Unearthed Lou Reed Demo Tape Reveals Andy Warhol Lyrics
A long-lost cassette tape reveals new wrinkles in the pair’s notoriously contentious relationship.
A newly discovered Lou Reed demo finds the music legend musing over his contentious relationship with one-time mentor Andy Warhol. With Warhol being the original “manager” of The Velvet Underground, he and Reed famously fell out in the late ’60s, with the pair never really reconciling before their respective deaths in 1987 and 2013.
Now, Reed’s estate has unearthed a demo tape from the artist’s archive containing lyrics taken from Warhol’s 1975 book, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again. According to Cornell professor Judith A. Peraino, who was allowed access to the tape while doing research, Side 1 has live recordings of Reed from 1975. But Side 2 of the tape is where the magic lies. With a handwritten label that reads “Philosophy Songs (From A to B & Back),” it holds twelve tracks total, and a snippet of a thirteenth. Not only has none of that music ever been released, most people didn’t know it even existed.
“He had talked about some things that he had made for Andy,” Reed’s widow, the artist Laurie Anderson, told New York Times, “but they were always in the context of Andy telling him how lazy he was. You know, ‘Lou, you’re so laaazy.’ I think that may have had a little bit to do with the motivation of him saying, like, ‘OK, you can write a book; I’ll write some songs about your book.’”
While there were talks in 1974 of the two possibly coming together on a reunion stage project, it never came to fruition, and the Reed-Warhol feud raged on. As for the world hearing any of these demos, things don’t look very promising—yet. No copies of the tape are allowed per rules of the estate, and Peraino is forbidden from directly quoting any of the lyrics publicly.
“These are rough versions of songs which Reed never really perfected,” Peraino stressed. “Even though they can be quite caustic and bitter at times—as Lou Reed songs can be—they are part of his legacy.”