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The Velvet Underground (1970)

Cowboy Junkies – (1988)

Almost twenty years ago,’96 I would like to say… I was given a mix tape by a teacher/mentor in college; he was encouraging my shy, insecure 18-year-old self’s singing talents; I pursued that deal on and off for a while and well, that’s another story(s) or upcoming chapter, god knows right? So, a mixtape was still quite rare in the peak of compact disc era and I was lucky enough to get this gift which included The Velvet Underground song ‘Sweet Jane’ from their final album, 1970’s Loaded. I recognised the voice somewhat, Lou Reed wasn’t it? Seen the guy on tv, doesn’t really sing, sounds like Bob Dylan. I listen to the tape a few times; spiritualized, house of love, nick cave and this song, have to learn it for playing with said mentor in a local bar. And I sang it, along with the manics ‘she is suffering’. joy division’s ‘love will tear us apart, radiohead’s ‘creep’, the smiths ‘ girlfriend in a coma’, nick cave & pj harvey’s ‘ballad of henry lee, house of love’s ‘beatles and the stones’. Hahaha, sounding like typical outsider teen indie touchstones right? but that was what i was into, man. they were my entry points into self-expression in public. ‘sweet jane’ was the oldest song; upbeat, killer vocal delivery carrying a addictive simple three chord riff that hooked into you; simple, poetic, catchy. at the time, I didn’t give much of a shit, stuck in britpop land. maybe three or four years pass and the velvet underground make sense. Sweet Jane reveals itself in a new light. a classic of the American songbook, i feel. around the same time, natural born killers soundtrack on playback in my job at tower records and cowboy junkies whisper into my ear. It’s the same song but different. restructured, softened, dipped in morphine and it’s inextricable from the mescaline fueled satire cinema trip of Stones movie. Reed’s has spiky,exuberant defiance,communal almost. Is that too precious? the junkies one soothes,trembles to the touch. Ok, I’m finished. Did all of that make sense? Christ, I need a drink. what have you got? put ‘sweet jane’ on again, man. good times.

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