Lou Reed: Words & Music-May 1965 showcases pre-Velvet songs

Lou Reed Words Music May 1965

Lou Reed was raw and original. New York City was his element. If you listen to his early demos from 1965, you will see the beginnings of something special. Lou Reed’s Words & Music – May 1965 is a treasure trove of a pre-constructed lyrical foundation for the musical future of a brilliant musician in infancy.

“I was working for a record company as a songwriter,” Lou Reed remembered in 1972, “where they’d lock me in a room and they’d say, ‘Write ten surfing songs,’ ya know, and I wrote ‘Heroin’ and I said, ‘Hey, I’ve got something for ya.’  They said, ‘Never gonna happen, never gonna happen.'”  Reed wasn’t able to introduce “Heroin” to the world until March 1967 when the Verve label released The Velvet Underground & Nico.  The VU’s debut album disappointed commercially but became greatly influential; Brian Eno once quipped that while the LP only sold around 30,000 copies in its first five years, “everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band!”  (It’s been cited that it actually sold over 58,000 copies in two years.)  The influence of Lou Reed, who died in 2013 at the age of 71, as a songwriter and an artist, has remained mighty over the ensuing decades.  On August 26, 2022, Light in the Attic will launch The Lou Reed Archive Series with Words & Music, in May 1965.  Available on CD, cassette, and multiple vinyl formats, Words & Music will collect some of Reed’s earliest and most significant recordings.

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)
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. “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” (Partial) (1963/64 Home Recording)
16. “W & X, Y, Z Blues” (1963/64 Home Recording)
17. “Lou’s 12-Bar Instrumental” (1963/64 Home Recording)

lou reed words and music may 1965

“To hear a tape containing their earliest demos, recorded on May 11, 1965, and locked away until now, is to hear traces of things rarely associated with The Velvet Underground: blues and folk, earthy and traditional, uncertain and hesitant… yet bristling with that rusty, caustic, Lou Reed spirit. It is a revelation.” – Will Hodgkinson, MOJO. Light in the Attic Records, in cooperation with Laurie Anderson, proudly announces the inaugural title in their ongoing Lou Reed Archive Series: Words & Music, May 1965. Released in tandem with the late artist’s 80th birthday celebrations, the album offers an extraordinary, unvarnished, and plainly poignant insight into one of America’s true poet-songwriters. Capturing Reed in his formative years, this previously unreleased collection of songs-penned by a young Lou Reed, recorded to tape with the help of future bandmate John Cale, and mailed to himself as a “poor man’s copyright”-remained sealed in its original envelope and unopened for nearly 50 years. Its contents embody some of the most vital, groundbreaking contributions to American popular music committed to tape in the 20th century. Through examination of these songs rooted firmly in the folk tradition, we see clearly Lou’s lasting influence on the development of modern American music – from punk to art-rock and everything in between. A true time capsule, these recordings not only memorialize the nascent sparks of what would become the seeds of the incredibly influential Velvet Underground; they also cement Reed as a true observer with an innate talent for synthesizing and distilling the world around him into pure sonic poetry.

Words & Music – May 1965 is coming on August 26 on CD, cassette, black vinyl LP, and yellow vinyl LP, as well as a CD/2-LP/7-inch vinyl Deluxe Edition (the latter with all 17 tracks on CD and vinyl).  This foil-numbered Deluxe Edition limited to 7,500 units is housed in a die-cut gatefold printed at Stoughton and contains a 28-page saddle-stitched, die-cut book of lyrics, photos, and liner notes.  The vinyl versions have been pressed at RTI.  An 8-track cassette version sold out almost immediately.

Of interest: The Velvet Underground: A documentary film by Todd Hayne soundtrack