Mendelsohn: I love the way this album starts off with the airy feel of “Sunday Morning” and its ambiguous, non-threatening lyrics. After that it’s all downhill, like picking up a rock and peering into the seedy underbelly of urban America in the 1960s. It’s fantastic. Except the parts where Nico sings. I could do without that.
Klinger: Ah, but Mendelsohn, without Nico there might not be a Velvet Underground as we know it. Allow me to oversimplify: Andy Warhol essentially pulled Lou Reed, John Cale, and Co. from obscurity in order to have a backing band for his newly-discovered “chanteuse”, offering up his brand name and connections in exchange for hearing her Kissinger-esque tones on vinyl. After they got in the studio, actual producer Tom Wilson was so taken with Nico’s Teutonic appeal that he insisted that Reed write a single just for her. Somehow that song became “Sunday Morning”, and Lou ended up singing it anyway (I’m not sure how that happened; I’m assuming a blonde wig and some coquettish flirting were involved).
Mendelsohn: It’s funny; I can’t stand Nico, but without her Warhol wouldn’t have tapped the Velvet Underground and without the Velvet Underground, the whole art house rock/avant/noise/punk thing wouldn’t have spawned a ton of different bands that I (and you) love. Instead, rock would sound very clean and happy—somewhere between the Beatles and the Beach Boys—and that would get old quick.