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Unreleased Lou Reed songs have been discovered in The Andy Warhol Archives | News | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS
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Unreleased Lou Reed songs have been discovered in The Andy Warhol Archives

Cornell University musicology professor makes the discovery

Variety reports that Judith Peraino, a Cornell University musicology professor who was doing archival research at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, discovered rough versions of 12 previously unreleased songs by Lou Reed that had been recorded for Andy Warhol. The recordings were discovered on a cassette tape from 1975.

The found songs were recorded on one side (Side 2) of a cassette tape and are based on Warhol’s book The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again). This is how Reed himself annotated the tape.  Side 1 of the cassette consists of songs dubbed from soundboard recordings of Reed’s 1975 concerts.

As Peraino explained, “It sounds like he recorded them in his apartment with an open-air microphone, just voice, and acoustic guitar.” She added that she “wasn’t fully aware of what she had found until a Warhol Museum staffer commented that she had essentially discovered an unreleased Lou Reed album.”

In its report on the story, the New York Times notes that the tape features Reed sketching out the songs and using phrases from Warhol’s “Philosophy” book as raw material for lyrics. NYT adds that “one song draws out variations on the phrase “so what” — “one of my favorite things to say,” Warhol wrote — as a dismissive gesture, while Warhol’s perspectives on fame, sex, and the art business are addressed in one song each; two songs are about drag queens. Another finds Reed criticizing Warhol for his lack of response to the deaths of former acolytes Candy Darling and Eric Emerson. In another, “Reed sings that Warhol should have died when he was shot in 1968 — only to end the song with a spoken apology to Warhol, who died in 1987.”

Peraino told NYT that the “chance of the recordings being official released seems slim, due to issues over its copyright. The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts controls Warhol’s intellectual property in the archive, but the contents of the tape could also be claimed by the Reed estate or even his former record company.”

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