Songs Lou Reed recorded for Andy Warhol unearthed from 1975 cassette tape

Hear a 30-second snippet of one of the tracks now

A previously unknown suite of songs the late Lou Reed recorded for Andy Warhol – the iconic pop artist, significant collaborator of the Velvet Underground and the band’s onetime manager – has been unearthed from a 1975 cassette tape.

Judith Peraino, a professor of music at Cornell University, came across the tape two years ago while doing research at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, the New York Times reported. Yesterday, Peraino published “I’ll Be Your Mixtape: Lou Reed, Andy Warhol, and the Queer Intimacies of Cassettes”, an article that engages with the discovery, in The Journal of Musicology.

One side of the cassette held live recordings that Reed had put together from his 1975 tour. The other was labelled ‘Philosophy Songs (From A to B & Back)’ and contained 12 songs and a fragment of a 13th, all featuring Reed singing alone with his guitar. For the lyrics, Reed drew on the book Warhol had published that year, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B & Back Again).

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“This tape is Lou Reed working out what he does best,” Peraino told the NYT, “which is figuring out the character of his song, telling the stories, being as brutally honest as he is in many of his writings.” Stream a 30-second excerpt of one of the songs on Variety here.

Reed’s widow Laurie Anderson told the NYT she had not known about the songs’ existence, though Reed had talked about “some things that he had made for Andy”.

It’s an open question whether the tape will remain property of the Warhol Museum, or if it will be claimed by Reed’s estate or his former record label. It’s also unclear if the songs will eventually be made publicly accessible. The cassette is still at the Warhol Museum, and access is restricted to professional scholars.

According to the museum’s rules, no copies of the tape can be made. Peraino was also not allowed to quote directly from the lyrics. However, the 30-second clip mentioned above was released with the permission of the Lou Reed Estate.

October 27 marked six years since Reed’s death from liver disease in 2013. Last month, the book publisher Faber & Faber announced it would be reissuing a volume of Reed’s lyrics. The book will be updated with additional material from his final album and the controversial Metallica collaboration album ‘Lulu’, as well as new introductions from Anderson, the director Martin Scorsese and the journalist James Atlas.

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