Words & Music, May 1965

Words & Music, May 1965 (Light in the Attic)

Contact Sam McAllister about Words & Music, May 1965

Light in the Attic Records, in cooperation with Laurie Anderson, are thrilled to share Lou Reed’s May 1965 demo of  “Heroin,” from Words & Music, May 1965, the inaugural title in their forthcoming Lou Reed Archive Series, out August 26th. Released in tandem with the late artist’s 80th birthday celebrations, Words & Music, May 1965 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. Like the previously shared demo of “I’m Waiting For The Man,” this version of “Heroin” is the earliest known recording of The Velvet Underground’s beloved track, and offers another stunning peak into Reed’s creative process.


Words & Music, May 1965 will be available on August 26th in a variety of formats, including LP, cassette, 8-track, digital, and CD. The centerpiece of the inaugural Lou Reed Archive Series release is the Deluxe 45-RPM Double LP Edition of Words & Music, May 1965. Limited to 7,500 copies worldwide, this collection was designed by multi-GRAMMY®-winning artist Masaki Koike and features a stylized, die-cut gatefold jacket manufactured by Stoughton Printing Co. Housed inside are two 45-RPM 12-inch LPs, pressed on HQ-audiophile-quality 180-gram vinyl at Record Technology Inc. (RTI) featuring the only vinyl release of “I’m Waiting for the Man – May 1965 Alternate Version.” A bonus 7-inch, housed in its own unique die-cut picture sleeve and manufactured at Third Man Record Pressing includes the only vinyl release of six previously-unreleased bonus tracks providing a never-before-seen glimpse into Reed’s formative years, including early demos, a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” and a doo-wop serenade recorded in 1958 when the legendary singer-songwriter was just sixteen years old. An accompanying saddle-stitched, die-cut 28-page book features lyrics, archival photos, and liner notes. Also included is an archival reproduction of a rarely-seen letter, written by Reed to his college professor and poet, Delmore Schwartz, circa 1964. The set includes a CD containing the complete audio from the package, housed in a die-cut jacket.


The 11-track digital release of Words & Music, May 1965 will be available across all platforms, alongside the physical formats, on August 26th. A six-song digital EP, Gee Whiz, 1958-1964, drops on October 7th, offering the above-mentioned bonus content.


To help celebrate the release, Light in the Attic will also invite listeners to intimately experience Words & Music through a podcast hosted by TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe. In partnership with Little Everywhere and Ruinous Media, this special program will feature exclusive audio, archival materials, and interviews with many of the album’s participants. Available on all podcast platforms on August 26th.


For those seeking an even deeper dive into Reed’s legacy, ​​The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts (which houses Reed’s recently-unearthed recordings) will be hosting a special exhibit this summer, curated by Don Fleming and Jason Stern. Just opened last month, Lou Reed: Caught Between the Twisted Stars chronicles the life’s work of the songwriter, musician, performer, photographer, poet, and accomplished tai chi practitioner—as through the voices, images, and music of Reed and his collaborators. For more information, visit nypl.org.


Throughout 2022 and beyond, Light in the Attic will continue to honor the music and influence of Reed through the Lou Reed Archive Series. Visit LightInTheAttic.net or LouReedArchive.com to learn more, and stay tuned for forthcoming releases.