Listen to this track by twin Velvet Underground founders and former Andy Warhol musical interests Lou Reed and John Cale. It’s “Hello It’s Me” as taken from the 1990 album Songs For Drella, a concept album about the aforementioned Warhol, in part as a way of saying goodbye.
Warhol had died in 1987 after a gall bladder operation. And in that time, some distance had grown between him and two of those who had been taken under his artistic wing in the late 1960s. The Velvet Underground was a project of Warhol’s as much as it was Reed’s and Cale’s. It was under Warhol’s mentorship that the band initially established their presence.
This record is a musical journey of a life, tracing Andy’s origins in Pittsburgh, to his rise to fame as a pop art mover in New York City, to the assassination attempt on him, to his founding of Interview magazine, and to his latter years.
Perhaps this song, which is the closer to the set, is the most overt goodbye there is from two men who had known Warhol best, and not without a significant amount of guilt, too
Listen to this track by one of the founders of drone rock and former member of the Velvet Underground John Cale. It’s “Paris 1919”, the title track from his acclaimed 1973 album of the same name, Paris 1919, featuring a plethora of literary references as well as a lush pop sound that wouldn’t be out of place in the catalogues of Paul McCartney or the Moody Blues.
It may well be the only record to include both Dylan Thomas, who is referenced in the lyrics, and Little Feat, whom Cale used as a backing group on the record.
The scope of John Cale’s musical interest, influence, and hands on involvement is one of the widest in rock history. As a musician, he’s graced the albums of artists ranging from Nick Drake to the Patti Smith Group. As a producer, he’s guided the sessions of acts from the Stooges to the Modern Lovers, to Alejandro Escovedo. As such, unexpected stylistic left-turns from Cale are to be oddly expected left-turns. And this song, and the album off of which it comes is one such turn, albeit one of his most accessible.