My first year in college was not so glamorous. Night after night of crazy parties? No. Frisbee on a sunny manicured lawn with preppy guys in polo shirts? No. Long, indulgent meals at all all-you-can-eat dorm cafeteria that features a pizza station, roast carving station, and frozen yogurt machine? Well, yes, that part was actually true (so was the Freshman 15).
The Sad Walk Around Hyde Park
The truth is, I was pretty homesick. I'd moved from LA to Chicago, not knowing a soul. My only consolation was Sundays, when I'd listen to The Velvet Underground and Nico and take a long solo walk to the record store (Dr Wax, RIP).
The album's opening track, "Sunday Morning," was a wistful and soothing song that got me out of my bunk bed. The song's notable celesta, played by John Cale, along with Lou Reed's smooth, reassuring voice lulled me into a contented calm. (It was only later that I paid attention to the lyrics, which are about extreme paranoia: "Sunday morning / And I'm falling / I've got a feeling I don't want to know." Oh, well.)
No, Actually It Was the Best
The whole album is dark and enchanting, and really, more appealing to me than the antics of Animal House or the transformative Good Will Hunting experience. And really, if you are like me, once you get into the Velvet Underground, you're on the path to finding out about an entire world of music, art, and film that you'd always hoped existed. Eventually, I joined my university's radio station, WHPK, and it changed my life forever.
Aw, don't you love a happy ending?
This March marks the 50th Anniversary of The Velvet Underground and Nico. It's available on CD or streaming on Hoopla, along with the rest of the Velvet Underground discography. And don't forget the excellent solo albums of Lou Reed, Nico, John Cale, and Maureen Tucker.
What album(s) did you listen to in college?