1001 Songs Challenge,  1960s,  Music

1001 Songs Challenge #232: Venus in Furs (1967)

On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.

My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.

I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.

So long as I post everyday (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…

 

The Velvet Underground – Venus in Furs (1967)

Back to the US today, dear reader, and we return to New York to partake of the company of The Velvet Underground. This is a second appearance for the group with their previous entry on our list being Heroin, a rather controversial song upon release. Today’s offering is equally brave in terms of its subject matter and explores an area that not everyone will be comfortable with. Venus in Furs is based on the 1870 novella of the same name by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch which explored the world of sexual relationships in the form of bondage, submission and sadomasochism. I don’t think we’ve had any songs about this on our list so far. 

Venus in Furs has Lou Reed on lead vocals and he channels Sacher-Masoch’s novella with some – shall we say – risque material depending on the individual listening. We hear about “shiny boots of leather”, “taste the whip” and calling upon the mistress to strike an individual and “cure his heart”. The song evokes the world of bondage and submission, this individual practically worships the unnamed mistress in those leather boots and carrying that whip. This is a tough and dangerous kind of love, the kind that would be considered taboo for many people but certainly not for all. 

Venus in Furs is another one of those songs I knew really well but had never bothered to figure out who it was. Listening once again I realise how obvious it is with Lou Reed having such a distinct voice. The music instantly grabs you and Lou Reed takes you on a tour of this seductive and punishing sexual landscape. Like the novella it takes its name from, Venus in Furs must have been quite an eyebrow raising song upon its release, even for a sexually liberating decade like the 1960s. Sadomasochism and submission are still controversial subjects to this day though don’t have the same stigma as they once did. Venus in Furs conveys this dark sexual world and brings a hint of romance to the table as well. It’s a great song and a refreshingly fearless one as well.

 

Favourite songs so far:

Ben E. King – Stand By Me (1961)

The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)

Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)

The Righteous Brothers – Unchained Melody (1965)

The Who – Substitute (1966)

The Rolling Stones – Paint It Black (1966)

The Beach Boys – God Only Knows (1966)

The Beatles – Eleanor Rigby (1966)

The Doors – The End (1967)

The Velvet Underground – Venus in Furs (1967)

My name is Dave and I live in Yorkshire in the north of England and have been here all my life. I hope you enjoy your visit to All is Ephemeral.

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