The Velvet Underground

The Murder Mystery

Song Review by

The penultimate track on the Velvet Underground's self-titled third album, "Murder Mystery" is almost single-handedly responsible for that record's reputation for, indeed, mystery. A shade off nine minutes in length, it features two sets of lyrics being recited simultaneously (by Lou Reed and Sterling Morrison), punctuated by similarly overlaid choruses by Doug Yule and Maureen Tucker. There are, incidentally, several murders in the song, together with a number of deaths, assassinations, and gory dismemberments. Since the publication of the full lyric in Reed's 1991 Between Thought and Expression anthology, "Murder Mystery" has lost much of its original effect -- for two decades before that, however, it was said that you could measure a fan's devotion to the band by the amount of time they spent sitting with the headphones on, switching the balance control between one ear and the other, and trying to follow the two simultaneous stories. How disappointing, then, when Reed himself revealed that the song was basically an experiment, "having fun with words."

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The Velvet Underground 1969 Polydor 8:54
What Goes On? 1993 Raven 8:59
Peel Slowly and See 1995 Polydor 8:55
Chronicles 2005 Polydor 8:56