When people think of influential bands of the 1960s, they usually think of groups like The Rolling Stones and the Beatles. Another band very much deserves to be on that list, one called Velvet Underground. Their songs were just as influential as anything that the Beatles ever performed. As a matter of fact, those same songs are still listened to today, enjoyed by people of all ages. Below are 10 of their best examples, complete with clips that allow you to listen to the full song. If you haven’t heard them yet, you genuinely don’t know what you have been missing.
10. White Light/ White Heat
Not surprisingly, this is a song about the use of drugs. It’s not surprising because there were a lot of songs that referred to drug use, especially during the rock and roll era of the 1960s. The thing that makes this song different is that it isn’t a labored anthem about drug addiction. Instead, it refers to the way that drugs offered make a person feel, both the euphoria that comes with it and that hazy feeling that results from using drugs.
9. The Gift
This is a song about one of the most simple pleasures that anybody could ever hope to experience in life. It starts out about a person that is missing his girlfriend. The two are geographically apart and he’s struggling a great deal with that fact. At a point when he feels like he just can’t take it anymore, he receives an unexpected gift in the mail from her. That simple act makes him as happy as if he were standing right next to her, holding her in his arms. It is a song about something so blissfully simple, yet so meaningful at the same time. It’s no wonder that it quickly rose to fame and became one of their most popular songs.
8. After Hours
If you’re looking for the song that is completely off the wall, you need look no further. This one has a great deal of drumming in it, something that makes it popular for people that like a good beat. However, the lyrics are definitely out of this world. They refer to certain activities that often take place after hours and may or may not involve things like whips and chains. You can probably see where this is going. If you can’t, then just have a listen and decide things for yourself.
7. Pale Blue Eyes
Anyone who has ever loved someone and lost that person for whatever reason will be able to identify with this song. It is an incredibly sad song about lost love. More importantly, it goes on to tell the story of a person who is yearning to get that love back, focusing on that person’s blue eyes. As the story unfolds in the song, you begin to see that the reason the focus is on that particular individual’s eyes is because that is where the storyteller is focusing their memory. They miss this person intensely and they miss the things about them that were special to them. In short, they miss being able to look into their eyes and see a reflection of their soul. It’s one of the saddest songs that the group ever wrote and one that you should probably not listen to unless you have a box of tissues handy. Even on a good day, this is a song that can bring you to tears. If you’ve gone through something similar recently or you’re simply having an emotional day, it might be best to wait until you’re feeling a bit stronger before you listen to this particular song.
6. All Tomorrow’s Parties
This is a rather odd song that refers to something very specific, the art scene that was going on during the 1960’s. More specifically, it refers to the public highs and personal lows associated with some of that particular scene’s most popular individuals like Andy Warhol. It seems like an odd song to write, but there is definitely a story to be told in there, woman is worth listening to if only you were willing to give it a chance.
5. Sweet Jane
This is not a song that has a lot of poignant meaning as far as the songwriters were concerned, although it certainly may be quite poignant to someone who is listening to it. The song is about a love story in its purest form. There are no sweeping revelations in the song, but it still remains one of their top 10 best because of the way the lyrics and the music come together to tell the story.
4. Rock & Roll
This was probably one of their best songs off of their fourth album and it sounds much different from anything that the band had done before it. Two of the band members were gone. One was on maternity leave and another head left permanently. As such, the influence that caused so many songs about darker subjects to be written in the first three albums weren’t present for this one. The end result is a song that sounds more upbeat, one that is simply about why a person loves rock and roll.
3. Venus in Furs
People have long debated exactly what this song is about. It’s been described as sounding like a mix of sex gone wrong and the musical instruments of an orchestra being destroyed. As you can imagine, that doesn’t necessarily sound appealing. Despite that fact, this song has largely been one of the defining songs of the group since the time it came out. It’s up for each person to decide for themselves. One thing is certain, this is a song that accurately reflects a person who is very angry, with the music almost explaining those feelings of anger in my new detail from one minute to the next.
2. I’m Waiting for the Man
No, this is not a love song. It’s about someone standing on a street corner waiting for a man to show up so they can score drugs. It’s a very sad story that’s being told, yet the song disguises it as something that seems like the person telling the story is almost looking forward to it. It’s genius because it shows just how warped and distorted the mind of someone who is addicted to drugs can truly become.
Obviously, this is a song about drug addiction, hence its name. The thing that makes it so unique and perhaps odd is the fact that it is told as if it were some type of children’s lullaby. As such, it makes the act of shooting heroin seem as innocent as child’s play. Everyone knows that isn’t the case, but the song is telling the story from the perspective of someone who has been doing this for quite a long time, thereby allowing you to see how it has twisted their mind in the process.