What Goes On (Velvet Underground song)

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"What Goes On"
What Goes On - Jesus.jpg
Single by The Velvet Underground
from the album The Velvet Underground
ReleasedMarch 1969 (1969-03)
RecordedNovember - December 1968 at T.T.G. Studios, Hollywood
Songwriter(s)Lou Reed
Producer(s)The Velvet Underground
The Velvet Underground singles chronology
"White Light/White Heat"
"What Goes On"
"Who Loves The Sun"

"What Goes On" is a song by the Velvet Underground. It was the only single released from their 1969 eponymous third album.

The song was recorded in 1968 at T.T.G. Studios in Hollywood.[1]

A concert performance of the song, with Doug Yule on keyboards, was included on their double live album 1969: The Velvet Underground Live.[2]


Yule, Morrison (back) and Reed (front) in a magazine advertisement for the single

Cover versions[edit]

The Doctors of Madness used to play this song live in 1977–1978. Roxy Music singer Bryan Ferry performed "What Goes On" (with elements of "Beginning to See the Light") on his 1978 solo album The Bride Stripped Bare.

The "What Goes On" organ riff was used in the Talking Heads song "Once in a Lifetime," featured on their 1980 album Remain in Light.[4]

It was also recorded by the Feelies on their 1988 album Only Life, Elizabeth Mitchell on her 2006 album You Are My Little Bird, The Screaming Trees on the 2009 compilation album Unpiecing the Jigsaw - A Tribute to The Velvet Underground[5] and the Dils on numerous live albums.

Jim Kerr recorded it as the B-side to "Shadowland" in 2010, and later included it on the B-side to a 7" single included with the special edition of the Lostboy! AKA Jim Kerr CD.

Toy performed "What Goes On" for a Radio 6 Music session in 2012 and featured it on their Make It Mine EP released later that year.


In 1978, aficionados Mike "MC" Kostek and Phil Milstein started the Velvet Underground Appreciation Society, which collected, cataloged and made available various rarities.[6] They also published a fanzine titled "What Goes On", and later on a newsletter titled "What Goes On Jr."[7]


  1. ^ Discogs - T.T.G. Studios (Hollywood) profile and discography
  2. ^ Unterberger (2009)
  3. ^ "Robert Caruso". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  4. ^ "Once in a Lifetime". The 100 most important American musical works of the 20th century. National Public Radio broadcast. 27 March 2000. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  5. ^ "Unpiecing the jigsaw: A Tribute to The Velvet Underground" by Dave Thompson, AllMusic.com
  6. ^ Zak (1997)
  7. ^ Le Velours Souterrain

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]