SONGS FOR DRELLA - A Fiction

 

 

 

SONGS FOR DRELLA - A Fiction is a brief musical look at the life of Andy Warhol and is entirely fictitious. We start with Andy growing up in a "Smalltown" - "There's no Michelangelo coming from Pittsburgh." He comes to New York and follows the customs of "Open House" both in his apartment and the Factory. "It's a Czechoslovakian custom my mother passed on to me/the way to make friends Andy is to invite them up for tea." He travels around the world and is in his words "Forever Changed." He knows the importance of people and money in the art world ["Style is all it takes"] and follows his primary ethic, "Work - the most important thing is work." He can copy the classicists but feels "the trouble with the classicists, they look at a tree/that's all they see/ they paint a tree ..." Andy wished we all had the same name "Faces and Names." He becomes involved with movies - "Starlight." He is interested in repetitive "Images" - "I love images worth repeating ... see them with a different feeling." The mortality rate at the Factory is rather high and some blame Andy - "It wasnot me who shamed you ..." The open house policy leads him to being shot ["I Believe"]. He had been warned but a new, locked door approach at the Factory caused him to wonder "... if I have to live in fear/where will I get my ideas ... slowly Slip Away?5 One night he has 'A Dream,' his relationships change ... "A Nobody Like You." He dies recovering from a gall bladder operation. Chocolates were his weakness. We miss him very much. "Hello, It's Me."

- Lou Reed

 

SONGS FOR DRELLA is a collaboration, the second Lou and I have completed since 1965. I must therefore say that although I think he did most of the work, he has allowed me to keep a position of dignity in the process. It therefore remains, as intended, a tribute to someone whose inspiration and generosity offered over the years is now remembered with much love and admiration.

- John Cale

 

 

 

SONGS FOR DRELLA - A Fiction 1990

Originally co-commissioned by The Brooklyn Academy Of Music and The Arts At St. Ann's.

 

1. Small Town

2. Open House

3. Style It Takes

4. Work

5. Trouble With Classicists 

6. Starlight

7. Faces And Names

8. Images

9. Slip Away (A Warning)

10. It Wasn't Me

11. I Believe

12. Nobody But You

[13. A Dream]

14. Forever Changed

15. Hello It's Me

 

 

 

SMALL TOWN

 

When you're growing up in a small town

When you're growing up in a small town

When you're growing up in a small town

You say no one famous ever came from here

When you're growing up in a small town

and you're having a nervous breakdown

and you think that you'll never escape it

Yourself or the place that you live

Where did Picasso come from

There's no Michelangelo coming from Pittsburgh

If art is the tip of the iceberg

I'm the part sinking below

When you're growing up in a small town

Bad skin, bad eyes - gay and fatty

People look at you funny

When you're in a small town

My father worked in construction

It's not something for which I'm suited

Oh - what is something for which you are suited?

Getting out of here

I hate being odd in a small town

If they stare let them stare in New York City

as this pink eyed painting albino

How far can my fantasy go?

I'm no Dali coming from Pittsburgh

No adorable lisping Capote

My hero - Oh do you think I could meet him?

I'd camp out at his front door

 

There is only one good thing about small town

There is only one good use for a small town

There is only one good thing about small town

You know that you want to get out

 

When you're growing up in a small town

You know you'll grow down in a small town

There is only one good use for a small town

You hate it and you'll know you have to leave

 

 

 

 

 

OPEN HOUSE

 

Please

Come over to 81st street I'm in the apartment above the bar

You know you can't miss it, it's across from the subway

and the tacky store with the mylar scarves

My skin's as pale as outdoors moon

My hair's silver like a Tiffany watch

I like lots of people around me but don't kiss hello

and please don't touch

It's a Czechoslovakian custom my mother passed on to me

The way to make friends Andy is invite them up for tea

Open house, open house

 

I've got a lot of cats, here's my favorite

she's lady called Sam

I made a paper doll of her - you can have it

That's what I did when I had St.Vitus dance

It's a Czechoslovakian custom my mother passed on to me

Give people little presents so they remember me

Open house, open house

 

Someone bring the vegetables, someone please bring heat

My mother showed up yesterday, we need something to eat

I think I got a job today they want me to draw shoes

The ones I drew were old and used

They told me to draw something new

Open house, open house

 

Fly me to the moon, fly me to a star

But there are no stars in the New York sky

They're all on the ground

You scared yourself with music, I scared myself with paint

It almost made me faint

Open house, open house

 

 

STYLE IT TAKES

 

