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#Creativity – the ‘ugly beauty’ of The Velvet Underground

March 25, 2017

We can all learn a lot from the creativity of The Velvet Underground – the way they sounded so different from other music going on at the time – in the late 60s.


VU tamb e2da1a385b01bc82e58f768ee888a561

I mainly got into The Velvet Underground when I was a university student in the 80s when a friend with broader music tastes introduced me to their sound.



As I was a pretentious and impressionable Arts student – I loved the arty experimentation of The Velvets and how they tried to combine art and music and how they dared to be different.

One of the many things I loved about their sound was what I describe as an ‘ugly beauty’ or should that be a ‘beautiful ugliness’?


Anyway, for me, there was always this ‘exquisite tension’ between beauty and ugliness.


cale viola VU


For example, John Cale played the viola  – but it often wasn’t ‘pretty viola’ but an ugly sounding viola – like in the chorus “I am tired…I am weary’ part of Venus in Furs. The ugliness is in both the notes AND the sound. I guess he’s trying to inflict music pain – which suits the song 🙂

Also, the piano in the closing bars of “I’m Waiting for my Man” sounds like it’s played with a full hand or even a fist bashing on the notes. It’s ugly and discordant – but fits the mood of the song.

It’s a delight to play that style in live performance.


Egg compile


That friend who introduces me to the music of the Velvets is playing lots of Lou Reed and Velvet’s songs with our band we formed back at university.


The band is called “Eugene and The Egg”. I reckon we should call our music offering the EGG-sploding Plastic Inevitable.

EPI VU af487ca0c7c3fc5561786042d4b14b4d

For the performances, we are using a trash can as drums/percussion.



17309269_10210452565243567_349855352279865668_nThis is inspired by the Velvet’s drummer Moe Tucker who, when her drums were stolen, improvised with trash cans.



Let’s just say that playing on a trash can produces a suitably ugly sound for some of the songs. I’ll have to keep working to get the beautiful part right to achieve that creative combination of ‘ugly beauty”!







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