Eric Erlandson photo by: Beth Schore/Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls Los Angeles

“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today’s guest is a bona fide rock n’ roll legend whose music has had real continued resonance both for me personally and for the fanzine. He is the co-founder, songwriter and lead guitarist of Hole which he formed with Courtney Love. I remember the raw power of the Kim Gordon produced “Pretty On The Inside” when I got the CD while writing the original xeroxed VS, and the “Beautiful Son” single takes some beating while “Olympia” was a heavy feature on the John Peel Festive 50 of 1993 which got a real bashing on a C90 after being taped off the radio (don’t tell anyone). When I started working at MTV Europe, and the video for “Celebrity Skin” turned up it completely defribulated my post Britpop lull, I truly felt punk again, and it was great to be able to choose a video for play that I didn’t mind seeing in heavy rotation and I still never tire of this slice of perfect pop. It’s a real thrill to welcome to VS, the most excellent Eric Erlandson!

Eric Erlandson photo by Planet Swan

Eric has a book published by the excellent Akashic Books. Called “Letters To Kurt” – it’s a poetic elegy to Kurt Cobain and “the “suicide idols” who tragically fail to find salvation in their amazing music”. 52 letters, which meditate on many of rock’s most enduring tropes: sex, drugs, suicide, fame and rage”. A bit Berryman, Bukowski or Ginsberg, it’s a gonzo stream of sometimes painful, mostly beautiful thoughts that will chime with (people like me) who are stuck in “the year that punk broke” and who better to write it than someone who’s been there and got the tie-dyed t-shirt, and much deeper wounds besides. Totally recommend it.


I asked Eric what he’s up to at the moment and excitingly he says this:

“I’m currently working on a Hole boxset (a huge endeavor), and various solo projects. Also, spending a lot of time helping others practice the form of Buddhism I do, because the world sure needs it!”

Before we get into Eric’s (not one, but two) great song choices – here’s “Celebrity Skin” – just because…

and without further ado, here’s Eric’s “song(s) for ewe”…

“1. I’ve been obsessed with this John Cale masterpiece of late – “Gideon’s Bible”. Such a perfect pop gem! The floaty verses into big sweeping chorus. Simple piano, acoustic guitar, slide, viola, but mixed exquisitely. I love the way the instruments are panned hard left and right. And the melodies and harmony backups are to die for.

But what really gets me are the lyrics. Good vintage violence. I suppose it could be referencing the Boxer Rebellion in China back in 1899, which began as an anti-colonialist, anti-Christian uprising by a group of mostly martial artists.

But it also seems quite relevant today as the imperialist/capitalist forces invade China once again, along with those pesky missionaries. “Holding on with both eyes to things that don’t exist.” Yea, like the Wizard behind the screen (or up in the sky) who controls the world? Then there’s “Grand Old Mother Greedy” which conjures up America and her loot and pillage destructo-machine.

Ok, yea, it could be the Queen too, but I’m biased. There’s also a whiff of opium in there somewhere. And now with China affecting the world economically, socially and politically, that lyric “the force of China felt” is way apropos. Sometimes when you write about the past, you end up writing about the future without realizing it.

2. Another song I’ve been listening to a lot is “Cryptic Shapes”, a romantic ditty by Tobin Sprout from GBV. My New Zealander girlfriend who has decent taste in music (except for the odd Brian Jonestown tune) turned me onto it during a road trip. It’s great driving music. But I misheard the lyrics and thought he was singing, “I’ll buy you an island,” which is kinda cool, though more Mick Jagger than Tobin Sprout really. Then I discovered that the Troggs have a creepy song called just that! Anyway, my girlfriend isn’t speaking to me right now, so she can have her island. I’ll go find my own.

tobin sprout:


Hope that works.