It was a remarkable time, but not exactly a golden age. Haynes respects art too much to idealize artists, or to impose a retrospective harmony on their dissonances. The overt cruelty and threat of music – the buzz and distortion behind the lyrics about drug addiction, sadism, and sexual exploitation – did not come out of nowhere.
Film critic Amy Taubin, who appeared in a Warhol film about “the most beautiful women in the world,” bluntly recalls that the Factory, Warhol’s headquarters, was a bad place for women, who were valued for their appearance. appearance rather than for their talents. One aspect of Warhol’s genius was a knack for using people, and often using them. Reed, who died in 2013, is a posthumously beloved figure, but few of his contemporaries would describe him as a pleasant person.
And kindness was, anyway, antithetical to what the Velvet Underground was trying to do. “We hated that shit of peace and love,” Tucker says. Artist Mary Woronov, who has toured with the Velvets on the West Coast, explains their hostility to the Californian counterculture: “We hate hippies. Never a political group, it nonetheless articulated a powerful protest – against sentimentality, stupidity, false consciousness and positive thinking – that would sow the seeds of punk rock and later rebellions. Evidence of their influence is provided by singer-songwriter Jonathan Richman, who estimates that he saw them live 60 or 70 times as a teenager in Boston, and whose enthusiasm is not tarnished more than a half a century later.
Drop a needle on any Velvet Underground record – or queue up a playlist, if that’s how you ride – and what you’ll hear will sound new, spooky, and full of possibilities, even on the thousandth listen. “The Velvet Underground” will show you where this perpetual novelty comes from and connect the sound points to other contemporary artistic eruptions. As a documentary, it’s wonderfully informative. It is also a jagged and powerful work of art in its own right, which turns archeology into prophecy.
The velvet metro
Ranked R. “Heroine”, “Furry Venus”, “Sister Ray” – you do the math. Duration: 1 hour 50 minutes. In the cinema and on Apple TV +.