Songs for Drella

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Songs for Drella
Studio album by
ReleasedApril 11, 1990 (1990-04-11)
RecordedDecember 1989 – January 1990
StudioSigma Sound (New York City)
GenreArt rock
  • Lou Reed
  • John Cale
Lou Reed chronology
New York
Songs for Drella
Magic and Loss
John Cale chronology
Words for the Dying
Songs for Drella
Wrong Way Up

Songs for Drella is a 1990 studio album by Lou Reed and John Cale, both formerly of the Velvet Underground; it is a song cycle about Andy Warhol,[1] their mentor, who had died following routine surgery in 1987. Drella was a nickname for Warhol coined by Warhol superstar Ondine, a contraction of Dracula and Cinderella, used by Warhol's crowd but never liked by Warhol himself. The song cycle focuses on Warhol's interpersonal relations and experiences, with songs falling roughly into three categories: Warhol's first-person perspective (which makes up the vast majority of the album), third-person narratives chronicling events and affairs, and first-person commentaries on Warhol by Reed and Cale themselves. The songs, in general, address events in their chronological order.


Lou Reed and John Cale spoke to one another for the first time in years at Warhol's memorial service at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York on April 1, 1987. The painter Julian Schnabel suggested they write a memorial piece for Warhol. On January 7 and 8, 1989, Cale and Reed performed an almost-completed Songs for Drella at The Church of St. Anne's in Brooklyn.[2] Still, as Cale was wrapping up Words for the Dying, and Reed had finished and was touring with his New York studio album (both 1989), the project took another year to complete. The first full version (notably with the inclusion of "A Dream" in one performance) was played on November 29–30, and December 2–3 at the Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.[3] On December 4–5, 1989, a live performance—without an audience—was filmed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, directed by Ed Lachman, and released on VHS and LaserDisc formats.[4][5] Over the following two months, Reed and Cale proceeded to record the material for the album, which was released on April 11, 1990 by Sire Records.

The album was the pair's first full collaborative record since the Velvet Underground's second studio album White Light/White Heat (1968), and by the end of recording Cale vowed never to work with Reed again due to personal differences; plans to support the album with a tour were shelved. Nevertheless, Songs for Drella would prove to be the prelude to a Velvet Underground reunion: after playing a Drella selection on June 15, 1990, at a Warhol/Velvet Underground exhibition at the Cartier Foundation in Jouy-en-Josas, Reed and Cale were joined onstage by Sterling Morrison and Maureen Tucker for a rendition of the Velvet Underground song "Heroin",[6] which eventually led to the first and last Velvet Underground reunion, which took place in 1993 (after which Cale and Reed, again, vowed never to work with one another again).

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Chicago Sun-Times[8]
Chicago Tribune[9]
Entertainment WeeklyB−[10]
Los Angeles Times[11]
Rolling Stone[14]
The Village VoiceA−[16]

Songs for Drella received positive reviews and critical praise upon release. In a four-star review, Rolling Stone writer Paul Evans stated "Both nearing fifty, Reed and Cale are the survivors Warhol wasn't fated to become. In popular music, only bluesmen and country greats have managed the maturity these two display."[14] Spin described Songs for Drella as "a moving testament to one of the '60s most important icons" and named it one of the Top 20 albums of 1990.[17]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Lou Reed and John Cale

Side A
No.TitleLead vocalsLength
1."Smalltown"Lou Reed2:04
2."Open House"Lou Reed4:18
3."Style It Takes"John Cale2:54
4."Work"Lou Reed2:38
5."Trouble with Classicists"John Cale3:42
6."Starlight"Lou Reed3:28
7."Faces and Names"John Cale4:12
Side B
No.TitleLead vocalsLength
8."Images"Lou Reed3:31
9."Slip Away (A Warning)"Lou Reed3:05
10."It Wasn't Me"Lou Reed3:30
11."I Believe"Lou Reed3:18
12."Nobody But You"Lou Reed3:46
13."A Dream"John Cale6:33
14."Forever Changed"John Cale4:52
15."Hello It's Me"Lou Reed3:13
Total length:52:54


  • "Nobody But You" b/w "Style It Takes" – 7" Germany 1990
  • "Nobody But You"; "Style It Takes" b/w "A Dream" – 12" & CD-single Germany 1990



Chart performance for Songs for Drella
Chart (1990) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[18] 100
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[19] 28
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[20] 14
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[21] 28
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[22] 42
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[23] 43
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[24] 18
UK Albums (OCC)[25] 22
US Billboard 200[26] 103


  1. ^ Pareles, Jon (December 1, 1989). "Review/Rock; 'Songs for Drella,' A Tribute to Warhol". The New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  2. ^ Fear Is A Man's Best Friend fansite - John Cale setlists 1989: New York 1989-01-08
  3. ^ Fear Is A Man's Best Friend fansite - John Cale setlists 1989: New York 1989-11-30
  4. ^ Fear Is A Man's Best Friend fansite - John Cale on screen: Songs for Drella video (includes link to full video online)
  5. ^ Songs for Drella video at Internet Movie Database
  6. ^ Fear Is A Man's Best Friend fansite - John Cale setlists 1990: Jouy-En-Josas 1990-06-15
  7. ^ Deming, Mark. "Songs for Drella – Lou Reed / John Cale". AllMusic. Retrieved November 14, 2015.
  8. ^ McLeese, Don (April 23, 1990). "'Songs for 'Drella' weave velvet elegy to Warhol's genius". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved June 27, 2023.
  9. ^ Kot, Greg (January 12, 1992). "Lou Reed's Recordings: 25 Years Of Path-Breaking Music". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  10. ^ Sandow, Greg (April 27, 1990). "Songs for 'Drella". Entertainment Weekly. New York. Archived from the original on October 10, 2015. Retrieved December 11, 2022.
  11. ^ Hochman, Steve (April 24, 1990). "A Moving Remembrance of Andy Warhol". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 14, 2015.
  12. ^ Martin, Gavin (April 28, 1990). "Drella Killer". NME. London. p. 37. Archived from the original on June 22, 2000. Retrieved January 25, 2016.
  13. ^ Cooper, Mark (May 1990). "Lou Reed and John Cale: Songs for Drella". Q. No. 44. London.
  14. ^ a b Evans, Paul (May 17, 1990). "Songs for Drella". Rolling Stone. New York. Retrieved November 14, 2015.
  15. ^ Marchese, David (November 2008). "Discography: Lou Reed". Spin. Vol. 24, no. 11. New York. p. 67. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  16. ^ Christgau, Robert (September 25, 1990). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved November 14, 2015.
  17. ^ Greer, Jim (December 1990). "Albums of the Year". Spin. Vol. 6, no. 9. New York. p. 54. Retrieved June 27, 2023.
  18. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (PDF ed.). Mt Martha, Victoria, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 232.
  19. ^ " – Lou Reed & John Cale – Songs for Drella" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved September 10, 2022.
  20. ^ " – Lou Reed & John Cale – Songs for Drella" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved September 10, 2022.
  21. ^ " – Lou Reed & John Cale – Songs for Drella" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved September 10, 2022.
  22. ^ " – Lou Reed & John Cale – Songs for Drella". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 10, 2022.
  23. ^ " – Lou Reed & John Cale – Songs for Drella". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 10, 2022.
  24. ^ " – Lou Reed & John Cale – Songs for Drella". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 10, 2022.
  25. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 10, 2022.
  26. ^ "Lou Reed Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved September 10, 2022.

External links[edit]