Meaning of “All Tomorrow’s Parties” by The Velvet Underground (ft. Nico)

Interestingly, co-production credit for “All Tomorrow’s Parties” goes to Andy Warhol (1928-1987), who is not only a legendary visual artist but also one of the most notable celebrity socialites of the late 20th century. 

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for The Velvet Underground's All Tomorrow's Parties at Lyrics.org.

Furthermore, this song is said to have been inspired by what was known as Warhol’s Factory, a studio Andy held down in NYC which was the site of many fabled parties. Indeed, as comically alluded to in the Austin Powers series, Warhol was known just as much, if not more so known for his partying than his art. Furthermore, the Velvet Underground was very much part of the scene at The Factory back during its earlier days.

That said, whereas this song may have been influenced by that setting, the lyrics don’t directly touch on it at all. Rather, the subject is a “poor girl”. All things considered, she may be literally poor from the vocalist’s and indeed her own perspective, such as being compelled to wear “hand-me-down” clothes.

Or more specifically, said subject comes off as someone who may be obsessed in terms of ‘what costume to wear to all tomorrow’s parties’. In other words, reading in-between the lines, what these lyrics may be theoretically saying is that parties at The Factory were a perpetual occurrence.  Moreover, attendees were the fashion-conscious types. 

So the subject, being one who regularly attends yet at the same time is “poor” is already stressed out in terms of what she’s going to wear to these events into the foreseeable future.

Story’s Moral

And if the aforementioned theory behind the lyrics is true, then the moral of the story, as inferred in the third verse, appears to be that living this way, i.e. trying to keep up with tomorrow’s trends even though you can’t actually afford to do so, is caused by self-esteem issues or will ultimately result in depression.  Or put otherwise, the subject trying so hard to fit into the crowd is indicative of her possessing deeper, personal matters.

But again, that’s just one way of trying to make comprehensive sense out of what’s being relayed.  For instance, it has also been suggested that all of these references to different types of dresses and days and what have you may be symbolic rather than literal. But either way, it’s apparent that whereas the subject may be the partying type, when she’s alone she “sits and cries”.

“And what costume shall the poor girl wear
To all tomorrow’s parties?
A hand-me-down dress from who knows where
To all tomorrow’s parties
And where will she go and what shall she do
When midnight comes around?
She’ll turn once more to Sunday’s clown
And cry behind the door”

Interesting Facts

Oh man, “All Tomorrow’s Parties” can be considered a true gem in the world of rock music. The song has got some fascinating history and fun facts attached to it. One example of this is the earlier mentioned Andy Warhol Connection. First off, it was Andy Warhol – yeah, the pop art genius – who produced the album “The Velvet Underground & Nico,” where this track comes from. The song, like much of the album, reflects the grit and glamour of Warhol’s famous Factory scene.

Also, it is worth noting that “All Tomorrow’s Parties” was the band’s first single. Can you imagine kicking off with such a legendary track?

Who is Nico?

The song features Nico on lead vocals. Nico was a German model, actress, and singer who Warhol introduced to the band. Nico died in 1988 at the age of 49 from a bicycle accident while she was holidaying in Ibiza.

Influence of “All Tomorrow’s Parties”

Influence on Other Artists: Loads of artists have covered this track over the years, from Nick Cave to Japan, showing the enduring influence and appeal of the song. That’s the sign of a real banger!

All Tomorrow's Parties

When was “All Tomorrow’s Parties” released?

This song was released in July of 1966 as a single from “The Velvet Underground & Nico”, which is the maiden album of the Velvet Underground.

Who wrote “All Tomorrow’s Parties”?

American singer and songwriter Lou Reed is credited as the sole writer of this song.

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