John Cale
Fear Is A Man's Best Friend - John Cale

Timeline: 1989

Drella Poster

Performing Songs for Drella

On January 7 and 8 Cale and Reed perform most of the songs of the song cycle Songs for Drella a tribute to Andy Warhol, in the Church of St. Anne's in Brooklyn, New York. The song cycle was commissioned by the Brooklyn Academy of Music for the Next Wave Festival.

It is labeled as work-in-progress. The song order is slightly different than the final version that will be released on the album in 1990. Reed sings Faces And Names, and A Dream is not yet a part of the song cycle.

On the Sunday Night Show - February 19, 1989

He performs Style It Takes and Nobody But You with Lou Reed on the Sunday Night Show in a N.Y.C. TV Studio on February 19.

The first full version in its finalized running order is played on 29 and 30 November, and 2 and 3 December at the Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York. On the last date they are joined onstage by Maureen Tucker for the encore of Pale Blue Eyes.

 These People Are Nuts!

"Jack the Ripper" on These People Are Nuts!

The Jack the Ripper single, set for release in 1978, surfaces on the IRS Anniversary album These People Are Nuts! sampler. It was shelved because of the Yorkshire Ripper murders in Northern England. The track is also included on the Seducing Down The Door compilation.

Put The Blood In The Music

"Put The Blood In The Music"

Cale is featured in an episode of The South Bank Show, a long running UK tv series, aired on March 12. The members of noise band Sonic Youth seem ill at ease when they ask Cale some rather bland questions about The Velvet Underground.

As Hubley in The Houseguest

The Houseguest

Plays the part of Hubley in The Houseguest, a short movie directed by Franz Harland. It is a low-budget spoof, a Bergmannesque summer resort love triangle that ends with a surreal twist. He also composes the music.

Note: the film was edited by Ramin Niami, who would later direct Somewhere In The City (1998) and Paris (2003), two movies that have Cale music on the soundtrack.

John Cale in The Equalizer

The Equalizer

Cale is cast as an Aryan Leader (that is: a neo-nazi) in an episode of The Equalizer series named Race Traitors. It is about a black family being harassed by racists. Aired in the USA by CBS on June 29, 1989.

Basic setup of this series: a bunch of all American heroes kick the butts of the bad guys. And they always win.

Cale peering through the window

Wonderland USA

Cale plays a lonely writer in Wonderland USA, a short movie losely based on the classic story Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll. Directed by Zoe Beloff.

"Lured by a lonely writer, Alice finds herself falling into a wonderland of decadence and despair; a New York nether world of lost souls and cut-rate charlatans hawking broken dreams and cheap perversions. Set in the ruins of Coney Island and Times Square, the film brings to life the underside of Lewis Caroll's classic."

Dick soundtrack

Writes the soundtrack for the short movie Dick directed by Jo Menell. Features women discussing the male sexual organ and showing pictures of said organ. The movie was promoted in a rather corny way:

100 women interviewed, 1000 dicks exposed. A humorous look at manís greatest asset ... and liability.

Jack Smith

Jack Smith dies

American filmmaker, actor, and pioneer of underground cinema Jack Smith dies on September 18. He was 56. In the Nineties Tony Conrad released two spoken word and dialogue albums. He and Cale both feature on one track of each album:

Cale performed live at the retrospective exhibition Flaming Creature: Jack Smith: His Amazing Life And Times at the Institute for Contemporary Art/PS1 Museum in Long Island City, NY in 1997.

Lullabies for Lager Louts

Producing Big Vern's Lullabies for Lager Louts

Produces and plays keyboards and piano on various tracks of British musician Big Vern's album Lullabies for Lager Louts: keyboards on Greedy, AK47, Shamrock, Where've You Been?, Empty Street; piano and backing vocals on Zoo; Welsh Ivories, crossword, squash racket on Fountain. He wrote Greedy and co-wrote AK47.

Words for the Dying

Words For The Dying

Release of Words For The Dying. The centerpiece of this album is The Falklands Suite, is based on the poems of Dylan Thomas, which was premiered at Paradiso in Amsterdam in November 14 and 15, 1987.

During the recording sessions in Moscow with The Orchestra Of Symphonic And Popular Music of Gosteleradio in April the track Year of the Patriot is composed on the spot by Eno and Cale for bass player Rodion Azarkin. It was also recorded, but not included on the final album. A few snippets made it into video.

Carmen Miranda

The song The Soul of Carmen Miranda is a tribute to the Brasilian star of the fourties and fifties.

"Songs Without Words was originally written for a ballet, and Carmen Miranda was one of three collaborations recorded between Brian and me. The actual album was originally for piano and voice and then I decided to go in and orchestrate it. Brian got a video copy of the Amsterdam premier and later I sent him a Canadian documentary about the Falklands war that used the suite, Lie Still, Sleep Becalmed was used as a tribute to the dead on both sides of the war.

Brian was initially impressed by the idea of me sitting at a piano and singing this classical piece. Ironically, the piano parts were dropped. There was a pedal steel part too that was also dropped, which was a result of hearing it played well for the first time by Soviet musicians, when we finally went to Moscow to record it. They dug out every inch of expression from the music. It was amazing, really... total discipline.

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night was the one that worked best. It's kind of a camp version set to a tango. I knew it couldn't be rock 'n' roll; I was after doing something that would help me come to terms with Schubert and Hugo Wolff."

The album was reissued on clear vinyl in 2023.

Rodion Azarkin and John Cale

Words For The Dying Video

The Words For The Dying documentary follows composing and recording of The Falklands Suite in Moscow. With footage of Year of the Patriot (not on the album). Directed by Rob Nilsson.

Mathilde Santing

Mathilde Santing covers "(I Keep A) Close Watch"

Dutch jazz singer Mathilde Santing covers (I Keep A) Close Watch on her live album Breast And Brow.

The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy covers "The Biggest, Loudest, Hairiest Group Of All"

The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy covers The Biggest, Loudest, Hairiest Group Of All, live at the Lounge Ax, Chicago, November 17, 1989.

Genius + Love = Yo La Tengo

Yo La Tengo covers "Hanky Panky Nohow"

American indie rock band Yo La Tengo covers Hanky Panky Nohow on their Genius + Love = Yo La Tengo album. It can also be found on the Spanish sampler The Ruta 66 Album, released in 1991.

On Dutch TV show Onrust - 1988

Performing on Dutch TV

Appears on the VPRO program Fa. Onrust, a Dutch TV on November 19. He discusses his lyrics and not hiding behind a mask anymore. He plays (I Keep A) Close Watch and Fear Is A Man's Best Friend on piano. The segment also contained a bit of footage from the Words For The Dying documentary.

Performing on Late Night With David Letterman

Appears with Lou Reed on the Late Night With David Letterman TV show on November 17. They performed Nobody But You from Songs For Drella.

John Cale performing Forever Changed

Songs for Drella video shoot

On December 4 or 5 Cale and Reed perform Songs for Drella in an empty Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York for a live video directed by Ed Lachman.

© 1999- Hans Werksman