Can a masterpiece be evil?
Could gruesome make us soar?
And does art know good or bad or care?
Velvet Underground’s Heroin is a bleak, violent, thrashing, murder-suicide of an anthem, a droning, drowning, glorious fixation on self-hate, self-medicating, an escape of the now, an escape from these surroundings, an escape to all that’s next. A profound admission of vanity and weakness.
“And I feel just like Jesus’ son.”
Anointed, but without the suffering.
The brand of a generation?
Heroin is a magnum opus, a 7-minute encapsulation of the lost and excesses of the 1960s, enlightening in its lyrical revelation and fully revealing of the wayward musical talents of the group. It may be my favorite song ever, as much as I deride its message and all that led to its creation. But that threatening drumbeat, that eager guitar, the curious viola, a rhythmic intensification of life lived fast and wrong, which still all soon goes to hell, culminating in a crescendo of alt-pop madness
“Then thank God that I’m as good as dead.”
“And thank your God that I’m not aware.”
“And thank God that I just don’t care.”
Simply one of the greatest Rock God compositions ever, a track so perfect that it can’t be unheard, nor ignored, and which demands you affirm its greatness, despite the profound flaws. Velvet Underground tried for the kingdom, stormed the gates, and died in a righteous fury. They did not nullify their life.