"Sweet Jane" is a song by American rock band the Velvet Underground; it appears on their fourth studio album Loaded. The song was written by Lou Reed, the band's leader, who continued to incorporate the piece into live performances as a solo artist.
The song also appears on the albums Live at Max's Kansas City; 1969: The Velvet Underground Live; Peel Slowly and See; Live MCMXCIII; Loaded: Fully Loaded Edition; American Poet; Rock 'n' Roll Animal; Live: Take No Prisoners; Live in Italy; The Concert for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; Rock and Roll: an Introduction to The Velvet Underground; NYC Man (The Ultimate Collection 1967–2003); Live on Letterman: Music from The Late Show; and Berlin: Live At St. Ann's Warehouse.
There are two distinct versions of "Sweet Jane" with minor variations, spread over its first four releases. The first release of the song in November 1970 was a version recorded earlier that year and included on Loaded. In May 1972, a live version recorded in August 1970 appeared on the Velvet Underground's Live at Max's Kansas City; this had an additional bridge that was missing from the Loaded release.
In February 1974, a live version recorded in December 1973 (similar to the Loaded version but with extended "intro" and hard rock sound), appeared on Reed's Rock 'n' Roll Animal. The elaborate twin guitar "intro" on the Rock 'n' Roll Animal version was written by Steve Hunter and played by Hunter and Dick Wagner, two Detroit guitarists who would go on to play with Alice Cooper.
In September 1974, a down-tempo live version recorded in late 1969 was included on 1969: The Velvet Underground Live, with a different song structure and lyrics. When a restored version of the original release on Loaded was eventually unveiled on Peel Slowly and See in 1995 (and in 1997 on Loaded: Fully Loaded Edition), it turned out that some of the 1969 lyrics (notably the entire bridge as heard on Live at Max's Kansas City) had originally been included in the Loaded version as well, but were scrapped in the final mix.
In a 2005 interview, former Velvet Underground member Doug Yule stated that the main signature "riff" of the song (as it appears on Loaded) was finalized in the studio just before the tracks were recorded, and it was achieved by Lou Reed's playing "cranked-up very loud" through a large Sunn amplifier. In addition to recording the bass track, the drums on the recording were performed by Doug Yule because Velvet drummer Maureen Tucker was pregnant at the time and not present during the Loaded sessions.
Lou Reed performed "Sweet Jane" in two keys. The 1969 and 1970 versions were in D as was 1972's American Poet version. On 1973's Rock 'n' Roll Animal and 1978's Take No Prisoners, the song is in E, and on 1984's Live in Italy, the song is back in D.
- 1972: Mott the Hoople on the David Bowie-produced album All the Young Dudes. It was released as a single in Canada, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United States.
- 1973: Brownsville Station on their album Yeah!
- 1983: The Jim Carroll Band on the album I Write Your Name.''
- 1985: Lone Justice recorded a live version of this song with U2's Bono on backing vocals. It was not released until 1999.
- 1987: Annabel Lamb on her album Brides.
- 1988: Cowboy Junkies on The Trinity Session. This version's arrangement is based on the slower version of the song released on 1969. Lou Reed was often quoted as saying that the Cowboy Junkies' version was his favourite. It features on the soundtrack of Oliver Stone's 1994 movie, Natural Born Killers.
- 2016: Willie Nile on his album World War Willie.
- 2016: Liz Phair's cover of the song was featured in an episode of The Good Wife called "Mind's Eye". It was released on her YouTube channel.
In March 2005, Q placed "Sweet Jane" at No. 18 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks.
- Doyle Greene (17 February 2016). Rock, Counterculture and the Avant-Garde, 1966-1970: How the Beatles, Frank Zappa and the Velvet Underground Defined an Era. McFarland. p. 15. ISBN 978-1-4766-2403-7.
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- "The Velvet Underground - Doug Yule Part 7". YouTube. 2014-01-27. Retrieved 2016-01-19.
- "The Velvet Underground - The Lowdown on Loaded". Olivier.landemaine.free.fr. Retrieved 2016-01-19.
- Higgins, Jim (25 December 2013). "Listening to Lou Reed: 12 versions of 'Sweet Jane'". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
- "The 100 Best Guitar Solos of All Time". Guitar.about.com. Retrieved 2014-08-09.