Somewhere There’s a Feather

Insofar as someone like Nico could be said to have hits, Chelsea Girl is loaded with them. Classic songs that have outlived whatever small notoriety the singer herself had in life. Nico’s ghostly later work hasn’t had the halflife that Chelsea Girls has. Unlike the material over which she had full creative control, these songs at least take a recognizable form, they can linked – in sound if not at all in spirit – to other 1960’s folk music sung by dewy blondes. Nothing enraged Nico more than being mistaken, because of her looks, for a wistful girl. She despised the production of her first album, with its strings and its romanticism, although it was her biggest success. However, it has become, against the singer’s self-conception, a musical shorthand for quirky romantic disaffection, songs for the dorm room angst of gifted students gacked out on antidepressants. As opposed to what Nico really wanted to convey: the despair of people with needles in their mainline.

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