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18 July 2022

Lou Reed Earliest Demo For ‘Heroin’ Released

Lou Reed
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Lou Reed‘s earliest demo for The Velvet Underground’s Heroin has been shared. Light in the Attic and Laurie Anderson have released what is apparently the earliest known recording of the song.

Lou Reed made the demo with his Velvet Underground bandmate John Cale in May 1965. The Velvet Underground’s final version of the song was released on The Velvet Underground & Nico in March 1967. Hear the demo below.

Heroin (May 1965 Demo) is taken from the archival collection Words & Music, May 1965 — out 26 August. In addition to Heroin, the album features the earliest known recordings of I’m Waiting for the Man and Pale Blue Eyes. The album also includes a Cale-fronted version of Nico’s Chelsea Girl song Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams, a song called Men of Good Fortune (which shares a title with the Berlin track but has different lyrics and music), and a rarity oft-discussed in Velvet Underground mythology, Buttercup Song.

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.

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