If you’ve grown up with Nico as a strong female role model, you really never even had a chance of turning out normal. Nico herself, of course, never had a chance of turning out normal, not with the life she was given. Her status as … Continue reading The Sphinx
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 … Continue reading Somewhere There’s a Feather
Nico is the voice of your sexiest nightmares, the kind you wake up from feeling clammy and disturbed. Discovering Nico is like sliding down a very scary rabbit hole. Her music sounds so apocalyptic because it appears she was living her own personal apocalypse her … Continue reading Sixty-Forty
Just in case you were feeling good about something. Let Nico bring you down. Who knows what kind of internal purgatory that woman lived in, but it’s clear from the soundscapes she composed that she wasn’t a merry spirit. She made it a point to … Continue reading Roses in the Snow
His lips are purple because he is dead. It’s a fitting love song coming from Nico, who doesn’t do love songs. Nico was nearing the end of her life, and heavily weathered by hard living. She had renounced all glamour, and her music at this … Continue reading Purple Lips
Nico wasn’t fond of musical niceties such as string sections; her urge was always towards the atonal. But despite her general disinterest in things of beauty, she could sometimes be convinced to produce something pretty. And some of her greatest works were the ones where strings … Continue reading No One Is There
Holy Mother of Goth. Few rock icons are as shrouded in myth as Nico. Because she revealed so little of herself, most of what we know about her is hearsay and conjecture. Because of her mystery, her beauty and her tragic end, she has the … Continue reading Nibelungen
In Nico’s world, even maternal love is an ominous thing. She was not a good mother. Her attempts at mothering her son Ari included locking him in a closet – for safety or to keep him quiet, or both, who knows – while she dropped … Continue reading My Only Child
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.
There is something truly terrifying about this song. Nico’s music tends to be frightening overall. She was a morose person who poured a lot of herself into her music, but declined to explain what any of it meant. A lot of her life is cloaked in mystery; she didn’t care to speak of it very much, and when she did speak of herself it was hard to tell if she was serious or, in her inscrutable way, just trolling. Did she really take acting classes with Marilyn Monroe? What happened to her during the war? What was she up to in Ibiza before she died? We’ll never know. She kept a lot of secrets. We do know that her life was no ordinary one, nor was it easy or happy, and she carried a lot of demons. So when she envisions herself as an all powerful ruler who can offer to fill every need – at a price – the vision is a disturbing one. She would know about rulers powerful and seductive; she’d experienced a few, from her childhood in Nazi Germany, to the years she spent consumed by heroin addiction. Whatever it means or refers to, Nico’s vision was always very personal. So personal she felt no need to offer any explanation for it. All she did was share it, with what small number wanted to hear.