Rock & Roll (The Velvet Underground song)

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"Rock & Roll"
Sweet Jane-Rock & Roll.png
Single by the Velvet Underground
from the album Loaded
A-side "Sweet Jane"
Released August 1973 (1973-08)
Format 7-inch single
Recorded April 15, 1970
Genre Proto-punk[1]
Length 4:47
Label Atlantic
Songwriter(s) Lou Reed
  • Geoff Haslam
  • Shel Kagan
  • The Velvet Underground

"Rock & Roll" (sometimes spelled Rock 'n' Roll) is a song by the Velvet Underground, originally appearing on their 1970 album Loaded. The song was written by the Velvets' then-leader Lou Reed, who continued to incorporate the song into his own live performances years later as a solo artist.[2]

The song recounts the advent of rock & roll, telling the story of a girl named Jenny whose "life was saved by rock and roll.”

In the liner notes to the Velvet Underground's box set Peel Slowly and See, Lou Reed wrote, "'Rock and Roll' is about me. If I hadn't heard rock and roll on the radio, I would have had no idea there was life on this planet. Which would have been devastating - to think that everything, everywhere was like it was where I come from. That would have been profoundly discouraging. Movies didn't do it for me. TV didn't do it for me. It was the radio that did it."

The song also appears on the albums 1969: The Velvet Underground Live; Live MCMXCIII; Loaded: Fully Loaded Edition; American Poet; Another View; Rock 'n' Roll Animal; Live in Italy; Rock and Roll: an Introduction to The Velvet Underground.; Rock and Roll Diary: 1967–1980.

Notable covers and pop culture uses[edit]

"Rock & Roll" has appeared in a number of films, including A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, Rock 'n' Roll High School and SLC Punk!

A clip of the Velvet Underground performing the song is played on completion of the Rock & Roll wonder in Civilization IV. In addition, the quote about researching the technology "Radio," read by Leonard Nimoy, is "...then one fine morning she puts on a New York station.... You know, her life was saved by rock & roll." The quote is credited to Lou Reed.

Mitch Ryder's band, Detroit, which featured Lou Reed's future guitarist Steve Hunter, performed one of the first cover versions of the song in 1971. Other artists to cover the song include The Runaways,[3][4] Jane's Addiction, both of whom changed the lyrics to refer to their own city instead of Reed's New York, and Phish.

An adaptation of the song from the album Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans by Uffie is written by Reed himself, although some controversy surrounds the creation and use of the song itself.[5]


  1. ^ Doyle Greene (17 February 2016). Rock, Counterculture and the Avant-Garde, 1966-1970: How the Beatles, Frank Zappa and the Velvet Underground Defined an Era. McFarland. p. 15. ISBN 978-1-4766-2403-7. 
  2. ^ "Rock & Roll". Song Stories. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 28 August 2013. 
  3. ^ Discogs - Secrets 1976 Japan
  4. ^ Discogs - You Drive Me Wild / Rock-N-Roll 1977 France
  5. ^ Nissim, Mayer (15 July 2010). "Uffie: 'Lou Reed was f***ing difficult'". DigitalSpy. Retrieved 1 June 2015.