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The Velvet Underground - Heroin

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Uploaded on Jun 8, 2008

Though largely ignored upon its release, it has since become one of the most influential and critically lauded rock albums in history, appearing as #13 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time as well as being added to the 2006 National Recording Registry by the Librarian of Congress.

On the 1996 CD reissue, the banana image is on the front cover while the image of the peeled banana is on the inside of the jewel case, beneath the CD itself.

Much of the album's sound was conceived by John Cale, who stressed the experimental qualities of the band. Cale, who was influenced greatly by his work with La Monte Young, John Cage and the early Fluxus movement, encouraged the use of alternative ways of producing sound in music. Cale thought his sensibilities meshed well with Lou Reed's, who was already experimenting with alternative tunings. For instance, Reed had "invented" the ostrich guitar tuning for a song he wrote called "The Ostrich" for the short-lived band The Primitives. Ostrich guitar tuning consists of all strings being tuned to the same note. The method was utilized on songs "Venus in Furs" and "All Tomorrow's Parties". Often, the guitars were also tuned down a whole step, which produced a lower, fuller sound that Cale called "sexy".

Track History: "Heroin" is a song by The Velvet Underground, released on their 1967 debut album, The Velvet Underground and Nico. Written by Lou Reed in 1964, the song is one of the band's most celebrated compositions, overtly depicting heroin use and abuse. Critic Mark Deming writes, "While 'Heroin' hardly endorses drug use, it doesn't clearly condemn it, either, which made it all the more troubling in the eyes of many listeners".[1]

In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked it #448 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In 2006, Pitchfork Media ranked it #77 on their list of the 200 Greatest Songs of the 1960s. In 2007 Mental Floss magazine listed it as one of ten songs that changed the world. "Heroin" was among a three-song set to be re-recorded at T.T.G. Studios, Hollywood before being included on the final release of The Velvet Underground and Nico (along with "I'm Waiting for the Man" and "Venus in Furs"). This recording of the song would be the album's second longest at 7 minutes and 12 seconds, being eclipsed only by "European Son" by about thirty seconds.

"Heroin" begins slowly with Lou Reed's quiet, melodic guitar and hypnotic drum patterns by Maureen Tucker, soon joined by John Cale's droning electric viola and Sterling Morrison's steady rhythm guitar. The tempo increases gradually, mimicking the high the narrator receives from the drug, until a frantic crescendo is reached, punctuated by Cale's shrieking viola and the more punctuated guitar strumming of Reed and Morrison. Tucker's drumming becomes hurried and louder. The song then slows to the original tempo, and repeats the same pattern before ending.

The song is based on a D flat and a G flat major chords. Like "Sister Ray", it features no bass guitar. Rolling Stone magazine said "It doesn't take much to make a great song," since the song only featured three chords.

Lyrics: When Im rushing on my run
And I feel just like jesus son
And I guess I just dont know
And I guess that I just dont know

I have made very big decision
Im goin to try to nullify my life
cause when the blood begins to flow
When it shoots up the droppers neck
When Im closing in on death

You cant help me not you guys
All you sweet girls with all your sweet talk
You can all go take a walk
And I guess I just dont know
And I guess I just dont know

I wish that I was born a thousand years ago
I wish that Id sailed the darkened seas
On a great big clipper ship
Going from this land here to that
I put on a sailors suit and cap

Away from the big city
Where a man cannot be free
Of all the evils in this town
And of himself and those around
Oh, and I guess I just dont know
Oh, and I guess I just dont know

Heroin, be the death of me
Heroin, its my wife and its my life
Because a mainer to my vein
Leads to a center in my head
And then Im better off than dead

When the smack begins to flow
Then I really dont care anymore
About all the jim-jims in this town
And everybody putting everybody else down
And all of the politicians makin crazy sounds
All the dead bodies piled up in mounds, yeah

Wow, that heroin is in my blood
And the blood is in my head
Yeah, the gods good as dead
Ooohhh, God that Im not aware
I just dont care
And I guess I just dont know
And I guess I just dont know

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