Thursday, August 9, 2007

John Cale - Paris 1919

John Cale is a musical genius. His creative influence on the Velvet Underground exceeded that of any other member, and yes, that includes Lou Reed. It's apparent the impact he had on the band by comparing the sound of the first two VU records, The Velvet Underground & Nico and White Light/White Heat, and then the following two Cale-less albums, The Velvet Underground and Loaded. Band members has claimed that the sonic change has to do with the band's equipment getting stolen in the LAX airport, but that obviously should be taken with a grain of salt. John Cale's departure wasn't exactly on the best of terms. Though Lou Reed and John Cale reunited for a one night Paris show in 1972, otherwise they practically didn't speak until beginning to work on the Andy Warhol tribute album Songs for Drella in 1989. The two just went in different directions after the VU: Lou Reed becoming more of a glam rockstar while John Cale embraced his composer upbringing, working on Nico's more avant-garde follow-ups to Chelsea Girl, The Marble Index and Desertshore, as well as with Nick Drake on Bryter Layter. He released his first solo album Vintage Violence in 1970 which was met with significant critical acclaim. However two years later he recorded what to this day is regarded as his masterpiece, Paris 1919. It's simultaneously Cale's most accessible yet most rewarding record. It's exquisitely composed yet marks Cale first venture into pop songwriting. I'll be featuring the title track here. It's absolutely gorgeous. I especially love the bridge around the 2:20 mark with the understated bird chirps in the background.

John Cale - Paris 1919

"She makes me so unsure of myself
Standing there but never talking sense
Just a visitor you see
So much wanting to be seen
She'd open up the door and vaguely carry us away

It's the customary thing to say or do
To a disappointed proud man in his grief
And on Fridays she'd be there
And on Wednesday not at all
Just casually appearing from the clock across the hall

You're a ghost la la la
You're a ghost
I'm in the church and I've come
To claim you with my iron drum
la la la la la la

The Continent's just fallen in disgrace
William William William Rogers put it in its place
Blood and tears from old Japan
Caravans and lots of jam and maids of honor
singing crying singing tediously

You're a ghost la la la
You're a ghost
I'm the bishop and I've come
To claim you with my iron drum
la la la la la la

Efficiency efficiency they say
Get to know the date and tell the time of day
As the crowds begin complaining
How the Beaujolais is raining
Down on darkened meetings on the Champs Elysee"

Now John Cale performing "Venus in Furs" on Later with Jools Holland

Final Fantasy's cover of "Paris 1919"

John Cale - Paris 1919


Anonymous said...

Not much to say. He is more famous than viagra online ! And that is saying much! they say every generation has a genius of its own... he's got to be one of those.

Elliot Knapp said...

Paris 1919--great album! Just wrote about it too on my music blog. Have a good one!