To hear the first few seconds of the video above may catch you by surprise: It’s Lou Reed announcing the title of a song while declaring he wrote the words and music. Only it’s a song we know very well — “I’m Waiting for the Man” — and it’s from 1965.
The earliest known recording of the New York classic pre-dates the Velvet Underground, with whom Reed would release it two years later on The Velvet Underground & Nico. The demo is off Words & Music, May 1965, the first installment from the Lou Reed Archive Series, out Aug. 26.
Light in the Attic teamed up with Laurie Anderson for the series, in celebration of what would have been Reed’s 80th birthday on March 2. Reed recorded the demos with future bandmate John Cale, sealing them in an envelope he addressed to himself — and where they remained unheard for nearly 50 years.
Other tracks include Velvet classics like “Pale Blue Eyes” and “Heroin,” as well as Reed covering Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” and “Baby, Let Me Follow You Down.” Several songs are previously unreleased, from “Men of Good Fortune” to “Stockpile” to “Gee Whiz.” The collection will be released in various formats, with a deluxe edition that contains a 7-inch of these unheard rarities pressed at Jack White’s Third Man Records.
Anderson produced Words & Music with Don Fleming, Jason Stern, Matt Sullivan, and the late Hal Willner. It was newly remastered by John Baldwin, while Greil Marcus wrote the liner notes.
“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,” Marcus writes.
Fleming and Stern also curated the upcoming exhibit Lou Reed: Caught Between the Twisted Stars, opening June 9 at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Light in the Attic will celebrate the Archives release with the podcast hosted by TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, out Aug. 26.
Words & Music, May 1965 Deluxe Edition Tracklist
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) *