22 February 2007

8+

"The Gift" by The Velvet Underground which clocks in at 8:18

Hair metal had reached its limit. It was then mid-August 1989 and I was sick of everything I was listening to at the time. So were a lot of people I think. The wave of "alternative" music was cresting and about to break. Even if my hair didn't show it, the endlessly flanged riffs of Joe Perry, Slash, C.C. Deville, and all of the other guitar heroes were no longer music to my ears. A change was on the horizon and the path that lay ahead of me was one of looking back before looking forward. First, The Velvet Underground. Then, everything else.

I didn't know it right away, but I was starting to expand my musical horizons from the very moment I sat down for the first time in the cramped back seat of my friend Jon's older brother's (older brother was college age, but not enrolled in school) late '70s Camaro. On that day I heard "Lady Godiva's Operation" blasting through the speakers positioned directly next to my seat and I'll never forget just how blown away I was. Oh yeah, it was LOUD. He had 200 amps or something in there. As the speakers shook so did the car frame. But that's not what drove the point home. No, what made me know that this was going to be my next tape purchase was the music itself. It was dark and sexy and slightly scary but mostly interesting. The song grooved and chugged along like a perfect soundtrack to Richard Matheson's short story Dance of the Dead. In fact, I noted that at the time. I always loved horror movies, and stories, so this was an obvious connection for me to make and I listened and enjoyed for a few minutes when, suddenly, someone spoke very loudly. "SWEETLY". I had no clue what had just happened. "What the shit was that?!" I thought. Then it came again, same voice. "NEATLY PUMP AIR". Realizing it was part of the song, and not some rogue voice in my head, I continued to enjoy the rest of it and we were at our destination (Pizza Inn, if I remember correctly) in no time. Once we sat down, I needed answers.

"What were we listening to just now?"

"Dude. Velvet Underground dudes. Ya'll need to gets with this shit and stop listening to that Winger and shit. Duuuude." (he sounded like a southern Ted Theodore Logan)

"What album? And what was up with that guy's voice when it was all 'SWEETLY'? I thought it was one of you guys at first..."

"Dude, you want to borrow the tape? Be my guest bro. The album is called White Light/White Heat and that song was 'Lady Godiva's Operation'...isn't it fucking cool as shit? This band did tons of drugs, yeah. But what ya'll little bitches need to hear is 'The Gift'. It's on the same tape too. Check it out. It tells the raddest story and it's like rrrreally long and stuff. And the band mixed it so that the story is being told in one speaker and the music is in the other. You little dudes should go get some headphones on and check it out. You can pan it so you only hear one or the other. It's like: story only, or music only...your choice dude. It's awesome. And remember, listen to the words. It's about the story dude."

Being the smart (obedient) music hungry little dudes that we were, we went right about the task of listening to "The Gift" as soon as we got back to Jon's parents' house. And we did indeed listen on headphones. And we played with the balance and switched it from left to right and back again. And we listened to the spoken lyrics very closely. And we loved it.

Your turn.

Buy White Light/White Heat HERE on Amazon.

EAR FARM's 8+ is a weekly feature that showcases songs longer than 8 minutes. In the recent past these songs were featured on EF's 8+:
Elton John - "Funeral for a Friend / Love Lies Bleeding"
Jenő Jandó - "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2"
The Temptations - "Take a Stroll Thru Your Mind"
Deerhoof - "Look Away"
Tan Dun - "Symphony 1997: II. Earth (Yi3)"
Jane's Addiction - "Three Days"
Joanna Newsom - "Monkey & Bear"
Depeche Mode - "Never Let Me Down Again" (Split Mix)

To see a full list of every song featured in EAR FARM's 8+ click HERE.

3 comments:

Matt said...

FYI - somehow this post, and the comments, got deleted. Therefore, I had to restore the post a few mins ago but the comments are gone forever. To respond to the one from Passion of the Weiss - I've not yet written about "Murder Mystery" but I want to in the future once I start repeating artists in this feature. "Sweet Jane" as well...

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