The Influence Of ‘The Velvet Underground’ Still Resonates After 60 Years
Apple TV+ has released the trailer for Todd Haynes’ upcoming documentary, The Velvet Underground, that premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The documentary will arrive in theaters and on the streaming platform on October 15.
The documentary chronicles the life of the seminal avant-garde rock band, The Velvet Underground, and what made them so influential in rock ‘n’ roll history.
The film features interviews, never-before-seen footage, and performance snippets to provide insights on how Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, Maureen Tucker, and mentor and manager Andy Warhol became one of the most influential acts in music history.
The film will be supplemented by a two-CD digital soundtrack featuring rare Velvet Underground tracks and released via Republic Records and UMe. Haynes curated the soundtrack with the film’s music supervisor, Randall Poster.
'The Velvet Underground' Plot
The Velvet Underground was at the top with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, yet this is the first real documentary that details their career.
Director Haynes, known for his acclaimed fiction films like Carol, I’m Not There, and Velvet Goldmine revealed to Deadline at Cannes what drew him to make this film. He noted he found the band’s success interesting, given that back in the '60s, there was no internet or digital culture.
I think it’s a product of a unique and specific decade that has been well-described for that kind of creative vitality, spanning all genres of music and all kinds of recording artists during the 1960s.
He added that the band’s fame was intensified by the “locale and this geographic concentration of New York itself.”
The documentary explores the origin story of the iconic band through the lens of 1960/70’s New York City, which was a melting pot of art, music, drugs, and culture. The novice band found their unique but recognizable voice and became known as the creative misfits.
In the docu-film, surviving band members Tucker and Cale noted that Reed’s unique sound was so weird it “shouldn’t have existed in this space and sounded like nothing else.”
The Influence of The Velvet Underground
The '60s was The Beatles era, but in musical terms, The Velvet Underground was the future of rock.
Lyrically, they explored taboo subjects, from drug use, alternative lifestyles to sadomasochism and other forms of subculture interests. Some people found their music cynical, but Cale and Reed lived in the future than the present.
Musically, they incorporated innovative elements such as mixing orchestral elements with electric instruments to create sonority and mood in their music that was so unique it became their trademark.
They explored various musical styles, and every one of their albums (The Velvet Underground & Nico, White Light/White Heat, The Velvet Underground, and Loaded) differed from the last. They had no distinct sound, and it was a testament to their creativity.
The music they produced launched a dozen musical subgenres and movements such as underground and experimental music, indie and alternative punk, post-punk, and art-punk.
They paved the way for the coming generation of musicians and artists to pursue music freely and fearlessly.