You've got the money, I've got the time

You want your freedom, make your freedom mine

'Cause I've the style it takes

and money is all that it takes

You've got connections, I've got the art

You like my attention and I like your looks

and I have the style it takes

and you know the people it takes

Why don't you sit right over there, we'll do a movie portrait

I'll turn the camera on and I won't even be there

A portrait that moves, you look great I think

I'll put the Empire State Building on your wall

For 24 hours glowing on your wall

Watch the sun rise above it in your room

Wallpaper art, a great view

I've got a Brillo box and I say it's art

It's the same one you can buy at any supermarket

'Cause I've got the style it takes

And you've got the people it takes

This is a rock group called The Velvet Underground

I show movies on them

Do you like their sound

'Cause they have a style that grates and I have art to make

Let's do a movie here next week

We don't have sound but you're so great

You don't have to speak

You've got the style it takes (Kiss)

You've got the style it takes (Eat)

I've got the style it takes (Couch)

We've got the style it takes (Kiss)

 

 

 

 

 

WORK

 

Andy was a Catholic, the ethic ran through his bones

He lived alone with his mother, collecting gossip and toys

Every Sunday when he went to Church

He'd kneel in his pew and say, "It's just work,

all that matters is work."

Andy was a lot of things, what I remember most

He'd say, "I've got to bring home the bacon, someone's

got to bring home the roast."

He'd get to the factory early

If you'd ask him he'd tell you straight out

It's just work, the most important thing is work

No matter what I did it never seemed enough

He said I was lazy, I said I was young

He said, "How many songs did you write?"

I'd written zero, I'd lied and said, "Ten."

"You won't be young forever

You should have written fifteen"

It's work, the most important thing is work

It's work, the most important thing is work

"You ought to make things big

People like it that way

And the songs with the dirty words - record them that way"

 

Andy liked to stir up trouble, he was funny that way

He said, "It's just work, all that matters is work"

Andy sat down to talk one day

He said decide what you want

Do you want to expand your parameters

Or play museums like some dilettante

I fired him on the spot, he got red and called me a rat

It was the worst word that he could think of

And I've never seen him like that

It's just work, I thought he said it's just work

Work, he said it's just work

Andy said a lot of things, I stored them all away in my head

Sometimes when I can't decide what I should do

I think what would Andy have said

He'd probably say you think too much

That's 'cause there's work that you don't want to do

It's work, the most important thing is work

Work, the most important thing is work

 

 

 

 

 

TROUBLE WITH CLASSICISTS

 

The trouble with a classicist he looks at a tree

That's all he sees, he paints a tree

The trouble with a classicist he looks at the sky

He doesn't ask why, he just paints a sky

 

The trouble with an impressionist, he looks at a log

And he doesn't know who he is, standing, staring, at this log

And surrealist memories are too amorphous and proud

While those downtown macho painters are just alcoholic

The trouble with impressionist is The trouble with impressionist is

 

The trouble with personalities, they're too wrapped up in style

It's too personal, they're in love with their own guile

They're like illegal aliens trying to make a buck

They're driving gypsy cabs but they're thinking like a truck

The trouble with personalities is

The trouble with personalities is

 

I like the druggy downtown kids who spray paint walls and trains

I like their lack of training, their primitive technique

I think sometimes it hurts you when you stay too long in school

I think sometimes it hurts you when you're afraid to be called a fool

The trouble with classicists is

The trouble with classicists is

 

 

 

 

STARLIGHT

 

Starlight open wide, starlight open up you door

This is New York calling with movies on the street

Movies with real people, what you get is what you see

Starlight open wide, Andy's Cecil B. DeMille

Come on L.A. give us a call

We've got superstars who talk, they'll do anything at all

Ingrid, Viva, Little Joe, Baby Jane, and Eddie S.

But you better call us soon before we talk ourselves to death

Starlight open wide everybody is a star

Split screen 8-hour movies

We've got color, we've got sound

Won't you recognize us, we're everything you hate

Andy loves old Hollywood movies, he'll scare you hypocrites to death

You know that shooting up's for real

That person who's screaming, that's the way he really feels

We're all improvising, five movies in a week

If Hollywood doesn't call us - we'll be sick

Starlight open wide

Do to movies what you did to art

Can you see beauty in ugliness, or is it playing in the dirt

There are stars out on the New York streets

We want to capture them on film

But if no one wants to see them

We'll make another and another

Starlight let us in that magic room

We've all dreamt of Hollywood,

it can't happen too soon

Won't you give us a million dollars the rent is due

And will give you 2 movies and a painting

Starlight open wide!

