Lou Reed’s Earliest Recordings to Be Released in Archival Series
Some of Lou Reed's earliest records will be released this summer as part of a new archival series.
In partnership with Reed's widow, Laurie Anderson, acclaimed label Light in the Attic will release the first album of the series, Words & Music, May 1965, on Aug. 26. The LP features early demos of songs like “Heroin,” “I’m Waiting for the Man” and “Pale Blue Eyes" that Reed recorded with Velvet Underground bandmate John Cale.
Up until now, the five-inch reel of recordings, which Reed mailed to himself as a "poor man's copyright," had remained sealed for close to 50 years. The tape was found in Reed’s office untouched after his death in 2013. Other previously unreleased compositions are included in the new collection, too. You can see the track listing below.
You can listen to a previously unheard 1965 demo of "I'm Waiting for the Man" below.
Liner notes for the collection were provided by music journalist Greil Marcus, who writes, “The poverty in these songs — the bathtub-in-the-kitchen you hear in their clumsiness, the fifth-floor-walkup you can hear in their defiance — lets you hear them, now, as chalk on a wall, not the markings that wash away in the next rain but inscriptions that somehow become part of the brick, even if in a year or two no one will be able to read them. Each of these songs is its own bildungsroman.
"They make a darkness, and Reed and Cale try to feel their way through it. In ‘Heroin,’ there’s just a hint of the hurricane it will become and the enormous authority it will carry two years later. … ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ says go farther, there’s no end to this, and you know that they will go farther — they’re almost there.”
You can watch an album trailer for Words & Music, May 1965 below.
Words & Music, May 1965 will be available in several formats, including LP, cassette, 8-track, digital and CD, and can be preordered now. The deluxe two-LP edition, which will be limited to 7,500 copies, also includes an additional 7" record manufactured at Jack White's Third Man Record Pressing that features six early songs, plus a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.” (These six songs will also be released as a digital EP, Gee Whiz, 1958-1964, on Oct. 7.)
The reel-to-reel tape will be physically on display this week, along with other Reed-related artifacts, at Lou Reed: Caught Between the Twisted Stars. The exhibition opens on June 9 at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
“This collection is to inspire people,” Anderson said in a recent interview. “It’s not necessarily to say, ‘Here’s the real Lou Reed.’ That’s never what it was meant to be. Here’s a lot of his music and how he did it. Be inspired by it. But it’s not and can’t be a real picture of the man.”
Lou Reed, 'Words & Music, May 1965' Track Listing
1. "I’m Waiting for the Man" (May 1965 Demo)
2. "Men of Good Fortune" (May 1965 Demo) *
3. "Heroin" (May 1965 Demo)
4. "Too Late" (May 1965 Demo) *
5. "Buttercup Song" (May 1965 Demo)
6. "Walk Alone" (May 1965 Demo)
7. "Buzz Buzz Buzz (May 1965 Demo)
8. "Pale Blue Eyes" (May 1965 Demo)
9. "Stockpile" (May 1965 Demo) *
10. "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams" (May 1965 Demo)
11. "I’m Waiting for the Man" (May 1965 Alternate Version)
1. "Gee Whiz" - (1958 Rehearsal) *
2. "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down" (1963/64 Home Recording)
3. "Michael, Row The Boat Ashore" (1963/64 Home Recording)
4. "Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right" (Partial) (1963/64 Home Recording)
5. "W & X, Y, Z Blues" (1963/64 Home Recording) *
6. "Lou’s 12-Bar Instrumental" (1963/64 Home Recording) *
* Previously unheard composition