Would this play have been written without the influence of the Velvet Underground song, Venus In Furs?
I doubt it. Would this play have been written without Lou Reed first writing the lyrics, taking the Sacher-Masoch book as his inspiration, and effectively adapting it into a 5 minute rock song? I don’t think so. I would hazard to guess that David Ives was first drawn to the original novel after having heard the song, and not before. I can’t be completely sure about this, but it stands to reason. The book has been around since the 1870’s, but hasn’t always been in print, whereas, the song has been around since 1967 and was first released on the album, The Velvet Underground & Nico, and yes, it sold dismally when it first was released, but has gone on to achieve the status of a rock classic; it was listed at number 13 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time as well as being added to the 2006 National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress. So, I think that I’m right in assuming that Lou Reed’s song about bondage, domination and submission which must have shocked and appalled critics and listeners when it was first released in 1967 has had a profound effect on our culture since, and has been a major influence on David Ives.
So, I think it’s appropriate that I take some time to write a few lines about Lou Reed and the extensive musical legacy he has left us. The word, “Rock” is in this theater company’s title, after all, and I feel the need to acknowledge the marvelous, shimmering musical gift he has left behind for all of us when he departed this life this past October.
Without a doubt, Lou was a true artist whose canvas was rock and roll. He delighted in pushing the boundaries of what was possible in a rock song, lyrically and sonically; he was a master story teller whose songs were like short stories in a book, or chapters in a novel which comprised an entire record album.
For those of us who were looking for more in rock and roll than the mainstream crap on the radio or what record companies were shoving down our throats in their relentless search for the next big hit, Lou Reed’s music was pure, reviving water in a desert of superficiality. Lou never lied to us. He was like an undercover investigative journalist armed with a guitar who was scouring the filthy urban streets in search of the truth, uncovering uncomfortable, dirty faults; faults in the city, in the government, in lovers, and in himself. Nothing and no one was safe from his scrutiny.
He took on right wing politicians who hypocritically espouse family values in Sex With Your Parents, raked Jesse Jackson over the coals in Good Evening Mr. Waldheim, and he exposed the thoughtless polluting of the environment in Last Great American Whale. In songs dripping with vitriol, Lou called them like he saw them and let the chips fall. But he could also be extremely funny, just check out I’m Sick Of You, or Women, or I Want To Be Black. And he could bring a tear to your eye as well, singing of “the glory of love” in Coney Island Baby , or in Sad Song, the powerful, mournful climax to his rock opera, Berlin.
Without Lou there would be no Walk On The Wild Side, or Dirty Blvd., or Vicious, or Heroin, or All Tomorrow’s Parties, or I’m Waiting For The Man, or Romeo Had Juliette, or Femme Fatale, or Sally Can’t Dance, or White Light/White Heat, or Rock And Roll; no Sweet Jane, no Perfect Day, and no Venus In Furs.
I hope Lou got to see this play when it was running in New York. I know he loved the Theater. This play was so popular, the hottest ticket in town, so I’m betting that you saw it, Lou. I’m betting that you saw it, and that you took Laurie to it, or she took you, and you both saw it. I hope it made you smile. This is for you, Lou baby.