Leaving It Up to You

Here’s someone we haven’t heard from in a while, both on this blog and in real life. What has John Cale been up to lately? His last album, curiously titled Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood, was released in 2012 to so little fanfare that I did not know of its existence until this very minute. What he’s done since then, I don’t know. Seeing as he’s the last surviving member of Velvet Underground, he needs to step up and make himself visible as one of punk’s many godfathers/figurehead of unquestionable cool/band spokesperson. Yes, I realize that Moe Tucker is still kicking around somewhere down in Georgia, but since she’s become an adamant Tea Partier/crazy person, it’s best that she remains as far off the cultural radar as possible. It remains that Cale is now the last of the Velvets standing, and the burden of maintaining their legacy falls entirely on him, even if he doesn’t like it. I have no idea who or what entity controls the actual music and what’s done with it – those legalities can be complicated and invariably very dull – but when you’re dealing with a group of overwhelming cultural significance, someone has to handle the job of carrying the torch in terms of making sound bytes, weighing in on issues of grave import, endorsing things that meet your approval, griping about things that don’t, answering the same dumb questions from each consecutive wave of eager biographers, reaching out to fans, paying tribute to fallen comrades, and just generally making sure that the legend remains well burnished. Up til recently, Lou Reed handled all of those things, but now all the attention The Velvet Underground still attracts will be reflected entirely upon John Cale, so he’d better be prepared for much heavier traffic of fans bearing dog-eared copies of White Light/White Heat upon his front door.


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