Little Sister

Nico hated her first album. The flutes and strings infuriated her and made her cry in frustration. She wanted her music to be weird and terrifying, and soon enough that’s exactly what it became. No other artist has been so eager to strip themselves of every trace of commercial viability. It seems that Nico was one of those people cursed by being born into the wrong body. Her inner self did not match her outward appearance. She looked like a beauty queen but she was crazy and antisocial and full of ugly thoughts known only to herself. She liked darkness and enclosed spaces. She liked drugs of all sorts but especially heroin. She had many lovers but didn’t care to keep any of them very long. One thing she most definitely was not and hated being mistaken for was a pretty girl who makes pretty music. Perhaps the most bizarre – and in its own way very inspiring – thing about Nico was how much she despised the burden of her beauty. I wouldn’t say that she hated the way she looked; she was vain, she liked makeup, she liked coloring her hair. She just hated the way others saw her, the boxes people wanted to put her in because of the way she looked, the habit that men have of trying to mold beautiful women to suit their own fantasies. Everyone she met in her career offered to help her along, but only if she took the role of the malleable muse, which she would not do. She was constantly resisting being molded into one or another idealized image of a gorgeous blonde; mysterious blonde with candelabra for Fellini, wistful blonde singing by the riverbank for Andrew Loog Oldham, icy blonde  as object d’art for Warhol. No one thought to ask what her preferred image of herself was (except maybe Jim Morrison.) So when some guy thought that her debut album needed to have flutes all over it, she was furious. She continued to be exasperated about it, as people stubbornly continued to prefer those songs over her later, weirder ones. Her anger is understandable, but she may have been a little bit wrong about Chelsea Girl; the flutes don’t detract from her beloved darkness because the darkness is in her voice.


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