All Tomorrow's Parties

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"All Tomorrow's Parties"
All Tomorrow's Parties--I'll Be Your Mirror.JPG
Single b/w "I'll Be Your Mirror"
Single by The Velvet Underground and Nico
from the album The Velvet Underground & Nico
ReleasedJuly 1966 (1966-07)
Format7-inch single
RecordedApril 1966
StudioScepter, New York City
GenrePsychedelic rock[1]
  • 2:55 (single)
  • 5:55 (album)
Songwriter(s)Lou Reed
Producer(s)Andy Warhol
The Velvet Underground and Nico singles chronology
"All Tomorrow's Parties" / "I'll Be Your Mirror"
"Sunday Morning" / "Femme Fatale"
Audio sample
Beginning of 3rd verse, with Nico's double-tracked lead vocals

"All Tomorrow's Parties" is a song by the Velvet Underground and Nico, written by Lou Reed and released on the group's 1967 debut studio album, The Velvet Underground & Nico.

Inspiration for the song came from Reed's observation of Andy Warhol’s clique—according to Reed, the song is "a very apt description of certain people at the Factory at the time. ... I watched Andy. I watched Andy watching everybody. I would hear people say the most astonishing things, the craziest things, the funniest things, the saddest things."[2] In a 2006 interview Reed's bandmate John Cale stated: "The song was about a girl called Darryl, a beautiful petite blonde with three kids, two of whom were taken away from her."[3] The song was Andy Warhol's favorite by The Velvet Underground.[4]

The song has notably lent its name to a music festival, a William Gibson novel, and a Yu Lik-wai film. The song also appears prominently in the horror film The Lords of Salem.


The song was recorded at Scepter Studios in Manhattan during April 1966. It features a piano motif played by Cale (initially written as an exercise) based largely on tone clusters. The repetitive keyboard part was inspired by the style of his friend Terry Riley, with whom Cale had played in La Monte Young's mid 1960s group in New York City. It was one of the first pop songs to make use of prepared piano[5] (a chain of paper clips were intertwined with the piano strings to change their sounds). The song also features the ostrich guitar tuning by Reed, by which all of the guitar strings were tuned to D.[4] Drummer Maureen Tucker plays tambourine and bass drum while guitarist Sterling Morrison plays bass, an instrument that he professed to hate, despite his proficiency as a bassist.[6][7]

Nico provides lead vocals. The song was originally recorded with only one track of her vocals; they were later double-tracked for the final album version. Most versions of the album use this version of the song, though the initial 1987 CD release uses the original mix without the double-tracking.


Alternate versions[edit]

Ludlow Street Loft, July 1965[edit]

The earliest known recorded version of "All Tomorrow's Parties" was recorded on reel to reel tape by Lou Reed, John Cale and Sterling Morrison in a New York apartment loft on Ludlow Street. With Reed on acoustic guitar, the song displays a strong influence from the American folk music revival—particularly in Cale and Morrison's harmony vocals—which critic David Fricke[8] suggests demonstrates Reed's fondness for Bob Dylan. This version, released on the Peel Slowly and See box set, is composed of multiple takes, which add up to a time of 18:26.

Single version, July 1966[edit]

An edited version of the song was released in July 1966 as a single with "I'll Be Your Mirror" as a B-side. The song cuts out about half of the studio version at just under three minutes. It did not chart.

This version later became available in 2002 on the "Deluxe Edition" of The Velvet Underground & Nico.

Other Alternate Versions[edit]

An anniversary reissue of the album included an "alternate single voice version" and an "alternate instrumental mix."

Cover versions[edit]

Both Nico and Lou Reed have recorded solo versions of the song. Other artists who have covered it include Jun Togawa, Apoptygma Berzerk,[9] the Ass Ponys, Buffalo Tom, Japan,[10] Bauhaus, Jeff Buckley, Icehouse,[11] Los Tres,[12] The Method Actors, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds,[13] the Oysterband, Tom Robinson, Kikka Sirén, Simple Minds,[14] Siouxsie and the Banshees,[15] Rasputina, Kendra Smith, Bryan Ferry,[16] June Tabor, Johnette Napolitano, Iron and Wine, Deerhoof, Hole, The Music Tapes, Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio , Les Rita Mitsouko, Tractor's Revenge, and Black Tape for a Blue Girl.


  1. ^ DeRogatis, Jim (2003). Turn On Your Mind: Four Decades of Great Psychedelic Rock. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Hal Leonard. p. 80. ISBN 0-634-05548-8.
  2. ^ Fricke, David (1995). Peel Slowly and See liner notes, p.22
  3. ^ "Uncut: John Cale on The Velvet Underground & Nico". Retrieved 12 Feb 2015.
  4. ^ a b Harvard, Joe (2007) [2004]. The Velvet Underground & Nico. 33⅓. New York City: Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 109–110]url-access= registration. ISBN 0-8264-1550-4.
  5. ^ Mitchell, Tim Sedition and Alchemy : A Biography of John Cale, 2003, ISBN 0-7206-1132-6
  6. ^ Hoffman, Eric. "Examinations: An Examination of John Cale". Mental Contagion. Retrieved 24 October 2014. When I had to play viola, Sterling had to play bass, which he hated. According to the website, the quote is from John Cale’s autobiography, What’s Welsh for Zen (NY: St. Martin’s Press (2000).
  7. ^ Pinnock, Tom (18 September 2012). "John Cale on The Velvet Underground & Nico". Uncut. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  8. ^ David Fricke, liner notes for the Peel Slowly and See box set (Polydor, 1995)
  9. ^ "Apoptygma Berzerk's All Tomorrow's Parties cover of The Velvet Underground and Nico's All Tomorrow's Parties". Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  10. ^ "Japan's All Tomorrow's Parties cover of The Velvet Underground and Nico's All Tomorrow's Parties". Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  11. ^ Kelvin Hayes. "The Berlin Tapes review on Allmusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  12. ^ "Los Tres's All Tomorrow's Parties cover of The Velvet Underground and Nico's All Tomorrow's Parties". Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  13. ^ "Full Albums: The Velvet Underground & Nico » Cover Me". Retrieved 2012-01-13.
  14. ^ MacKenzie Wilson. "Neon Lights review on Allmusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  15. ^ "Siouxsie and the Banshees O Baby, Pt. 1 tracklisting on Allmusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 18 July 2013. Also included on the boxset of Downside Up, 2004, Universal.
  16. ^ Raggett, Ned. "Taxi review on Allmusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 18 July 2013.


  1. ^ Loder, Kurt (December 1984). "V.U album liner notes". Verve Records.