Tom Verlaine – the guitarist who played an orgasm

Television in 1976 – Tom Verlaine is the one with his hand forward

Tom Verlaine has died at the young age of 73. He wrote one of the great songs of the 20th Century- Marquee Moon, which I bought off a school friend when I was 15.

To a young lad in his first love affair, it was musical depiction of the sexual act.

I never bought the album – just that song. Verlaine used to play with Richard Hell but they split before Marquee Moon. Hell went and did an album with a band called the Voidoids called “love comes in spurts” – t wasn’t much good. Marquee Moon covered the topic better

Later I bought the Verlaine song the critics said changed everything – “Little Johnny Jewel” It was ok but it was too arty for me. I bought the second album and I swapped it for a Ramones album which was a good swap.

In the summer of 1977, I  hitch-hiked to the Colston Hall in Bristol to see Verlaine’s band Television when they toured with Britain, I got there in time to watch the support bad – Blondie – who had just done “rip her to shreds”. I slept over at the back of the hall – pretty happy. That only made the song more sexy.

The sex thing about the song Marquee Moon is the middle bit. At about 4.30 it goes into a long guitar duet between Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd which builds till it get to 8.10 when it starts building to some kind of crescendo which happens 9 minutes in and then the song seems to come in a wonderful effusion of notes that flow blissfully to an end. The opening of the song then starts again.

The song is about love and death, le petit mort is a phrase that Verlaine the poet knew about.

I played this to my girlfriend and asked if she could feel like that from her body and she said yes – and that was when we had our first sex – thanks Tom. To those who get offended by the thought of under age sex, I was sixteen by then, she was two years older.

If you want to experience Marquee Moon for yourself – here is the you tube.


Thanks Tom Verlaine, you were then my favorite guitarist along with Neil Young . I know a lot more music now , but you wrote one song that will stick with me and I am sorry that you have died young. May you rest in bliss.


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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3 Responses to Tom Verlaine – the guitarist who played an orgasm

  1. Chris Lean says:

    Did not really get into Television till about 10 years after that (I bought the Blondie albums at the time).

    I bought the third album ‘Television’ from Tower Records in New York just after it was released. My favourite from that album-

  2. ‘Nantucket Sleighride’ by Mountain was a song that told a story – famously used in the theme for LWT’s Weekend World (Brian Waldren – RIP) in the 70s. I was introduced to it later in my life and realised what I had been missing! Great drum solo too!

    I can’t quite get so enthusiastic for ‘Marquee Moon’ but each to his own.

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