. Everything flowed from that.

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