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Monday, November 13, 2017

In Context: John Cale: The Velvet Underground & Nico

The inveterate experimentalist celebrates 75 years, performing selections from his legendary career, including his landmark work with the Velvet Underground, the baroque pop perfection of Paris 1919, and beyond. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #BAMNextWave.

Program Notes

Archival Collection
John Cale (Leon Levy BAM Digital Archive)
Peruse highlights from Cale's career here at BAM, including a 1967 press release introducing The Velvet Underground.

John Cale's Inventive Retrospection (The New Yorker)
"Cale is not interested in circumventing or prettifying anguish: let it come down. But he doesn’t revel in suffering, either; he figures out what hurting sounds like and then articulates it."

Never-Before-Seen Photos of the Velvet Underground in 1966 (The New York Times)
"Before innovation crystallizes as influence, however, it is bemusing at best, if not altogether maddening."

"I wanted to cross-pollinate rock with the avant-garde, and then I met Lou Reed, and that was the solution," muses Cale.

Givony dishes on the Wordless Music process, its ethos, and the surprising difficulty of finding a silent 35mm print of a film.

Watch & Listen

John Cale on David Bowie and Donald Trump (YouTube)
Cale reminisces on his times at the Mudd Club with Bowie and shares his concern for the prospect of a Trump presidency in this video from February 2016.

Songs for Drella (YouTube)
Songs for Drella is a concept album by Lou Reed and John Cale, both formerly of the Velvet Underground, and is dedicated to the memory of Andy Warhol, their mentor who died unexpectedly in 1987.

Now your turn...

How did you enjoy the show? Likes? Dislikes? Surprises? Tell us what's on your mind in the comments below and on social media using #BAMNextWave.


  1. Great to hear this ground breaking album again! Despite not being the most charismatic of of performers, Cale is musically sharp and assembled some talented musicians/vocalists to take on the daunting task of filling some big shoes. I do wish he had played the songs in the original order...and that he had introduced all of the performers.

  2. Unbelievable show!!! Can't believe I was able to see John Cale doing the Velvet's seminal album live in my lifetime. Absolutely fantastic!!

  3. Brilliant! Loved, loved, loved!

  4. I was lucky to see John Cale's 2013 performance of Paris 1919 at BAM, and was so excited that he was coming back to play one of my fave albums. I was expecting to feel a sense of nostalgia when I heard the music, but I didn’t. There was an energy and vitality on the stage last night that made the music come alive in a fresh way. The light show was spot-on, and the sublimely chaotic jam that ended the final number was thrilling.