The Gift (The Velvet Underground song)
|Song by The Velvet Underground from the album White Light/White Heat|
|Released||January 30, 1968|
|Recorded||September 1967, Scepter Studios, New York City, New York|
|Genre||Spoken word, proto-punk|
|Composer||John Cale, Sterling Morrison, Maureen Tucker, Lou Reed|
|White Light/White Heat track listing|
"The Gift" is the second track that appears on White Light/White Heat, the 1968 second album by The Velvet Underground. The song is over eight minutes long and mixed in such a way that a short story can be heard in the left speaker, while a rock instrumental is heard on the right.
The narrative concerns Waldo Jeffers, a lovesick youth, who has engaged in a distressing long-distance relationship with his college girlfriend Marsha Bronson. After their school terms end, Waldo returns to his hometown of Locust, Pennsylvania. He becomes increasingly paranoid over the course of two months, worried that Marsha might not stay faithful to him as promised. More than anything, he fears constantly that she will engage in sexual promiscuity. Lacking the requisite money to visit her in Wisconsin, he concocts a plan to mail himself to her in a large cardboard box, expecting it will be a welcome surprise to Marsha. He ships himself on Friday.
The following Monday, Marsha is having a discussion with her friend Sheila Klein about Bill, a man that Marsha slept with the previous night. When the package arrives at the door, the two struggle to open the box while Waldo waits excitedly inside. Unable to open the box by other means and frustrated, Marsha retrieves a sheet metal cutter from her basement and gives it to Sheila, who stabs straight through the box as well as Waldo's head.
The instrumental track, entitled "The Booker T", was originally developed from live jams the band used to play during the brief time in which Lou Reed was ill and unable to perform with the band. Original drummer Angus Maclise briefly returned to the band to play drums while Maureen Tucker played bass guitar. The song is named after Booker T. Jones of Booker T. & the M.G.'s.
The remastered version was released on the 1995 Peel Slowly and See box set, and subsequently released on a standalone 1996 CD.
A live version appears on Live MCMXCIII.
- John Cale - spoken word, bass
- Lou Reed - guitar
- Sterling Morrison - guitar
- Maureen Tucker - percussion