Yesterday Daniel and I spent the morning listening to The Velvet Underground’s first album. When I first started listening to The Velvet Underground, I always thought their songs were so sweet, but I guess the melodica was covering up the paranoid lyrics. I still get a kick of listening to it on Sunday mornings.
In thinking about it, there are so many songs on the album that confound me. Every time I listen to the Black Angel’s Death Song I can’t help but thinking about the Blonde Angel of Death even though I know that’s not what the songs about. I wonder if Lou Reed knew about him. The words resonate through my own projections.
The rally man’s patter ran on through the dawn
Until we said so long
To his skull-shrill yell
So eerie… Early on when Daniel and I started dating, he joked that I didn’t really like him, I just liked sad Jewish men who made art. I asked him to explain the phenomenon to me, and (I’ll never forget) he said it’s all somehow tied into the Holocaust; how each Jew somehow holds onto that burden. It’s never not talked about. “How could you not have some sadness, it’s your Jewish responsibility.” I didn’t quite get how that sadness translated into writing songs about cross dressing and heroin addiction. “Because they’re not afraid of preserving life’s sad and hard moments. We’ve been told our whole lives, more like warned, that we have to never forget the worst things.”
And if epiphany’s terror reduced you to shame
Have your head bobbed and weaved
Choose a side to be on
After all of these years, suppressing the hardest memories, rationalizing them away by saying I was unaffected, unemotional, almost inhuman, I feel like I missed things. When you suppressed those types of live moments, you really are suppressing so much more. When I look back at my diaries, I don’t read too many sad things, but also where were the happy moments? It’s like I kept a diary not to actually remember things, but to convince myself of a way I wanted to be.
When I listen to this song, when I think about the Blonde Angel, I start to remember. I was so terrified. And I was so sad seeing all of these changes that I felt helpless against. Maybe I really was hiding terror inside all of my shame.
Sacrificials remains make it hard to forget
Where you come from
As Nina gets older, we can tell her more about her namesake Uncle Nico. Maybe I can explain to her that all I felt was anger and claustrophobia for so long. And I hope she’ll never forget a moment.
She walked into the living room as the song was playing and wrinkled her face upon hearing the screeching sounds of the Velvet Underground. She asked what it was in a disgusted manner. I told her to come sit, and I finished listening to it while she waited for it to end. She stayed in my arms until European Son switched on. I never liked that one much either.