 

 

 

 

 

FACES AND NAMES

 

Faces and names, I wish they were the same

Faces and names only cause trouble for me

Faces and names

If we all looked the same and we all had the same name

I wouldn't be jealous of you or you jealous of me

Faces and names

I always fall in love with someone who looks

the way I wish that I could be

I'm always staring at someone who hurts

And the one they hurt is me

Faces and names, to me they're all the same

If I looked like you and you looked like me

There'd be less trouble you see

Faces and names I wish they'd go away

I'd disappear into that wall and never talk

Faces and names

I wish I was a robot or a machine

Without a feeling or a thought

People who want to meet the name I have

Are always disappointed when they meet me

Faces and names, I wish they were the same

Faces and names only cause problems for me

Faces and names

I'd rather be a hole in the wall - looking out on the other side

I'd rather look and listen, listen and not talk

To faces and names

I had a breakdown when I was a kid

I lost my hair when I was young

If you dress older when you're not, as your really age you look the same

If we all looked the same, we wouldn't play these games

Me dressing for you and you dressing for me - undressing for me

Faces and names if they all were the same

You wouldn't be jealous of me o me jealous of you

Me jealous of you - I'm jealous of you

Your face and your name

Your face and your name

Faces and names

 

 

 

 

 

IMAGES

 

I think images are worth repeating

Images repeated from a painting

Images taken from a painting

From a photo worth re-seeing

I love images worth repeating, project them upon the ceiling

Multiply them with silk screening

See them with a different feeling

Images

Images

Images

Images

 

Some say images have no feeling, I think there's a deeper meaning

Mechanical precision or so it's seeming

Instigates a cooler feeling

I love multiplicity of screenings

Things born anew display new meanings

I think images are worth repeating and repeating and repeating

 

I'm no urban idiot savant spewing paint without any order

I'm no sphinx, no mystery enigma

What I paint is very ordinary

I don't think I'm old or modern, I don't think I think I'm thinking

It doesn't matter what I'm thinking

It's the images that are worth repeating

Images

Images

Images

Images

 

If you're looking for a deeper meaning, I'm as deep as this high ceiling

If you think technique is meaning, you might find me very simple

You might think that images boring

Cars and cans and chairs and flowers

You might find me personally boring

Hammer, sickle, Mao Tse Tong, Mao Tse Tong -

I think that it bears repeating the images upon the ceiling

I love images worth repeating and repeating and repeating

Images

Images

Images

Images

 

 

 

 

 

SLIP AWAY (A WARNING)

 

People said to lock the door and have an open house no more

The said the Factory must change and slowly slip away

But if I have to live in fear, where will I get my ideas

With all those crazy people gone, will I slowly slip away

 

Still there's no more Billy Name, and Ondine is not the same

Wonton and the Turtle gone

Slowly slip away...slowly slip away

If I close the Factory door and don't see those people anymore

If I give in yo infamy...I'll slowly slip away

I know it seems that friends are right

Hello daylight, goodbye night

But starlight is so quiet here, think I'll slowly slip away

 

What can I do by myself, it's good to here from someone else

It's good to hear a crazy voice that will not slip away

Will not slip away

 

If I have to live in fear my ideas will slowly slip away

If I have to live in fear I'm afraid my life will slip away

If you can't see me past my door

Why your thoughts could slowly slip away

If I have to lock the door, another life exists no more

Slip away

 

Friends have said to lock the door

Watch out for who comes through the door

The said the Factory must change

But I don't

 

 

 

 

 

IT WASN'T ME

 

It wasn't me who shamed you, it's not fair to say that

You wanted to work I gave you a chance at that

It wasn't me who hurt you, that's more credit that I'm worth

Don't threaten me with the things you'll do to you

 

It wasn't me who shamed you, it wasn't me who brought you down

You did it to yourself without any help from me

It wasn't me who hurt you, I showed you possibilities

The problems you had were there before you met me

 

I didn't say this had to be

You can't blame these things on me

It wasn't , it wasn't me, it wasn't me

I know she's dead, it wasn't me

 

It wasn't me who changed you, you did it to yourself

I'm not an excuse for the hole you dropped in

I'm not simple minded but I'm not father to you at all

Death exists but you do things to yourself

 

I never said give up control

I never said stick a needle in your arm and die

It wasn't , it wasn't me, it wasn't me

I know she's dead but it wasn't me

 

It wasn't me who shamed you, who covered you with mud

You did it to yourself without any help from me

You act as I could've told you or stopped you like some god

But people never listen and you know that that's a fact

 

I never said slit your wrists and die

I never said throw your life away

It wasn't , it wasn't me, it wasn't me

You're killing yourself - you can't blame me

 

"Andy did some incredibly generous things for me. But he had

made it clear he was not some mutant artist-father responsible

for us all. This often resulted in cruelty, but I agreed with

his position."

