Lou Reed’s Mixtape for Andy Warhol Discovered by Cornell University Professor: Features 12 Previously Unreleased Songs

Image via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

It’s every researcher’s dream: that some­where among the pile of mate­ri­als lies gold, an undis­cov­ered mas­ter­piece, or an unknown piece to a puz­zle that com­pli­cates con­ven­tion­al knowl­edge. That’s what Cor­nell University’s Judith Peraino dis­cov­ered while going through some of the 3,500 cas­settes in the Andy Warhol archive. Here she found a mix-tape cas­sette that Lou Reed had made for Andy in the mid-sev­en­ties, with one side a selec­tion of songs from recent live gigs, the oth­er side con­tain­ing 12 unknown and unre­leased songs by Reed, accom­pa­nied by only his gui­tar, record­ed at home in New York City.

Labeled “The Phi­los­o­phy Songs (From A to B and Back),” the songs are Reed’s response to Warhol’s 1975 book The Phi­los­o­phy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again, which his men­tor had sent to Reed in gal­ley proof. Their rela­tion­ship was always dif­fi­cult. After an unpleas­ant breakup after the Vel­vet Under­ground came out from under Warhol’s shad­ow, the two nev­er worked togeth­er again. But they kept in touch in the way that cer­tain bit­ter exes do: keep­ing it cor­dial, pos­si­bly con­sid­er­ing work­ing togeth­er again, then real­iz­ing why they broke up in the first place.

Prof. Peraino sur­mised that the tape is relat­ed to a musi­cal Warhol want­ed to cre­ate with Reed based on Warhol’s book. And in fact Reed uses pas­sages from the book as jump­ing off points for the lyrics, she found. There’s a song each about “fame, sex, and the busi­ness of art,” and two about drag queens. But Reed used oth­er songs to crit­i­cize Warhol for his seem­ing indif­fer­ence to the deaths of Fac­to­ry stars Can­dy Dar­ling and Eric Emer­son, adding that he should have died after being shot in 1968. Reed then apolo­gies to Warhol at the end of the song.

Because her research was about the begin­nings of mix­tape cul­ture, queer­ness, and Warhol’s end­less box­es of cas­settes, she is excit­ed about both sides of the tape. Mix­tapes, she explains, were a way for peo­ple to com­mu­ni­cate com­plex emo­tions with­out hav­ing to sim­ply write them down. Songs strike emo­tion­al chords in so many ways.

The tape “is an exam­ple of Lou Reed curat­ing him­self, putting togeth­er an ide­al set list for Andy Warhol,” Peraino says in Cornell’s video inter­view. “I see the mes­sage of the tape as being both courtship and breakup in a sense. The one side is say­ing, look at me, what I’ve able to do this year…and now look at you.”

Apart from a 30-sec­ond excerpt, found on Variety’s web page, there are no cur­rent plans to release some­thing so rough, and with so many rights issues at stake.

Lou Reed did go on to make some­thing sim­i­lar how­ev­er, when in 1990 he wrote Songs for Drel­la with fel­low Vel­vet John Cale.

via Cor­nell

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Andy Warhol Eat an Entire Burg­er King Whopper–While Wish­ing the Burg­er Came from McDonald’s (1981)

Andy Warhol Demys­ti­fied: Four Videos Explain His Ground­break­ing Art and Its Cul­tur­al Impact

The Lou Reed Archive Opens at the New York Pub­lic Library: Get Your Own Lou Reed Library Card and Check It Out

Meet the Char­ac­ters Immor­tal­ized in Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side”: The Stars and Gay Rights Icons from Andy Warhol’s Fac­to­ry Scene

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the artist inter­view-based FunkZone Pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

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