Hear the Velvet Underground Play an Early Version of 'Sweet Jane' - Rolling Stone
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Hear the Velvet Underground Play an Early Version of ‘Sweet Jane’

Recorded live in San Francisco, the rare track appears on the deluxe edition of the forthcoming ‘The Velvet Underground’

Doug Yule, Lou Reed, Sterling Morrison and Maureen 'Moe' Tucker of 'Velvet Underground' pose for a portrait in 1970.

The Velvet Underground's Doug Yule, Lou Reed, Sterling Morrison and Maureen "Moe" Tucker pose for a portrait in 1970.

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Although the Velvet Underground didn’t issue a studio version of “Sweet Jane” until their 1970 album, Loaded, the group had begun playing the song live the previous year. A recording of one of these performances (made at San Francisco venue the Matrix in November 1969) rounds out the final CD of the forthcoming six-disc, deluxe edition of The Velvet Underground and can be streamed here.

In this Matrix recording, Lou Reed sings an alternate set of lyrics, beginning with a line that appeared late in the verses of the studio version: “Anyone who ever had a heart wouldn’t turn around and break it.” The band also takes the tune slower than they would on the album and includes the “heavenly wine and roses” bridge that was later omitted. A different source mix of the performance previously appeared on the 1974 double album 1969: The Velvet Underground Live.

When the song finally came out, Rolling Stone‘s Lenny Kaye described it as “possibly the Velvet’s finest song since the cataclysmic ‘Sister Ray.'”

The deluxe edition of The Velvet Underground also contains three different mixes of the record – a studio stereo mix, Lou Reed’s “closet mix” and a mono mix – as well as a disc of studio outtakes from 1969 and two discs of highlights from the group’s two-night residency at the Matrix. It comes out November 24th.

In This Article: Lou Reed, The Velvet Underground


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