Brian Eno covers The Velvet Underground’s “I’m Set Free” — listen

Taken from the music legend's forthcoming album, The Ship

Next week, Brian Eno will release his latest solo album, The Ship, via Warp Records. The nearly 48-minute LP is broken down into two parts, the 21-minute title track and “Fickle Sun”, which is comprised of three separate movements. The last of those movements is a shimmering, piano-accompanied cover of The Velvet Underground’s “I’m Set Free”, taken from their 1969 self-titled record.

In a lengthy statement, Eno recalled the first time hearing the Lou Reed-led outfit. (“It was a big moment for me”) and what “I’m Set Free” means to him:

The first time I ever heard [The Velvet Underground] was on a John Peel radio show… it was when their first album came out and I thought “This I like! This I want to know about!”. I was having a huge crisis at the time. Am I going to be a painter or am I somehow going to get into music. And I couldn’t play anything so music was the less obvious choice. Then, when I heard The Velvet Underground I thought, “you can do both actually”. It was a big moment for me.

That particular song always resonated with me but it took about 25 years before I thought about the lyrics. “I’m set free, to find a new illusion”. Wow. That’s saying we don’t go from an illusion to reality (the western idea of “Finding The Truth”) but rather we go from one workable solution to another more workable solution.

Subsequently I think we aren’t able and actually don’t particularly care about the truth, whatever that might be. What we care about is having intellectual tools and inventions that work. [Yuval Noah Harari in his book Sapiens] discusses that what makes large-scale human societies capable of cohering and co-operating is the stories they share together. Democracy is a story, religion is a story, money is a story. This chimed well with “I’m set free to find a new illusion”. It seems to me what we don’t need now is people that come out waving their hands and claiming they know the Right Way.

The Ship officially arrives on April 29th.

The Ship Tracklist:
01. The Ship
02. Fickle Sun (i) Fickle Sun (ii) The Hour Is Thin (iii) I’m Set Free


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