The Velvet Underground

I Heard Her Call My Name

Song Review by

If "Sister Ray," the closing track on the Velvet Underground's White Light/White Heat album, can be described as the ultimate test of musical endurance, a grueling marathon of sonic assault, then "I Heard Her Call My Name" -- its immediate predecessor in the album's running order -- is the short sprint that lets you discover whether you're ready for the main event. The song itself is concerned with the sudden reappearance of a long lost girlfriend ("I know she's dead...but I heard her call my name"), but its impact lies in Reed's tortured, screaming guitar. Bandmate John Cale remains admiring of the solos with which Reed punctuated the song, although anybody entering in expectation of tasteful technique and soaring majesty will be swiftly disavowed of all such notions. "Then my mind split open," Reed announces, before unleashing a guitar sound that illustrates the point without mercy. The frantic hammering of his bandmates in the other speaker -- the stereo balance on this album is as assaultive as the music -- only amplifies his pain.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
White Light/White Heat 1968 Polydor / Verve 4:38
The Velvet Underground 1969 Polydor 0:00
What Goes On? 1993 Raven 4:40
Peel Slowly and See 1995 Polydor 4:36
Ocean of Sound 1996 Ambient Records 4:32
Gold 2005 Polydor 4:38
Chronicles 2005 Polydor 4:38
The Very Best of the Velvet Underground 2006 Universal / Um3 4:38
The Velvet Underground Story 2006 Polydor / Universal Distribution 4:38