Monday, August 1, 2011

Jam of the day: "I'm Not A Young Man Anymore"

Artist: The Velvet Underground
Album: Live At The Gymnasium 1967 (live bootleg)
Song: "I'm Not A Young Man Anymore"

There is no other band for which I will so fervently track down bootlegs than The Velvet Underground. I was super late to the party on The VU (my friend introduced them to me in college—sophomore year, I think) but I was really drawn to them and scoured the web for anything I could find. I got ripped CD copies of their studio LPs from said friend, including a version of the Live 1969 album that has a 30-second long skipping section during "New Age" that is, at this point, so much a part of the song for me that when I played that version on vinyl when that friend visited me last month we both thought it sounded really odd for some reason. Yeah, we listened to it that much. I remember finding some freakin' .ra files or something crazy of some live show in Cleveland, I think, from 1969 that included a sweet jam of "Can't Stand It". See, I still remember this, even though I've long since lost track of the file itself, let alone the source. I bought the CD box set version of The Bootleg Series, Volume 1: The Quine Tapes when it came out, and that may very well be the last CD I bought. I really can't remember, but that was also at a time in my life when I hardly ever spent money on music. Obviously, things have changed greatly since then.

So, a couple years ago, a bootleg surfaced of recordings of The VU from early 1967 at The Gymnasium, a NYC venue. I somehow missed out on that hot news item until like 4 months ago, when I spotted the album on some blog post about the best internet bootlegs of all time, when I downloaded it and listened. It's the grungiest, garage-iest, and rocking-est that The VU can possibly be, really, and featues early versions of three album cuts ("I'm Waiting For The Man" and "Run, Run, Run" and "Sister Ray") and a previously-released B-side ("Guess I'm Falling In Love", an instrumental version of which appears on Another View, and a regular version of which appears on the Peel Slowly and See box set) and … the topic of discussion: "I'm Not A Young Man Anymore", a track that appears nowhere else in The VU's vast canon! Hot diggity doggety dag! I've jammed that album a number of times in the last few months after downloading it (which you can download here or here) and they are all awesome versions of these songs. But that is the only reason I would know the song "I'm Not A Young Man Anymore".

Imagine my surprise, then, when I'm sitting at Jitters, in Shadyside, just three or four days ago, when this very song comes on over the house speakers, on the barista's playlist! I started humming/singing along, and I really wasn't quite sure why. I knew instantly it was a VU song, but I couldn't even remember that it was from this bootleg. Imagine my even further surprise, then, when I'm at a concert earlier this evening (to see The Black Lips at Mr. Small's) and the opening band, Night Beats, announces, "This one's a cover song …" and launches right into a heady jam of this very song! I never even knew about this song until a few short months ago, then totally forgot about it, then was reminded of it twice within a week. That is coincidental, my friends (not ironic, mind you).

So in any event, behold, below, in static video but impressively plastic audio formats, The Velvet Underground's song, "I'm Not A Young Man Anymore".

Bonus! Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips, as Dean & Britta, covered this song for their album 13 Most Beautiful … Songs For Andy Warhol's Screen Tests, which soundtrack a series of short films made by Andy Warhol consisting of closeup footage of some of the characters that hung around his "factory" back in the day, of which Lou Reed was a prominent member. For Lou's closeup footage, D & B cover this very tune. Check out that version below.

Oh, FWIW, the Night Beats version was all well and good, great for the live setting in which we were in, but for the most part a more "faithful" cover than D & B's version, which made me like it way more at the time, but slightly less now, in just-a-few-hours-even retrospect. So there's that.

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