I try to imagine someone at Verve/MGM hearing the tapes for The Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat and thinking ‘well, there’s your single, right there.’
I suspect someone figured, ‘well, it’s under three minutes, so why not?’
But then if brevity was key, the label could have opted to push the b-side, Here She Comes Now, which is little more than two minutes, yet the lyric, which could be about sex, drugs, or rock and roll (‘she’s made out of wood’ is either a pithy dis of a woman or a celebration of Lou’s guitar) is such that you again marvel that anyone put it on a 7” 45.
WLWH is meant to mimic the sensation of taking methamphetamine, but I can’t speak to that, being square and all.
What I can say is that it is a kind of murky, chugging, chaos, where you can barely make out the instrumentation, apart from the piano, which asserts itself as a percussive instrument, and that throbbing, droning bass by John Cale at the end that threatens to split your skull open.
I know most people think the VU was over when Moe Tucker sat out the Loaded sessions due to pregnancy, but for me, it ended when Lou Reed forced Cale out.