 

(Taken from Lou Reed's "Between Thought and Expression")

 

 

 

 

 

I BELIEVE

 

Valerie Solanis took the elevator got off at the 4th floor

Valerie Solanis took the elevator got off at the 4th floor

She pointed the gun at Andy saying you cannot control me anymore

 

And I believe there's got to be some retribution

I believe an eye for an eye is elemental

And I believe that something's wrong if she's alive right now

 

Valerie Solanis took three steps pointing at the floor

Valerie Solanis waved her gun pointing at the floor

From inside her idiot madness spoke and bang

Andy fell onto the floor

 

And I believe life's serious enough for retribution

I believe being sick is no excuse and

I believe I would've pulled the switch on her myself

 

When they got him to the hospital his pulse was gone

they thought that he was dead

His guts were pouring from his wounds onto the floor

they thought that he was dead

Not until years later would the hospital do to him what she could not

Andy said, "Where were you, you didn't come to see me"

Andy said, "I think I died, why didn't you come to see me"

Andy said, "it hurt so much, they took blood from my hand"

 

I believe there's got to be some retribution

I believe there's got to be some retribution

I believe we are all the poorer for it now

 

Visit me, why didn't you visit me

Visit me, why didn't you visit me

 

 

 

 

 

NOBODY BUT YOU

 

I really care a lot although I look like I do not

Since I was shot there's nobody but you

I know I look blase, party Andy's what the papers say

At dinner I'm the one who pays - for a nobody like you

Nobody but you, a nobody like you

Since I got shot there's nobody but you

 

Won't you decorate my house

I'll sit there quiet as a mouse

You know me I like to look a lot - at nobody like you

I'll hold your hand and slap my face

I'll tickle you to your disgrace

Won't you put me in my proper place - a nobody like you

 

Sundays I pray a lot, I'd like to wind you up

and paint your clock

I want to be what I am not - for a nobody like you

 

The bullet split my spleen and lung, the doctors said I was gone

Inside I've got some shattered bone for nobody but you

 

I'm still not sure I didn't die

And if I'm dreaming I still have bad pains inside

I know I'll never be a bride - to nobody like you

 

I wish I had a stronger chin, my skin was good, my nose was thin

This is no movie I'd ask to be in - with a nobody like you

Nobody like you, a nobody like you, all my life -

It's been nobodies like you

 

"I sat in an ice creamshop late on night watching Andy take the

hand of a less than ordinary person sitting opposite him and slap

his (Andy's) own face with it. It somehow reminded me of Delmore

raging in a bar, asking me to call the White House to tell them we

were aware of the plot."

 

(Taken from Lou Reed's "Between Thought and Expression")

 

 

 

 

[A DREAM]

 

It was a very cold clear fall night. I had a terrible dream.

Billy Name and Brigid were playing under my staircase on the second

floor about two o'clock in the morning. I woke up because Amos and

Archie had started barking. That made me very angry because I wasn't

feeling well and I told them. I was very cross the real me, that they

just better remember what happened to Sam the Bad Cat that was left

at home and got sick and went to pussy heaven.

It was a very cold clear fall night. Some snowflakes were falling,

gee it was so beautiful, and so I went to get my camera to take some

pictures. And then I was taking the pictures but the exposure thing

wasn't right and I was going to call Fred or Gerry to find out how

to get it set but oh it was too late and then I remembered they were

still probably at dinner and anyway I felt really bad and didn't want

to talk to anybody but the snowflakes were so beautiful and real looking

and I really wanted to hold them. And that's when I heard the voices

from down the hall near the stairs. So I got a flashlight and I was

scared and I went out into the hallway. There's been all kinds of

trouble lately in the neighborhood and someone's got to bring home

the bacon and anyway there were Brigid and Billy playing. And under

the staircase was a little meadow sort of like the park at 23rd street

where all the young kids go and play frisbee, gee that must be fun,

maybe we should do an article on that in the magazine, but they'll

just tell me I'm stupid and it won't sell, but I'll hold my ground

this time, I mean it's my magazine isn't it?

So I was thinking that as the snowflakes fell and I heard these

voices having so much fun. Gee it would be so great to have some fun.

So I called Billy, but either he didn't hear me or he didn't want to

answer which was so strange because even if I don't like reunions I've

always loved Billy. I'm so glad he's working. I mean it's different

than Ondine. He keeps touring with those movies and he doesn't even

pay us and the film, I mean the film's just going to disintegrate and

then what. I mean he's so normal off of drugs. I just don't get it.

