Watch Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds covering The Velvet Underground live, 1987
While self-isolation and social distancing measures continue, we’re stepping back into the Far Out Magazine Vault to revisit the momentous moment when Nick Cave put his spin on a Velvet Underground classic.
‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’, a song by the Velvet Underground and Nico which was originally written by Lou Reed, was first released as part of the band’s momentous 1967 debut studio album. According to Reed himself, the song is “a very apt description of certain people at the Factory at the time,” he said in reference to Andy Warhol’s Factory Studio in New York City. “I watched Andy,” he added. “I watched Andy watching everybody. I would hear people say the most astonishing things, the craziest things, the funniest things, the saddest things.”
In reflection, Reed’s Velvet Underground bandmate John Cale was drawn into a discussion about the track, in which he stated a contradictory source of inspiration: “The song was about a girl called Darryl, a beautiful petite blonde with three kids, two of whom were taken away fromher.” Regardless of the source, ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’ remains to this day one of The Velvet Underground’s most celebrated songs.
While the likes of Bauhaus, Jeff Buckley, Siouxsie and the Banshees and countless others have attempted to cover the song in their own unique way in the years that followed its release, we’re focusing on a certain rendition brought to you by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
During a performance in Dvorana Kodeljevo, Ljubljana, Slovenia back in 1987, Cave and the Bad Seeds ran through a momentous live performance which not only included a live version of ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’, but covers of John Lee Hooker, Johnny Cash, Jimmy Webb and more alongside their own material.
Cave’s first association with the song came a year prior to their performance in Slovenia when The Bad Seeds released their album Kicking Against the Pricks in 1986. The record was made up of a collection of cover versions and marked the debut of drummer Thomas Wydler. “It allowed us to discover different elements, to actually make and perform a variety of different sorts of music successfully,” Cave once said of the album. “I think that helped subsequent records tremendously.”
When discussing the song choice for the album, the Australian singer said: “They were all done for different reasons. Basically a list of songs were made and we tried to play them. Some songs were tributes, like the Tom Jones song; other songs we didn’t think the song was ever done particularly well in the first place.”
He added: “Some songs had just kind of haunted my childhood.”
Below, enjoy our favourite from the record, a darker take on a Lou Reed classic.