The Velvet Underground were an underlying influence on pretty much every band that came out of New York following their undeniable impact on the music scene of the time. Their alt-pop gems may have been relatively untouched by the mainstream in their day but their reach is unstoppable.
One song which is held very dear to the hearts and minds of the band’s fans is the falling beauty of ‘Venus In Furs’. Below is a rarely heard acoustic demo of the track, sung by John Cale.
‘Venus In Furs’ was released by the band on their iconic album The Velvet Underground & Nico and acts as a quintessential reference point for the band. It’s so synonymous with the darker side of life it has been covered by a host of musicians. It marries the dark tones of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s novel with some intrinsic pop sensibilities.
The track was written by the astounding mind of Lou Reed and was a prominent moment on the band’s 1967 record. It incorporates sexual themes of sadomasochism, bondage and submission, all dressed up in the kind of folk ditty which had permeated the airwaves in the sixties.
But while Greenwich Village was full to the brim of folkies desperate for five minutes on the stage of a smokey local coffeehouse to sing about the opportunity for love and peace, Lou Reed and John Cale were writing songs about the excitement of violent passion.
The demos have been thrown around for some time and were included on Peel and Slowly See, the demos collection that came out in 1995, and for any fan, they’re a must-listen experience.
The song is played three times over, the full 15 minutes of material providing an interesting insight into the band’s process as Lou Reed, John Cale and Sterling Morrison get together to create one of their most iconic songs.
Listen below to the acoustic demo of The Velvet Underground’s ‘Venus In Furs’, all 5 minutes of it: