The Velvet Underground – Pale Blue Eyes

9th March 2024 · 1960s, 1969, Music

This is, and always has been since I first heard it, my favourite song of all time. It’s just perfect in its simplicity: wistful, dreamy, mournful and melancholic.

I didn’t hear it until a decade or so after it was written by Lou Reed. At the age of seven I would not have been ready for the Velvet Underground, even at their most mellow.

Despite the title, Lou’s lyric is about a woman who had hazel eyes in real life, he later revealed in his book Between Thought And Expression. She was Shelley Albin, the first love of Lou’s life, and she was married to another man.

And despite the demo recorded by Reed and John Cale in 1965, it did not appear on record until the Velvets’ self-titled third album four years later.

By then Cale had left the band and been replaced by Doug Yule on Hammond organ and bass, joining Reed and Sterling Morrison on guitar and Moe Tucker with her tambourine.

I never need an excuse to hear it again but I got one watching Win Wenders’ wonderful film Perfect Days (named after another Reed song), in which it appears.

And I want it to be played at my funeral.