Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Nico Insurgency

Why do perceptions of all kinds of art and artists change over time? Sometimes it's hard to notice a trend or separate out a particular artist in the roiling present because of the din and distractions of the competition. But bestsellers now may be all but forgotten in twenty years, while those obscured in their time sometimes emerge into the light of a new now.

Christa Päffgen / Nico (10/16/1938-7/18/1988) is back, though she's been dead almost twenty years. A nice trick, that. She was a person who didn't let physical beauty deny her a life of her own, but did benefit from it early on. From a springboard of modeling and use as an album cover treat in the early 1960s, she learned to act, then acted in movies, began her own recording career, served as chanteuse on The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967), went solo with a number of admiring collaborators, acted some more, made more records and did more tours, eventually kicked a long heroin addiction that eroded her good looks, and then died after falling of a bike at age 49. But her work is back.

An expanded CD edition of Nico's The Frozen Borderline (1968-1970) has just been released. More will be revealed. Hopefully Susanne Ofteringer's 1995 documentary Nico Icon will also be re-issued on DVD. As of now, used copies are going for more than $60 USD.

Back cover: looks like a still from the British series Absolutely Fabulous. Here's a link to Nico singing "Femme Fatale" with Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground:

Today's Rune: Wholeness.

Birthdays: Sylvia Beach, Albert Einstein, Diane Arbus, Michael Caine, Quincy Jones.

Viva Nico!


JR's Thumbprints said...

Those damn bikes will get you every time (not the heroin). Interesting post. I can't believe people are willing to pay $60 for a used documentary (I assume on videotape).

Charles Gramlich said...

Hum, can't say as I've heard of her. By bike do you mean motorcycle? or bicycle?

Johnny Yen said...

"It was your basic 'the guitar players girlfriend gets to sing' situation"-- John Cale on Nico.

I remember when she died (it was a bicycle, Charles). I had the same thought-- she survives all the drugs and craziness of the sixties, and dies when she falls off a bicycle.

Danny Tagalog said...,,2034504,00.html

An alternative take on Nico....

Anonymous said...

i didn't know there's a movie about Nico. then again i don't know much about her, other than she preformed with The Velvet Underground.