Venus in Furs (song)
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|"Venus in Furs"|
|Song by the Velvet Underground|
|from the album The Velvet Underground & Nico|
|Released||March 12, 1967|
|Studio||T.T.G., Hollywood, California|
|Genre||Art rock|
"Venus in Furs" is a song by the Velvet Underground, written by Lou Reed and originally released on the 1967 album The Velvet Underground & Nico. Inspired by the book of the same name by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, the song includes sexual themes of sadomasochism, bondage and submission.
"Venus in Furs" was one of three songs to be re-recorded, in May 1966 at T.T.G. Studios in Hollywood, before appearing on the final mix of The Velvet Underground & Nico (the other two being "Heroin" and "I'm Waiting for the Man"). The arrangement features John Cale's cacophonous electric viola as well as Lou Reed's ostrich guitar, which is a guitar with all of its strings tuned to the same note. The more prominent guitar work is Reed's guitar at standard tuning, albeit a semitone down. Guitarist Sterling Morrison played bass on the song, but according to Cale, who was the band's usual bassist, Morrison never cared for the instrument. The backbeat consists of two bass drum beats and one tambourine shake, played at a slow pace by Maureen Tucker.
In his essay "Venus in Furs by the Velvet Underground", Erich Kuersten writes:
"There is no intro or buildup to the song; the track starts as if you opened a door to a decadent Marrakesh S&M/opium den, a blast of air-conditioned Middle Eastern menace with a plodding beat that’s the missing link between "Bolero" and Led Zeppelin’s version of "When the Levee Breaks".
- Lou Reed – lead vocals, lead guitar, ostrich guitar
- John Cale – electric viola
- Sterling Morrison – bass
- Maureen Tucker – tambourine, bass drum
Ludlow Street Loft, July 1965
The song was one of several early songs to be recorded by Lou Reed, John Cale and Sterling Morrison in their Ludlow Street loft during July 1965. This version of the song features a drastically different arrangement than would appear on The Velvet Underground & Nico, and ends with what David Fricke calls a "stark, Olde English-style folk lament" in the liner notes for Peel Slowly and See (the 1995 compilation album upon which the Ludlow demos appear). John Cale provides lead vocals for this demo recording of the song.
Scepter Studios, April 1966
An alternate take of the song was first recorded at Scepter Studios, New York City before being re-recorded in Hollywood. This take of the song is performed at a quicker pace and the lyrics vary slightly from the T.T.G. recording.
Norman Dolph acetate and Factory rehearsal
The 2012 deluxe six-CD boxed set, celebrating the album's 45th anniversary features, as Disc 4, the original version of the album, cut to acetate on April 26, 1966, known as the "Norman Dolph acetate". This features a version with more of Cale's viola in the arrangement. Additionally, on the same disc, there is a "fun version" recorded on January 3, 1966, during rehearsals at Warhol's Factory.
In film and TV
A version of the song was specially recorded by Julian Casablancas for the HBO television series Vinyl. It appeared on the soundtrack of the second episode during a flashback to Andy Warhol's Factory, alongside Run Run Run.
In the British TV series Being Human, the song is used prominently in season 2, episode 5.
In 1965, the Velvet Underground appeared in Piero Heliczer's underground film, Venus in Furs, which was named for the song. Heliczer, the Velvets, and the other performers were featured in a CBS News segment titled "The Making of an Underground Film" which aired in December of that year. This brief appearance turned out to be the only network television exposure for either Heliczer or the band.
In 1993, the song was used as the soundtrack for a British advertisement for Dunlop Tyres, by the advertising agency Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and directed by British director Tony Kaye. The advertisement was notable for featuring both fetish and surrealist imagery.
Lou Reed recorded several solo versions of the song and John Cale also performs it with his band. In addition, the following artists have recorded it:
|Artist||Year||Appears on album|
|Paul Gardiner||1981||(released only as single)|
|Niagara||?||Beyond the Pale compilation|
|Melvins||1991||Here She Comes Now/Venus in Furs (split single with Nirvana)|
|Christian Death||1993||Path of Sorrows|
|The Smashing Pumpkins||1994||Mashed Potatoes|
|Rosetta Stone||1996||Hiding in Waiting EP|
|Miłość||1997||Talkin' About Life and Death|
|Bettie Serveert||1998||Plays Venus in Furs and Other Velvet Underground Songs|
|The Creatures (Siouxsie's second band)||1999||Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Now Buy Zulu (also referred to as simply "Now Buy Zulu")|
|Dave Navarro||2001||Trust No One|
|Hugh Cornwell||2002||Footprints in the Desert|
|Berry Sakharof||2003||Berry Sakharof Live (CD 2)|
|Krieg||2004||The Black House|
|Monster Magnet||2004||Monolithic Baby! (US version bonus track)|
|DeVotchKa||2006||Curse Your Little Heart EP|
|Chuck Dukowski Sextet||2006||Eat My Life|
|Boxcar Preachers||2006||Autobody Experience|
|Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio||2006||Apocalips|
|Broken Records||2009||Radio Scotland - Vic Galloway Live Session|
|Sendelica feat. Alice Davidson (vocals)||2011||The Pavilion of Magic and the Trials of the Seven Surviving Elohim; previously released on the A Nice Pear EP (2010)|
|Until The Ribbon Breaks||2015||Los Angeles|
Additionally, the early David Bowie composition "Toy Soldier," recorded with his band The Riot Squad in 1967, lifts its chorus almost verbatim from "Venus in Furs." Bowie had received a test pressing of The Velvet Underground and Nico from his manager before the album was officially released.
- Discogs - T.T.G. Studios (Hollywood) profile and discography
- The ostrich guitar appears at the end of the song.
- 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).
- Tom Pinnock (18 September 2012). "John Cale on The Velvet Underground & Nico". Uncut. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
- Erich Kuersten. "Venus in Furs by the Velvet Underground". mcsweeneys.net. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
- Robert Lawson (2013). "The Velvet Underground & Nico". Retrieved 31 October 2013.
- Lewis, David. "Piero Heliczer". allmovie.com. Retrieved October 31, 2014.
- Unterberger, Richie (2009). White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day by Day. Jawbone Press. ISBN 978-1-906002-22-0.
- "Dunlop 'magician' by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO". Campaignlive. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
- "Melvins's Venus in Furs cover of The Velvet Underground's Venus in Furs". WhoSampled.com. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
- Allmusic. "The Path of Sorrows review on Allmusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
- "Full Albums: The Velvet Underground & Nico | Cover Me". Covermesongs.com. Retrieved 5 August 2010.
- Don Kline. "Trust No One review on Allmusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
- "Footprints in the Desert review on Allmusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
- "The Black House review on Allmusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
- "Positions review on Allmusic". Allmusic.
- James Christopher Monger. "Curse Your Little Heart review on Allmusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
- on YouTube
- "Velvet Underground & Nico "Venus In Furs"". Beck.com. Retrieved 17 July 2013.