[77] Nico - Chelsea Girl (1967)


12. Jan. 2009, 21:42

Nico - Chelsea Girl

I put on this album for the first time in the kitchen. When it ended, my brother said: "Hmmm, not bad". I replied: "How can you say it's not bad? She sings so extremely false!" His reply: "You're concentrating on the wrong stuff. You should concentrate on the music, not her voice. The music sounds not so bad."

So I did. I concentrated on the music and tried to ignore her voice. Because my brother was right. The music itself is really beautiful: it is from the hands of (a.o.) Jackson Browne, Lou Reed and John Cale (also from The Velvet Underground), so that can never be bad of course.

Strangely enough, it took me only three listening times before I started liking the music as a whole, even with Nico's voice. And now, after some more turns, I can actually say this is a nice album with some extremely beautiful songs on it. Especially The Fairest of the Seasons, These Days, Chelsea Girls and Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams are real emotional highlights.

I only have two remarks left:
1. I asked myself the question that if you dislike the album as much as I did afther the first listening, whether it's worth taking the trouble to keep listening to it. Is that how music is meant to be? Listening to it until you like it? You can probably like anything if you listen long enough to it. But, as it only took three turns before I started to hear something more, this question isn't really in order. It proves that there is beauty hidden in this music.

2. I also asked myself the question if the music would have been better had it been brought by someone who actually knows how to sing a note. No, I didn't ask myself this question, I believed it at first. Until I realised that the strength of this music is its extreme vulnerability (strengthened by the lack of drums, and the extensive use of violins and flutes). If a talented singer sings these songs, there is some distance between the singer and the listener, just because of the fact that she can sing and I can't. However, Nico can't sing at all and on top of that, she has one of the most horrible accents ever. She is one of us! Sung by anyone else, this music would lose some of its strength. And that's the greatest merit of this album.

Only one thing is a pity: even after all those listenings, I still don't really like the sound of Nico's voice. Not the false singing, not the accent, but really just the kind of voice she has. And I believe that's the key to go from "Hmmm... quite beautiful" to "Wow! Life changing!" But I can see why some people are absolutely fond of this album.

(Mooimooi: The Fairest of the Seasons, These Days, Chelsea Girls, Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams)

PS: Nico doesn't have a great voice, but she sure has some guts!

Wrap your troubles in dreams
Send them all away
Put them in a bottle
And across the seas they'll stay

(Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams)


  • Tom_Meade

    I actually really like Nico's voice. It's not a classically "good" voice, and it only works in certain contexts, but on its own terms it's rather beautiful. Her emotional expressiveness is extraordinary - kind of like Bjork or Tom Waits, I suppose. Her other album on the list, the Marble Index, is freaking amazing (maybe even better than this one) but absolutely terrifying. After that she slowly descended into rubbish.

    15. Jan. 2009, 8:42
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