Velvet Underground, Lady Godiva and Taxation

Velvet Underground once sang a song about Lady Godiva, a female figure that went down in history for refusing to pay taxes.

Even though her name is mostly known from the Belgian chocolate brand, Godiva was actually the wife of the Earl of Mercia, Leofric. And if it was one thing about her husband that she couldn’t stand, it was the tremendous taxation he imposed on his subjects.

Legend has it that Godiva begged Leofric to reduce the tithe and he, in turn, promised that he would do it, only if she would ride around the town naked on a horse.

And so she did, after she ordered the people of the city to close their eyes of course.

That’s what the legend says anyway. In reality every single historian you ask, will explain to you that Leofric and Godiva actually crushed the common folk through fierce taxation and offered the money to monasteries.

The people were hungry and their prince not only refrained from taxing the property of the church but also engaged on a constant effort of wealth redistribution that favored only the few and the rich of that era.

As for Velvet Underground, for some reason they decided to end the song with a description of a surgical procedure.

Lady Godiva here dressed so demurely
Pats the head of another curly haired boy, just another toy
Sick with silence she weeps sincerely
Saying word that have oh so clearly been said
So long ago
Draperies wrapped gently ’round her shoulder
Life has made her that much bolder now
That she’s found out how
Dressed in silk, Latin lace and envy
Pride and joy of the latest penny faire
Pretty passing care
Hair today now dipped in the water
Making love to every poor daughter’s son
Isn’t it fun
Now today propping grace with envy
Lady Godiva peers to see if anyone’s there
And hasn’t a care
Doctor is coming the nurse thinks sweetly
Turning on the machines that neatly pump air
The body lies bare
Shaved and hairless what once was screaming
Now lies silent and almost sleeping
The brain must have gone away
Strapped securely to the white table
Ether caused the body to wither and writhe
Underneath the white light
Doctor arrives with knife and baggage
Sees the growth as just so much cabbage
That now
Must be cut away
Now come the moment of Great! Great! Decision!
The doctor is making his first incision
One goes here – one goes there
The ether tube’s leaking says someone who’s sloppy
The patient it seems is not so well sleeping
The screams echo up the hall
Don’t panic someone give him pentathol instantly
Doctor removes his blade
Cagily slow from the brain
By my count of ten
The head won’t move

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