Songs for Drella
Lou Reed and John Cale’s tribute to Andy Warhol
I’ve been re-listening to Songs For Drella, a great record about Andy Warhol made by Lou Reed and John Cale. The Velvet Underground bandmates were estranged for years until they spoke to each other at Warhol’s funeral in 1987. The painter Julian Schnabel suggested they write something about their former mentor. The 1990 album is the result of their collaboration, and it would be their last record together.
“Drella” was a nickname for Warhol — a portmanteau of “Dracula” and “Cinderella.” It was not necessarily used lovingly, or to his face. It described the contradictory sides to the artist: on the one hand, he was a driven, blood-sucking vampire, and on the other, he was a star-eyed damsel from nowhere who became a superstar.
The songs on the record form an ambivalent autobiography of Warhol. They’re told from multiple perspectives: some are first-person, from Warhol’s point of view, some are third-person, and some are first-person reflections from Reed and Cale.
The record begins with “Smalltown,” which is about Warhol growing up in Pittsburgh:
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Austin Kleon to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.