Edie Sedgwick was always destined for stardom. Her childlike innocence, striking beauty, and natural charm developed many admirers throughout her short life. Her carefree attitude and, ultimately, tragic end inspired many incredible songs about the ’60s it-girl, even long after her stardom faded.
Although she was born into a wealthy family with high social status, Sedgwick’s life was anything but ideal. Along with her siblings, she was rigidly controlled by her parents and isolated from society on their ranches in California. Because of her tumultuous childhood, Sedgwick began an eating disorder, which would end up lasting most of her life and prove to be a gateway to other destructive behaviour.
But the bad luck changed on her twenty-first birthday in 1964, when she received an $80,000 trust fund from her maternal grandmother. With the money, she moved to New York City to pursue a career in modelling but ended up entering the bustling art scene and meeting the elusive legend, Andy Warhol. After their introduction, Sedgwick began frequently visiting The Factory, and not long after, became Warhol’s muse.
“There seemed to be this almost supernatural glow to her that’s hard to describe. Literally, there was an aura emanating from her, a white or blue aura. It’s as if Edie was illuminated from within. Her skin was translucent — Marilyn Monroe had that quality.” said Factory-goer Robert Heide.
Her status as a magnetic muse is displayed in Warhol films such as Poor Little Rich Girl, Kitchen, and Beauty No. 2, and she soon became everyone else’s muse as well, inhabiting the New York City art scene with a buoyant brilliance that seemed unstoppable.
Sedgwick tragically passed away at the age of 27, but her impact has continued on well into the 21st century with films, fashion, and especially in the form of music. To celebrate the allure of Sedgwick, here are five incredible songs written about 1965’s “Girl of the Year.”
5 Edie Sedgwick-Inspired Songs:
‘Like a Rolling Stone’ – Bob Dylan
At the end of Sedgwick’s reign as Warhol’s it-girl, she supposedly began a brief affair with folk singer Bob Dylan, whom she had met at a Factory Party. Dylan wasn’t a fan of her scene and warned Warhol would discard Sedgwick when he got tired of her.
After Dylan’s awkward visit to The Factory, Sedgwick was put in the middle of their feud. Dylan’s contempt is showcased in lyrics like “Ain’t it hard when you discover that/ he really wasn’t where it’s at/ After he took from you everything he could steal.”
During the rumoured affair, Dylan married girlfriend Sarah Lownds, and Sedgwick was crushed. Although not proven by Dylan, the lyrics resemble Sedgwick’s trust fund baby downfall. Like Dylan predicted, when the star’s 15 minutes of fame was up, and the image of her starring roles in a handful of his films had begun to fade, Warhol discarded her.
‘Femme Fatale’ – The Velvet Underground
During the prime of Warhol’s admiration for Sedgwick, he asked the band he was managing, The Velvet Underground, to write a song about his superstar. According to frontman Lou Reed, when he asked Warhol what he should write about her, Warhol said, “Oh, don’t you think she’s a femme fatale, Lou?”
‘Femme Fatale’ was recorded at the Scepter Studios in New York in April 1966 and included in their debut album titled The Velvet Underground & Nico, which was released the following year. The beautiful song depicted the emotional turbulence of the ’60s while also helping to further build Sedgwick’s image as a heartbreaker within pop culture.
‘Velocity Girl’ – Primal Scream
Released on the B-side to British alternative rock band Primal Scream’s 1986 single, ‘Crystal Crescent,’ ‘Velocity Girl’ was said to be partly inspired by Sedgwick. With lyrics like, “Here she comes again, with vodka in her veins/ Been playing with a spike, she couldn’t get it right/ Splendor in silver dress, velocity possessed/ The world was hers and then it fell apart again,” it represents Sedgwick’s party lifestyle and her ultimate downfall.
The Sedgwick-inspired song proved to be a hit and became a key moment in Primal Scream ascending to their roles as baggy royalty. The track has gone down as one of their best and should be an essential component of your ‘alternative ’80s’ playlists.
‘Girl In A Million (For Edie Sedgwick)’ – Dream Academy
Sedgwick’s legacy experienced a posthumous resurgence in the ’80s with a string of songs inspired by the ’60s it-girl. The proof is in the title with British band Dream Academy’s song ‘Girl In A Million (For Edie Sedgwick).’
In the song, the band touches on Sedgwick’s unhappiness despite her social status and gives a nod to her film Poor Little Rich Girl. The lyrics state, “She was a girl with a million friends/ Poor little girl. Nobody could feel so cold and alone/ Poor little rich girl.”
‘Girl In A Million (For Edie Sedgwick)’ was released in 1985 as a 7” single and the B-side to ‘The Love Parade’ on Reprise Records. The song was also featured on the band’s 2014 compilation album The Morning Lasted All Day: A Retrospective.
‘Edie (Ciao Baby)’ – The Cult
After Sedgwick broke away from Warhol’s factory scene in 1966, she attempted a serious acting career in her own right. But her first role as a solo act became her last as Susan Superstar in Ciao! Manhattan, which was written and directed by John Palmer and David Weisman. Along with Sedgwick’s tragic story, the film was the inspiration behind The Cult’s 1989 song ‘Edie (Ciao Baby).’
The Cult’s frontman, Ian Astbury, became interested in Sedgwick while the band was recording their album Electric in New York: “It was kinda like I was really interested in Warhol’s scene, The Velvet Underground and really interested in Edie Sedgwick and just was compelled to write something about it.”
Guitarist, Billy Duffy added: “Just being in New York you can get wrapped up in it. It’s a very special place. That’s just basically what the songs about. It’s not really about her particularly, it’s her used as an example.”