Nico: Chelsea Girl

Side 1:

  1. The Fairest of the Seasons (4:06)
  2. These Days (3:30)
  3. Little Sister (4:22)
  4. Winter Song (3:17)
  5. It Was a Pleasure Then (8:02)

Side 2:

  1. Chelsea Girls (7:22)
  2. I'll Keep It with Mine (3:17)
  3. Somewhere There's a Feather (2:16)
  4. Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams (5:07)
  5. Eulogy to Lenny Bruce (3:45)
These Days

These Days
(Jackson Browne)

I've been out walking
I don't do too much talking
These days, these days.
These days I seem to think a lot
About the things that I forgot to do
And all the times I had the chance to.

I've stopped my rambling,
I don't do too much gambling
These days, these days.
These days I seem to think about
How all the changes came about my ways
And I wonder if I'll see another highway.

I had a lover,
I don't think I'll risk another
These days, these days.
And if I seem to be afraid
To live the life that I have made in song
It's just that I've been losing so long.
La la la la la, la la.

I've stopped my dreaming,
I won't do too much scheming
These days, these days.
These days I sit on corner stones
And count the time in quarter tones to ten.
Please don't confront me with my failures,
I had not forgotten them.

Nico: Chelsea Girl US LP Verve V6-5032
US LP Verve V6-5032
« Details »

Nico: vocals
Jackson Browne: acoustic guitar [Side 1: 1, 2. Side 2: 2, 3, 4]
Lou Reed: lead guitar
John Cale: electric viola, piano, bass

Recorded 1967-04-04 Mayfair Sound Studios, 701 Seventh Avenue, New York City, NY
Overdubs 1967-05-00 Mayfair Sound Studios, 701 Seventh Avenue, New York City, NY
Producer: Tom Wilson. Recording & remix engineer: Gary Kellgren. Arranged and conducted by Larry Fallon
Mastered for Compact Disc by Thomas Ruff at PolyGram Studios, 10 Distribution Blvd, Edison, NJ 08817

Liner notes by Pat Patterson
I don't really know anything about her. Although we'd talked for more than an hour she'd requested that I not ask any "everyday questions;" questions like where she was born, her nationality, what she was trying to do.

And so, factually, I know only that her name is Nico ... mother lives in Paris ... son is four and a half ... top Parisian model ... had a part in Fellini's La Dolce Vita ... came to the States two years ago ... is part of Andy Warhol's Velvet Underground.

And all this I learned from her manager, Paul Morissey, while Nico sat behind the bar of the dusky Dom down on St. Mark's Place and sang very soft, sad songs in a deep voice which, when stretched out, has a little mourn to it; like a child's last sob.

I watched as she sat, her head hanging to one side, her long flaxen hair fallen to her waist, catching highlights from the kaleidoscopic light works projecting ever-changing images on the walls. She held the mike with both hands, her long neck reaching out towards the ceiling as she went for a note. There was a strange existentialness to her; she was at once both cool and warm and her style of singing stretched words to the point where they were out of shape — their meaning shaded in graduations until they were no longer words conveying thoughts but sounds conveying feeling.

I'd seen Nico a year ago when Warhol first opened his Exploding Plastic Inevitable. I was rounding a corner of the stairs when this tall lithe figure moved past like a sudden thought-picture you saw so totally you saw no details; the parts creating none of the sum.

Her set ended finally and her manager told me not to be surprised if she turned her head when introduced.

"She's very shy, really," he said.

"No, I'd like to talk. It's not that I have to talk ... I just don't see why I should be silent right ... now."

Nico seemed relaxed and extremely feminine in that personal, yet distant, way which is the mark of so many European women.

After promising that I wouldn't ask any everyday questions, I did just that: How long had she been singing.

"Well, yes," she said, but instead of continuing she stopped and seemed to search back past all the timeless copouts, past the obvious to what she really did think.

"I don't even see that it makes a difference," she replied finally, "because everyday I feel that the day before doesn't count ... so much happens ... I don't sing for the audience. I try to remain as much alone as I can ... not to make contact at all. (Except for the people who come every night)."

"I like sad songs, tragic ones ... I like to improvise with the notes, with the feeling I have at the time about the song."

Even those people who were friends of hers only six months ago she feels isolated from, because in this Underground movement  (the italics are hers) things move so fast because yesterday doesn't exist.

"They think I'm not polite ... but whatever I have to say to these people seems so unnecessary ... I just can't be around ... be around anything that is forced ... I'd rather just remain how I feel ... what happened before happened ... now it's only sentiment that you can't scratch out."

People, places, the years no longer exist for Nico except as blocks of emotion that can't be recaptured but only re-felt.

"I can't respond in the old way ... it's you know fake ... with people that you like for good reasons but not the most important reasons."

One of Nico's favorite people she says, was Lenny Bruce. "I like him for that thing ... that nothing is wrong to do or to say or to take ... he really destroyed himself in the end."

Her voice is low but strong; sensuous but reserved. Sometimes she seems as if she is talking to herself.

Nico's speech is slow; she makes sudden leaps of thought jettisoning the bridging word. Like a movie camera her thoughts keep cutting, instead of panning, from one to another; if only feeling linking them up and leading her on. Her voice flies high as she talk putting her emphasis on the conjunctions instead of the adjectives or verbs.

The conversation changes to Andy and Chelsea Girls, three and a half hours long. "I like the last sequence with the Pope and Ondine and that quiet film beside it." Nico is also in his new film, all in color, which runs for twenty-four hours.

She says Andy likes other people to become Andy for him; that he doesn't want to be always in charge of everything.

"He would rather be me or someone else sometimes ... like the radio interview when I couldn't show up ... he went on and took my part — said the sings I would say."

"It's part of pop-art, I guess, that everybody can impersonate somebody else ... that you don't always be you.

If tomorrow I find somebody who is pretty much like me and I put her here to sing, she can be Nico while I go to do something else."

She is beautiful. And in a world where so much can easily be possessed on a whim or for a promise, she is unpossessable. She has a clear, pure ring, a trueness, like an arrow that has hit an inner mark and can't be wedged loose. Her voice and her manner, that stretch farther into the past than perhaps she realizes, may set the new style: and existential pop style that is as earthy as Mary Travers (Peter, Paul & Mary) yet more elegant, more isolated.

Her name is Nico. I don't know where she was born, how old she is or anything about her life as a model in Paris, an actress in Rome, a beat in Ibiza or a member of the Velvet Underground.

I could easily find out. But I'd rather not. All that was yesterday.

— reprinted from the magazine IN New York.

© 1996-2011
Serge Mironneau