Recording: Live Bootleg, The Matrix, San Francisco, November 1969
The studio recording of "New Age," released in 1970 on Loaded, the band’s last album with any of its original members, is yet another example of unrealized potential. The recording lacks a central rhythm or any sort of spirited energy, two elements that the Velvet Underground typically carried in spades. While the album has numerous highly redeemable tracks, this is not one of them. To hear "New Age" live, however, is to listen to the song as its writer intended it, as a vaulting and overwhelmingly touching song. It is composed of a handful of distinct segments that segue one into the next, building tension until the ultimate release of the transition from "Something’s got a hold on me and I don’t know what" to "Oh it’s the dawning of a new age." The sections rise and fall, gaining momentum and adding height with each rotation. Its climax is the ultimate in rock catharsis, an emotional release that mirrors the personal rebirth in the song’s lyrics.