Promo video for Nico’s “Evening of Light” directed by François De Menil in 1969, but probably finished much later. There was a tantalizingly brief clip of this in the Nico: Icon documentary. Not the album version of the song appearing on The Marble Index, this alternate take was released as part of The Frozen Borderline: 1968–1970 compilation in 2007.
The story is told in Richard Witts’ (fantastic) Nico biography, Nico: The Life and Lies of an Icon, that De Menil, heir to the Schlumberger Limited oil-equipment fortune via his mother’s family, who knew Nico via Warhol associate Fred Hughes, had become besotted by the Teutonic ice queen and proposed making a film with her.
At this time Nico was having a brief affair with a 21-year-old Iggy Pop, who she had met through John Cale, then producing the first Stooges album in New York. (Iggy once revealed to a French interviewer that Nico taught him how to “eat pussy.”) Nico told De Menil that he had to follow them to Ann Arbor, Michigan if he wanted to do it. De Menil obliged, shooting the film behind the house where the band lived.
The way Witts tells the tale is that De Menil seemed to want to get revenge on Iggy because he was Nico’s boyfriend, directing the Stooge to wear white mime makeup and frolic around in a doll-strewn field to embarrass him, but to my mind, this film—and Iggy’s participation in it—is absolutely stunning.
In an Australian interview Iggy told his version of how the film came to be:
“There were no videos and I didn’t know why she wanted to do this. She had a friend from a very, very wealthy dynasty called the de Menil family who are patrons of the arts in the USA. They have a couple of collections in Houston, they’re very powerful there, it’s oil money. They also contribute to the arts and the major museums in New York City.
“One of the sons, François, was a Nico fan. There was a nexus in New York between the disaffected and super rich kids and the Warhol group, where the art was interested in the money and the money was interested in being arty. She was supposed to do a film with this guy for a song called “Evening Of Light.” She told the guy at the last minute “actually, I’m going to Ann Arbor to live with The Stooges.”
“So he had to drive out with all of his stuff, which was very, very scarce at the time, there were no local rentals for this sort of stuff, and we did this video in a potato field for this beautiful song “Evening Of Light” that she sings accompanied and produced by John Cale, who throws all his art school tricks at this song and very effectively.”
“To me it evokes the old Europe, the feeling around twilight when the church clock is ringing six and the kids are playing in the square and there’s a kind of a peace at hand and a kind of a crack between the worlds and a kind of a feeling that you’re part of this ongoing generation of Euro culture. That’s how I heard it. John was astute enough to make sure this all musically collapses into some pretty scary violence.”
That it does…
Turn it up loud for the full effect!