For Your Weekend Listening Pleasure: On Lou Reed's 70th, The VU's Other 1969 Dallas Show

Categories: Music
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Via.
The official version of the Velvet Underground's visit to The End of Cole in the fall of 1969 makes up one of the greatest live albums of all time: 1969: The Velvet Underground Live, though truth is much of it comes from a month-later set at The Matrix in San Francisco. That's the record from which the Cowboys Junkies would lift their "Sweet Jane" years later -- the one with the bit about heavenly wine and roses, the slow version, by far the best version of that immortal.

It's also the record that opens in Dallas, with Lou Reed asking the crowd about curfews, about whether it wants one long set or two short ones. "Pull up your cushions," he says, sounding friendly than I've ever heard him, "or whatever else you have with you that makes life bearable in Texas." The crowd moans. But Lou quickly wins 'em over by talking Cowboys-Eagles, a Dallas blowout. And then, straight into: "I'm Waiting for the Man."

That show was October 19, 1969 -- which I didn't know till years later was the second night of the band's visit. And so, tonight, on the occasion of Lou Reed's 70th birthday, I leave you with this: The Velvet Underground at End of Cole on October 18, 1969. Happy birthday, Lou; Merry Christmas to us all.

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Both shows were recorded by the same guy: Jeff Leegood. During the first set he was far away from the stage; for the second, much closer, invited up, given a comfy spot, which is why it makes up The Official Document. Here's a great oral history of the Velvets' visit, told by those who were there, among them Leegood, who recounts:
[The Velvets were] regular people. Sterling used to smoke, so he was quiet and stoned. Lou and Mo were pretty nice. Doug Yule was kind of a dick. They weren't into drugs. Lou might have done some diet pills, but they didn't do hard drugs, at least not then, and they didn't like being around people who did. They just sang about it. Lou would say, "I saw it on Dragnet." In hindsight, I wish I'd taken films. There were no videos then, but I had access to an Aries 16mm camera.
This is a deservedly beloved boot often referred to as The First Night; if nothing else, it's complete in a way the official release isn't, and you can experience an in-its-entirety Velvet Underground set -- the constant ebb and flow, the control and chaos, the gentle rock and pulverizing roll that gets chopped into pieces on the 1969 two-fer. It even comes with a second section, known as the After-Show Jam, which takes some work to get all the way through. But, hey, we've got nothing time.


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14 comments
What Goes On
What Goes On

That VU  show was probably almost as good as the night the Feelies played Clearview

Joenickp
Joenickp

Robo, you oughta give a tip of the Hatlo Hat to the MAC's Claude Albritton, who owned End of Cole and used to get shaken down every time he crossed the tracks from the club into Highland Park where he lived. 

Bucks Burnett
Bucks Burnett

Also - Sterling Morrison was hanging out in Dallas a LOT in the early/mid 90's. He was a serious Potatoes groupie. I'm not kidding. He would drive from Houston to see The Potatoes, and we would visit the next day. He came to my place and played my guitar. I took him eating, shopping, drinking - he was a great guy and loved Dallas. Loved to rave on about his favorite guitarist, Billy Gibbons. I later told Billy Gibbons this and he nearly fainted. He should've.

Bucks Burnett
Bucks Burnett

The Velvets also played an unannounced set at a birthday party at the Bathouse on White Rock lake during this visit, because they were invited to, by a fan. My source? Sterling Morrison.

Jason
Jason

Well, sir, if this is your Swan Song for last Weekend Listening, well done!  

LaceyB
LaceyB

I didn't get turned on to V.U. until a few years ago, but, man, what a treat. "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" is still one of my favorite songs ever. Something about it that you can just get lost in for a few minutes. Hmmm.

Mike Haskins
Mike Haskins

When Reed asks the audience if they want one long set, or two short ones, Walter Ray Brock answers, "One long one." Brock went on to (a very limited) fame as Farfisa organist with the Nervebreakers in 1975-76. There was no cause and effect here, as far as I know.

Bob
Bob

God, I love the V.U. That reminds me, Robert. Did the Modern Lovers - the original lineup - play in Dallas? Would you continue your weekly music posts on a blog or Twitter? I am assuming you will not be doing so in the DMN. Or will you?

Parisrec
Parisrec

i dunno..i kinda liked it...

Lisaperry478
Lisaperry478

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Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

 I'll figure out something -- I have a music idea down the road. A few, actually. All goes to plan, big and  great and meaningful stuff to come, sooner than later I hope.

Bucks Burnett
Bucks Burnett

I just want cute comments about the weather - especially if there will be icey roads. And big photos of you smiling on DART buses with the slogan "Walk On The Wild Side - Of Wilonsky's World!" You gotta be holding a puppy. The puppy stays in the picture. And a special gossip section on the oft-neglcted Grapevine scene, called the Grapevinevine. LOTS of great ideas like this, at a FABULOUS price!

Txfreelancer
Txfreelancer

Was just gonna ask a similar question. There's got to be another place where you can keep posting this stuff. Loved the Brent Best piece last weekend. Always find good stuff here. Hoping to see more somewhere else.

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