The Velvet Underground & The Dallas Peace Moratorium of 1969
Written by Christopher Ramos on July 17, 2019
History buffs and fans of The Velvet Underground rejoice. If you fall under both categories, then you’re in for a real treat.
Recently, unseen footage has been brought forth by the G. Williams Jones Film and Video Archive at SMU. The treasured relic shows an anti-war concert/protest that took place on October 15th, 1969 at White Rock Lake in Dallas.
Performing on the clear day next to the water; NASS and The Velvet Underground.
Finding live footage of any VU performance is a daunting task, given how under the radar they were. In the first video of two (the second video is strictly B-Roll footage; no audio), The Velvets belt out their classic cut, “I’m Waiting For The Man”, along with their heartwarming gem, “Beginning To See The Light”. The performances of both songs can only be seen/heard for a brief moment, but it’s better than nothing. Since this takes place after John Cale’s departure, the lineup is Lou Reed, Sterling Morrison, Doug Yule and Moe Tucker.
An interview conducted by Stoney Burns features Sterling Morrison (both are deceased) sharing his thoughts on the ongoing event and protests occuring back in the Velvets’s home-turf at the time, New York. Burns was a counter-culture scribe for the underground newspaper, Dallas Notes. Interviews with Yule and the late Reed are shown in the second video but again, there isn’t any audio. One can only imagine what deadpan comment came out of Reed.
Sterling mentioned in his interview that protests in the county were beginning to pick up in aggression. Given the high costs of the vehemently opposed Vietnam War, it was to be expected. In many ways, 1969 was not only the final chapter of a turbulent decade, but it also unearthed animosity.
Thankfully, the Dallas Peace Moratorium eluded any negative altercation. Public speakers made their case. The music brought attendees together. A candlelight vigil wrapped it all up. We’re fortunate that this special student film is out in the open, for anybody to see.
Video 2: (No audio)