Lady Godiva's Operation

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"Lady Godiva's Operation"
Song by the Velvet Underground
from the album White Light/White Heat
ReleasedJanuary 30, 1968 (1968-01-30)
RecordedSeptember 1967
StudioScepter Studios, New York City
Songwriter(s)Lou Reed
Producer(s)Tom Wilson

"Lady Godiva's Operation" is a song by the Velvet Underground from their second album, White Light/White Heat (1968). The lyrics of the first half of the song, sung by John Cale, describe Lady Godiva; the lyrics of the second half, sung by Cale alternating with Lou Reed, are full of oblique, deadpan black humor and describe a botched surgical procedure, implied to be either a lobotomy or a sex change.[1][2] Cale plays electric viola while Sterling Morrison plays bass, an instrument that he disliked, despite his competent abilities.[3][4]

The song was covered by the Fatima Mansions as a single.[5]



  1. ^ Wawzenek, Bryan (30 March 2018). "Doctor, Doctor, Give Me the News: 40 Songs About Doctors". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 22 August 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ Thacker, Kyle (16 November 2011). "Yearbook: the Velvet Underground". Heave Media. Retrieved 22 August 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ 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)).
  4. ^ Pinnock, Tom (18 September 2012). "John Cale on The Velvet Underground & Nico". Uncut. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  5. ^ Green, Jim. "Fatima Mansions". Trouser Press. Retrieved 22 February 2016.