And the I saw John Cale. And he's been looking really great.

He's been coming by the office to exercise with me. Ronnie said I have

a muscle but he's been really mean since he went to AA. I mean what

does it mean when you give up drinking and then you're still so mean.

He says I'm being lazy but I'm not, I just can't find any ideas. I mean

I'm just not, let's face it, going to get any ideas up at the office.

And seeing John made me think of the Velvets and I had been thinking

about them when I was on St. Marks Place going to that new gallery those

sweet new kids had opened, but they thought I was old, and then I saw the

old Dom, the old club where we did our first shows. It was so great. And

I didn't understand about that Velvet's first album. I mean, I did the

cover and I was the producer and I always see it repackaged and I've

never gotten a penny from it. How could that be. I should call Henry,

but it was good seeing John, I did a cover for him, but I did it in

black and white and he changed it to color. It would have been worth

more if he_d left it my way, but you can never tell anybody anything,

I've learned that.

I tried calling again to Billy and John but they wouldn't recognize

me it was like I wasn't there. Why won't they let me in? And then I saw

Lou. I'm so mad at him. Lou Reed got married and didn't invite me. I mean

is it because he thought I'd bring to many people . I don't get it. He

could have at least called. I mean he's doing so great. Why doesn't he

call me? I saw him at the MTV show and he was one row away and didn't

even say hello. I don't get it. You know I hate Lou I really do. He won't

even hire us for his videos. And I was so proud of him.

I was so scared today. There was blood leaking through my shirt

from those old scars from being shot. And the corset I wear to keep my

insides in was hurting. And I did three sets of fifteen pushups and four

sets of ten situps. But then my insides hurt and I saw drops of blood on

my shirt and I remember the doctors saying I was dead. And then later

they had to take blood out of my hand _cause they ran out of veins but

then all this thinking was making me an old grouch and you can't do

anything anyway so if they wouldn't let me play with them in my own dream

I was just going to have to make up another and another and another.

Gee wouldn't it just be so funny if I died in this dream before I could

make another one up.

And nobody called.

 

"This is not an excerpt from Warhol's diaries. I wrote this thing to

capture the love of the Andy I knew both inside and out."

 

(Taken from Lou Reed's "Between Thought and Expression")

 

 

 

 

 

FOREVER CHANGED

 

Train entering the city - I lost myself and never come back

Took a trip around the world and never came back

Black silhouettes, crisscrossed tracks never came back

 

Forever changed, forever changed

 

You might think I'm frivolous, uncaring and cold

You might think I'm frivolous - depends on your point of view

Society And who paints and records them - the high and the low

I left my all life behind me and never went back

Forever changed, forever changed

 

Got to get to the city - get a job

Got to get some work to see me through

My old life's disappearing from view

Hong Kong - and I was changed

Burma and India - and I was changed

Only art to see me through

Only heart to see me through

My old life disappearing from my view

Brigid and Pat - please see me through

The whole thing quickly receding

My life disappearing - disappearing from view

Forever changed, forever changed

I left my old life behind and was forever changed

Forever changed

 

 

 

 

 

HELLO IT'S ME

 

Andy it's me, haven't seen you in a while

I wished I talked to you more when you were alive

I thought you were self-assured when you acted shy

Hello it's me

I really miss you, I really miss your mind

I haven't heard ideas like that in such a long, long time

I loved to watch you draw and watch you paint

But when I saw you last I turned away

 

When Billy Name was sick and locked up in his room

You asked me for some speed, I though it was for you

I'm sorry that I doubted your good heart

Things always seem to end before they start

 

Hello it's me, that was a great gallery show

Your cow wallpaper and your floating silver pillows

I wish I paid more attention when they laughed at you

Hello it's me

 

"Pop goes pop artist," the headline said

"Is shooting a put-on, is Warhol really dead?"

You get less time for stealing a car

I remember thinking as I heard my own record in a bar

 

They really hated you, now all that's changed

But I have some resentments that can never be unmade

You hit me where it hurt I didn't laugh

Your Diaries are not a worthy epitaph

Oh well now Andy - guess we've got to go

I hope some way somehow you like this little show

I know it's late in coming but it's the only way I know

Hello it's me - goodnight Andy...

Goodbye, Andy

 

 

 

"My wife and I were in a car with Andy. It was snowing out and

the driver was speeding. I asked him to slow down. Andy turned

to me and in a fey, arch whiny voice said, "You wouldn't have

said that a few years ago." He was being evil so I never spoke

to him again."

 

(Taken from Lou Reed's "Between Thought and Expression")