Few things chap a man’s hide the likes of realizing he’s mislaid both the vinyl and CD copies of the Velvet Underground’s late-period works Loaded and Live at Max’s Kansas City.

UPDATE: As this entry was prompted by having decided the right way to see 208 in was to listen to the Velvets on vinyl from around 8 until midnight at least, some thoughts:

For some reason, when I read Gene Wolfe, it is these recordings I hear in my mind. I am not sure why, as Wolfe’s interests and opinions would at first appear diametrically opposed to those of Lou Reed, for one.

On slight reflection, Reed’s songwriting has always been about subjectivity, and that is a major theme in Wolfe’s work.

Wolfe, of course, is probably the sole English-language writer to successfully hybridize the aesthetics of the Vienna Secession with that of Borges and Marquez; how could a language worker so invested in the idea of decadence and referentiality NOT somehow reflect the work of the Velvets?

Ultimately, Wolfe writes coded explorations about his specific Messiah filtered through the characters he conjures, holographic reimaginings of Jesus. Reed’s stuff isn’t about Jesus, but nearly always he’s aiming for a purity of experience and looking to convey his characters’ spiritual orientation. It’s the source of both artists’ excess, and probably why I love their work so much.

One thought on “Playin the fool agin

  1. You lost me. I’ve never read Wolfe, and I’m not really a fan of the Velvets. I listen to a couple of their big hits from time to time, that’s it. Just wanted to say Happy New Year.

Comments are now closed.