Subscribe to our newsletter

(Credit: Gijsbert Hanekroot / Alamy)


Lou Reed-Velvet Underground demos set for album release


Back in 1965, Lou Reed and his new friend John Cale decided that they wanted to record music together. With the initial ideas for a band beginning to form, Reed and Cale made a demo tape that Reed sent back to himself through the mail. The package containing those demos went unopened for nearly 50 years.

Now, the tape containing some of the earliest demos ever recorded for what would eventually become The Velvet Underground is seeing an official release. That’s thanks to the record label Lights in the Attic, which specialises in reissue campaigns, partnering with Reed’s widow Laurie Anderson.

A new album featuring those demos entitled Words & Music: May 1965 is now being prepped for an August 26th release. The bulk of the album will contain the titular demos that Reed and Cale recorded back in the mid-1960s, with a few additional rehearsals and home recordings that Reed made during his early years, including a recording that Reed made all the way back in 1958 as a 16-year-old.

A few of the songs that were recorded on the 1965 demo tape later became Velvet Underground classics, including ‘I’m Waiting for the Man’, ‘Heroin’, and ‘Pale Blue Eyes’. Other tracks from the tape include songs that would take another decade to see official releases, including ‘Men of Good Fortune’, which later found its way onto Reed’s 1973 album Berlin. A version of ‘Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams’, later recorded by Nico on her 1967 album Chelsea Girl is also included.

Elsewhere, home recordings of Reed from the same era are also being included on the album. That includes two Bob Dylan covers, ‘Baby, Let Me Follow You Down’ and ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right’, that had only been released a year or two before Reed recorded them himself.

Words & Music: May 1965 is the first in a planned series of archival releases from Reed. The album will be released in a number of formats along with an accompanying podcast that will premiere the day of the album’s release, hosted by TV on the Radio singer Tunde Adebimpe.

Check out the full tracklist of Words & Music: May 1965, plus the demo version of ‘I’m Waiting for the Man’, down below. Words & Music: May 1965 is set for an August 26th release.

Words & Music: May 1965 tracklisting:

1. ‘Iʼ’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. ‘Iʼm Waiting For The Man’ (May 1965 Alternate Version)
12. ‘Gee Whiz’ (1958 Rehearsal)
13. ‘Baby, Let Me Follow You Down’ (1963/64 Home Recording)
14. ‘Michael, Row The Boat Ashore’ (1963/64 Home Recording)
15. ‘Donʼt Think Twice, Itʼs All Right’ (Partial) (1963/64 Home Recording)
16. ‘W & X, Y, Z Blues’ (1963/64 Home Recording)
17. ‘Louʼs 12-Bar Instrumental’ (1963/64 Home Recording)