The Velvet Underground

Sweet Jane

Composed by Lou Reed

Song Review by

How many times can one come across a Velvet Underground song and describe it as one of the all-time classic rock & roll songs? As many times as Lou Reed wrote one that deserves such an appellation, of course, and even his detractors will admit that "Sweet Jane" deserves every grandiose epithet that has ever been heaped upon its head. Like "Waiting for the Man" and "White Light/White Heat," its partners in the upper echelons of glory, "Sweet Jane" is little more than a memorable riff, buoyed by a lyric that is almost outspoken in its openness -- all the ingredients of a classic rock monster. And Reed knew that from the outset -- the group's fourth (and final) album, from whence "Sweet Jane" comes, was titled Loaded because it was. Loaded with hits, that is. Heard on the Live 1969 album, recorded the night the song debuted in the Velvet Underground's live set, "Sweet Jane" is already a jewel. Yet the version that emerged on the original Loaded album release was only part of the picture. Post-production, pre-release, and completely unbeknownst to Reed, an entire section was sliced out of the song, a dramatic surgery that may have tightened the song for radio play, but utterly eviscerated the song. CD repackages have restored the absent section but the damage was already done -- of the multitude of covers that "Sweet Jane" has provoked over the years, few (Lou Reed included!) render the song in its full glory; fewer still (Reed presumably not included) were even aware that such a beast even existed. And that, perhaps, is the greatest testament of all. Even hacked in half, "Sweet Jane" was still more of a song than most folks could even dream of writing.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The Velvet Underground 1969 Polydor 4:17
Loaded 1970 Rhino 3:17
Live at Max's Kansas City 1972 Rhino 6:17
No Image 1974 Mercury
1969: Velvet Underground Live with Lou Reed, Vol.1 1988 ORG / Original Recordings Group 3:58
The Best of the Velvet Underground: Words and Music of Lou Reed 1989 Polydor / GRP / Island/Def Jam / Universal / Verve 3:14
The Velvet Underground [Japan Import] 1990 3:17
What Goes On? 1993 Raven 4:02
Live MCMXCIII 1993 Rhino / Warner Bros. 5:21
Velvet Redux: Live MCMXCIII 1993 WEA Int'l 5:15
Take a Trip 1993 KTS 4:03
Baby Boomer Classics: Psychedelic Sixties 1995
Various Artists
JCI Associated Labels 3:13
Peel Slowly and See 1995 A&M / Island/Def Jam / Polydor/Chronicles / Universal 4:08
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: The Eleventh Annual Induction Dinner 1996
Various Artists
Psychedelic 60's 1997
Various Artists
Rhino / Essex 3:13
Best of the Velvet Underground [Globa] 2000 Globa
20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: Best Of The Velvet Underground 2000 Polydor 4:01
Classic Velvet Underground: The Universal Masters Collection 2000 Polygram / Polydor 4:01
An Introduction to the Velvet Underground 2001 Polygram 3:59
Final V.U., 1971-1973 2001 Captain Trip Records
Gold 2005 Polydor 4:00
Best 1200 2005 Universal Distribution
Greetings from the East Coast 2005
Various Artists
American Beat Records 4:07
The Very Best of the Velvet Underground 2006 Fontana / Hip-O / Universal 4:06
From the Velvets to the Voidoids 2007
Various Artists
WEA International 4:07
Prime 17: Ultimate Guitar Rock 2007
Various Artists
Direct Source 4:05
100 Hits: Rock 2007
Various Artists
100 Hits
No Image 2007 Polydor 4:00
Playlist Plus 2008 Polydor 4:07
Star Club 2008 Universal International 4:00
Icon 2011 Polydor 4:01
Massive Hits: Punk and New Wave 2014
Various Artists
Rhino 4:04
The Best Ever Time to Relax 2015
Various Artists
The Complete Matrix Tapes 2015 Polydor / Universal 4:19
Real Good Time Together: Radio Broadcast 2016 Laser Media
100 Hits: Dad
Various Artists
Demon Music Group / DMG 100 4:07
Rock Concert: Rock Stars Live
Various Artists
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