JOHN CALE HAS ALWAYS BEEN AMBIVALENT when it comes to discussing his 1982 album, Music For A New Society, referring to it as “tortuous” and “bleak” as well as openly decrying the pain involved in the music. Despite these strong emotions – or perhaps because of them – Cale has returned to the album and re-worked a version of If You Were Still Around to commemorate the anniversary of the passing of his friend, Lou Reed, who died on October 27, 2013.
““A Moth and a Candle met. They decided to become friends.”
The video opens with images of Cale spinning in an almost foetal position, the crackle of vinyl adding a palpable air of nostalgia to the proceedings.
Cale then stands centrally as he surveys images of Lou Reed in his Velvet Underground days being projected on buildings and spheres around him, as further pictures of Nico, Andy Warhol and other members of the Velvets family also appear. On occasion, the 72 year-old multi-instrumentalist seems to scream, offering a deeply touching rumination on mortality.
Commenting on the video, Cale offered a oblique message, writing:
“A Moth and a Candle met. They decided to become friends. Everyone enjoyed watching their discourse – especially the risk takers. Then one day a big rain came. The Moth couldn’t fly and the Candle puttered out. Everyone laughed in bitter awe and blamed the rain. Most however knew the deeper truth – the Candle remains lit and the Moth will stay close.”
Whether there’s more to come from Cale in the way of Reed tribute remains to be seen. Meanwhile, we are transfixed...