It's time for my final rankings, at least as part of this Velvet Underground Month feature. We've heard all four studio albums, how do the songs shake out, based on my personal preference? Remember, this is subjective and my opinion. It doesn't reflect empirical best, just what I like best. Let's do this one last time.
This was not an easy process, especially now that every song is in play. However, here are a few key takeaways. First, basically all of the songs are good, or worth listening to at the very least. Second, I abandoned the tiers but you could think of it this way: the bottom five, a level of 17 pretty decent songs, a set of 10 really good songs, and then the top 5 greatest songs. Basically, the top 15 are all pretty damn good. I do wonder if I overrated the more obvious choices since I'm more familiar with them, and ultimately there were some very tough decisions when it came to individual placements of songs that are so different. But in a general sense, I think this is a fair representation of my thoughts after listening to the band excessively over the past month.
After Loaded, I rank the songs of the Velvet Underground as follows:
37. European Son (LW 27)
36. I Heard Her Call My Name (LW 26)
35. Who Loves the Sun (NEW) I know it's a well-done example of the style. It's just not a style I enjoy coming from the Velvet Underground all that much.
34. Train Round the Bend (NEW) Some of the live and cover versions have made me appreciate the song more, but the studio version is not a favorite of mine.
33. That's the Story of My Life (LW 24) I decided to bump this one down to keep my lowest tracks on each album in the bottom five.
32. Lady Godiva's Operation (LW 23) See #29
31. I'm Set Free (LW 21) See #30
30. The Murder Mystery (LW 22) This one moved up a notch because its ambition makes it an uneven, yes, but more interesting listen than I'm Set Free
29. There She Goes Again (LW 25) I realize I underrated this one, so I'm making up for that now.
28. Venus in Furs (LW 20)
27. The Gift (LW 19)
26. Jesus (LW 18)
25. Candy Says (LW 17)
24. Beginning to See the Light (LW 16)
23. New Age (NEW) Some of the oddest characters in any VU song and the strong outro refrain make this a compelling cut.
22. Lonesome Cowboy Bill (NEW) One of the more distinctive tracks musically and lyrically with its country & western theme.
21. The Black Angel's Death Song (LW 15)
20. Here She Comes Now (LW 13) See #16
19. I Found a Reason (NEW) Probably the best-suited of all VU's songs for a slow dance.
18. Rock and Roll (NEW) A rock and roll song about the greatness and life-saving nature of rock and roll songs.
17. Cool It Down (NEW) Perhaps the most funky VU track. Dig the falsetto.
16. After Hours (LW 14) Its charm made me bump it up a little more.
15. Sunday Morning (LW 12) Here's where I would begin my "best of the Velvet Underground" compilation mix if I were to make one, though you could make a case for the top 20.
14. I'll Be Your Mirror (LW 11)
13. Run Run Run (LW 7) The upper tier song that has dropped most. I still really like it, but I've found it's a bit mood-dependent to rank highly or not.
12. Some Kinda Love (LW 10)
11. Oh! Sweet Nuthin' (NEW) On this classic blues rock anthem, the Velvet Underground unleashes their inner stadium rockers.
10. What Goes On (LW 9)
9. I'm Waiting For the Man (LW 8)
8. Sister Ray (LW 6)
7. Head Held High (NEW) A near perfect rock and roll burner.
6. Femme Fatale (LW 5)
5. White Light / White Heat (LW 3) Switched this with…
4. Pale Blue Eyes (LW 4) …this. Probably would continue to do so each week.
3. Heroin (LW 2)
2. Sweet Jane (NEW) Almost tied for first, but had to leave it at 2. It is the best example of one of two VU styles I love: the exuberant rock and roll song.
1. All Tomorrow's Parties (LW 1) Decided to go with my favorite moody experimental tracks as the top choice.
So there you have it. I can only imagine how things would change if I spent more time with the b-sides and unreleased rarities that have surfaced long after the band's conclusion. Or even just these songs – I'm sure I'd tweak and adjust. But the point is, just about all of these songs are really great. So much so that distinct rankings is almost pointless. As a discussion point, it interests me though. I'd like to know what you all think: what are your top fives, what would you put on a best of mix, what tracks could you do without, what do you agree with, disagree with, etc?