John Cale’s lockdown music fuelled by rage

John Cale’s lockdown music was driven by rage credit:Bang Showbiz
John Cale’s lockdown music was driven by rage credit:Bang Showbiz

John Cale’s lockdown music was driven by rage.

The Velvet Underground founding member, 82, released his 13th studio record in 2023 after churning out a “huge tranche of songs” amid self-isolation during Covid, during which he says he was enraged by political incompetence.

Welsh native John told The Observer: “The lockdown sort of dictated what was going on, so my anger showed up fairly regularly.”

When asked what he was angry about, John responded: “Political stuff, mainly. I wasn't really worried physically by what was going on with the lockdown, but there were some things that really annoyed me.”

He said that as a result he started writing songs with a “great deal more aggression than I have in the recent past”.

But he stressed it was part of a “romantic aggression”.

John gave the interview to promote his latest record, ‘POPtical Illusion’, which includes the track ‘Company Commander’, in which he says he is having a dig at “right-wingers burning their libraries down”.

His track ‘I’m Angry’ on the record has lyrics that suggest its themes are mortality and regret.

But John elusively said when asked to explain its meaning: “My songs have an interior logic, but I also think people want to discover things for themselves when they listen to them, just as they would when they read a poem.”

On his new track ‘How We See the Light’ John’s lyrics include mentions of “wasted time” and learning a lesson in the “quiet ways of love”.

When asked if the words represented a conversation he was having with himself, John admitted: “Partly, yes. My younger self.

“It’s simply acceptance. With all the turmoil that was going when I wrote this record, I was really glad to have even some moments of reflection – and gratitude.”

John met Velvet Underground singer Lou Reed – who died aged 71 in 2013 after battles with hepatitis, diabetes and liver cancer – in 1964 in New York.

When asked is he had been tempted to write a song about his late bandmate, John – who had a famously stormy relationship with the singer – said: “I think I have already, however vague they may seem.”