No. 17, pp. 43-47, August 1968
New York

The Boston Sound

Wayne McGuire

[unbridled praise for The Velvet Underground,
occasional Mel Lyman references.

... But I digress. Put quite simply, the Velvet Underground is the most vital and significant group in the world today. They are at the fiery center of the twentieth century dilemma, as was Nietzsche. For Nietzsche foresaw that moment in the future when the spiritual citadels of the Judaeo-Christian West would crumble silently to dust. ... Nietzsche himself fell in battle without compromise as did Van Gogh, Rimbaud, Artaud and maybe Joyce and Beckett. (In our own time those two oracles, Burroughs and Warhol, are still standing. And, of course, Mel.) Many turn to the East but those with integrity know the dilemma facing them to be dimensionally greater than that solution (it being no accident that Hesse wrote Steppenwolf after Siddhartha).

... Spiritually the Velvet Underground's only equivalent is Mel Lyman. It is interesting to note the similar reactions both forces produce in people: uncomprehending indifference, vaguely comprehending hostility and comprehending submission. The first group doesn't have the barest inkling of what's happening since they're dead to the world; the second group feel their small ego base threatened (like the character after the last V.U. performance who, his face distraught and angry, spit out: "They stink!" in much the same way Mel receives letters from pipsqueaks telling him how he's screwed up); the third group understand that the V.U. and Mel are merely vessels through which greater forces are working and they listen attentively.

... There has been much nonsense spoken and written recently about the existence or nonexistence and nature of a Boston Sound. It should be quite clear by now that the Boston Sound is the Velvet Underground and Mel Lyman. It is irrelevant that the Velvet Underground first received significant exposure in their home city New York with Andy Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable. It was in Boston, through record sales and Boston Tea Party performances, that they began to find some acceptance and meaningful response (like getting their equipment stolen). It is irrelevant that Mel Lyman's present instrument is Avatar and film, not music. What is relevant is that these two voices best express the character and spirit of the forces at work in Boston, home of the first American Revolution. It is a character and spirit which in the near future will make Boston the center of the second American Revolution, a revolution of the spirit. It is a spirit which reveals its sturdy health and moral purity by rejecting, in the name of truth, false resolutions: the Christian cop-out, the Eastern cop-out, the African cop-out and the Humanist cop-out. The powerful energies which first emerged on the West Coast are finding their focus and direction here. Like Mel Lyman, the Velvet Underground have made their "Declaration of Creation" and translated it into sound:

I am going to burn down the world
I am going to tear down everything that cannot stand alone
I am going to turn ideals to shit
I am going to shove hope up your ass
I am going to reduce everything that stands to rubble
and then I am going to burn the rubble
and then I am going to scatter the ashes
and then maybe SOMEONE will be able to see SOMETHING as it really is

Mel Lyman