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

Timeline: 2017

With Betsey Johnson at the Grammmys

Attending the Grammmy Awards

He attends the 59th Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on February 12 with his former wife, fashion designer Betsey Johnson, the latter wearing wear a multi-coloured dress inspired by long johns to rile up the press.

They always remained good friends and have kept in touch over the years.

Interview in Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone publishes an interview to commerate the 50th anniversary of the release of The Velvet Underground & Nico. On writing Sunday Morning:

"There was a harmonium in the corner of the room, and we got to it. And it was really Sunday morning by the time we finished. . It was one of those things where you didn't expect it to happen, but you're out for a Saturday night and . it shows how comfortable we were being players and musicians. The safety blanket was always the instrument. You'd grab it because you'd need something to hang onto and because you felt you were wasting time and that you had to goals to accomplish and it was a chance to do it, and we can do this with a friend. Wherever we were, if there was an instrument there, we'd zero in on it."

Keynote for Art Space The Kitchen in New York; "IO" drone on vinyl

Invited by board member James Murphy he delivers a speech for a benefit for Art Space The Kitchen at the Hammerstein Ballroom, New York on April 17.

John Cale: IO

Guests are presented with a tote bag printed with Fear's a Man’s Best Friend. Inside it was a single-sided 12" (100 copies) containing a drone and bits of spoken word. It is called IO. Limited edition of 100 copies, hand-scrawled, signed, and numbered by Cale.

He discussed language:

"Language was both a problem and an inspiration for me. I grew up with my mother speaking Welsh, and the rest of my family speaking Welsh. I was seven years old when I learned English at school, and could speak to my father and have a conversation."
John Cale with Lawrence Weiner

And improvisation:

"The BBC would come by and see what’s going on with the student body. I’d written a toccata in the style of Khachaturian, and they said, ‘Oh really? Let’s see it.’ And they went away and came back about three weeks later and said, ‘Let’s record.’ And I said, ‘O.K., give me the music back.’ And they said, ‘Whoops, we’ve forgotten it.’ So immediately I had to get on with it and play the piece, and improvise the end of the piece. And that was where the danger was."

The other keynote speaker was conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner.

Bob Stanley And Pete Wiggs Present English Weather

Big White Cloud

Big White Cloud is included the Bob Stanley And Pete Wiggs Present English Weather compilation. It is an album with the tracks from the Seventies:

"The autumnal sound of Britain at the turn of the 70s, looking out through wet window panes to a new decade with a mixture of melancholy and optimism for what might come next. With the Beatles gone and the pound sinking, a new and distinctive sound emerges, led by flutes and mellotrons."
Live At Rockpalast reissue

Live At Rockpalast reissue

The 1983 and 1984 German Rockpalast shows are reissued as a combo 2CD/2DVD set.

Note: DVD2 and CD2 are mistakenly titled "Loreley 21.06.1998 (Rockpalast)", which refers to a show by Santana.

Poster for the Liverpool show

The Velvet Underground & Nico in Liverpool

He re-imagines The Velvet Underground & Nico once again in Liverpool @ Clarence Docks on May 26 as part of the Sound City festival. He is joined on stage by special guests The Kills, Gruff Rhys, Clinic, Nadine Shah, Fat White Family & Wild Beasts. Critical reception was mixed. Lots of complaints - it was an outdoor show for an 11.000 audience - about the sound quality.

"I'm often reluctant to spend too much time on things past - then, a time marker shows up - The Velvet Underground & Nico turns fifty! As so many bands can attest to, it is the fulfillment of the ultimate dream to record your first album. We were an unfriendly brand, dabbling in a world of challenging lyrics and weird sonics that didn't fit into anyone's playlist at the time. Remaining ferociously true to our viewpoints, Lou and I never doubted for a moment we could create something to give a voice to things not regularly explored in rock music at the time. That bizarre combination of four distinctly disparate musicians and a reluctant beauty queen perfectly summed up what it meant to be The Velvet Underground."

The next day (May 27) he is interviewed by David Halsam about the performance and The Velvets legacy.

John Cale with his daughter Eden

Performing at his daughter's wedding

He performs (I Keep A) Close Watch on piano at the wedding of his daughter Eden with Jack Levinson on June 10 at the groom's family home in New Canaan, Connecticut.

"It was a special moment for me and my dad, and now it's a special song for me and my husband. I was grateful that he was able to perform."

He danced with his daugther to The Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra.

Grammy Salute to Music Legends in New York

He performs Sunday Morning and I'm Waiting For The Man at the Grammy Salute to Music Legends show at the Beacon Theatre, New York, USA on July 11. The Velvet Underground were among the recipients of The Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award. Maureen Tucker joined the band on percussion.

"Lou, Sterling, Andy, wherever you are. Look at us. The establishment caught up with us at last."

The Velvet Underground & Nico in New York

John Cale revisits The Velvet Underground & Nico at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) in New York (November 16-17), followed by a show to celebrate reaching the age of (November 18):

For the first two nights, Cale is accompanied by members of the Wordless Music Orchestra and special guests to perform the album that charted the course of underground music for decades to come. Fifty years after its release, The Velvet Underground & Nico remains a raw, bracing transmission from the downtown demimonde of 1960s New York City, combining Lou Reed’s streetwise lyrics, Nico’s husky contralto, and Cale’s Fluxus-inspired electric viola. In the final evening of this engagement, Cale celebrates 75 years, backed by the Wordless Music Orchestra and Chorus. They perform selections from his legendary, impossible-to-pin-down career, including his landmark work with the Velvet Underground, the baroque pop perfection of Paris 1919, pioneering forays into drone minimalism, and beyond.

On November he plays the new song Perfect People, a song that would finally be released in 2023 on the bonus 7" that came with the limited 2LP of the Mercy album.

John Cale with Margaret Moser

Margaret Moser dies

Former Texas Blonde Margaret Moser succumbs to cancer on August 25. She met Cale in Austin in 1979 when she was a groupie. She became a respected music critic and journalist. He writes a piece for her newspaper, the Austin Chronicle:

"The early days of my love affair with Austin - those days when my band and I roamed the hinterlands of Oklahoma DRIVING WEST in an Econoline van packed with sleepy, angry musicians and their gear - we still had NYC in our back pockets. This Welsh boy, now familiar with the 24-hour mania of NYC, was off to explore the other U.S., the one you weren't sure would accept you or your brand of art rock/punk.

My music wasn't blues. It wasn't anything particularly associated with the Southwest. Better learn their ways, but more importantly, understand what not to say or do when you're the intruder. Mind your manners - learn your place.

Driving exhausted and hung over from one Southern state to the next, we never lost that arrogant veneer that nothing could happen to us. We were resplendent in the cloak that New Yorkers everywhere wear. You didn't need to carry a gun to make that point. Once, after a show, we were invited by some locals to stop by their farm on our way out of town. The promise of a party with all its expectations!

Instead, I was gifted a genuine World War II Luger! Ahhh, this is the South!

At a large wooden hall called the Armadillo, the headline had been "God Comes to the Armadillo" - so different from anything the VU had encountered. Gleefully wincing at the marquee, up walks a petite blonde with all the swagger of someone 10 feet tall. She grabs hold and says she's "Margaret" and she's there to welcome my band to the venue. In that moment, I understood I'd found someone who knew the score and was there to make sure we didn't trip up too badly. We checked into a small hotel nearby and drank ourselves to sleep. The following morning, I awoke to a ruckus coming from the pool.

I walked outside, there was Margaret with her gin & tonic in hand at poolside loudly laying into someone in the water. Her friend sat in a chair nearby, but neither were interested in swimming. I tucked into a six-pack and was goaded to get in the water. Rather than do that, I sidled up behind Margaret and gently pushed her into the pool.

Being fully dressed, she was not happy and spluttered at me while her friend stood up and called me various names before helping Margaret out of the pool and into her room nearby. As the door closed, I heard her tell Margaret that I'd better not try that with her, because she had something in her handbag I could chew on. Margaret told me later it was a Charter Arms .38 - a favorite means of dissuasion with Texas ladies.

Throughout the ensuing years, I proudly witnessed Margaret's intense passion for cultivating a true family of her wayward artists as we all passed through her backyard year in and year out. If ever there's anything to learn about true loyalty and a die-hard love of life, she's the master. Her name is synonymous with so much of the Austin music landscape - stories upon stories of countless musicians seeking refuge and advice - but mostly it's her unfailing generosity and kindness.

From day one, she's worn her heart on her sleeve and displayed mad love for me and everyone who dared dream of being a part of the Austin creative community. Never shy, always ready to box with anyone purporting injustices, she made nurturing her true religion, and that's an indelible mark, never to be removed."
Lou Reed: A Life

Lou Reed: A Life

American author and music critic Antony DeCurtis publishes his biography Lou Reed: A Life on October 10. It is the best Lou bio so far. On trying to have Cale on his New York album in 1988:

Reed also invited Moe Tucker to play drums on two of New York's tracks. He also planned to have John Cale play on that album, but Maher (Fred Maher who drummed on all the other tracks - HW) inadvertently sabotaged that possibility when he mentioned to Cale that Tucker would come in as well. Reed had not informed Cale, who said to Maher, "What is this, some sort Velvet Underground reunion?" That was the end of that - at least for a while.

© 1999- Hans Werksman