Stream an Early Demo of Lou Reed “Men of Good Fortune,” from New ‘Words & Music, May 1965’ Rarities Set 8/26

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Rock Cellar Magazine

On Aug. 26, Words & Music, May 1965 — a collection of some never-before-heard material from Lou Reed — will be released.

The latest preview of the set was shared recently in the form of “Men of Good Fortune,” a wildly different early version of a song that appeared on Reed‘s 1973 album, Berlin:

Per a news release:

“‘Men of Good Fortune’ has every trademark of one of the traditional Child Ballads from England and Scotland dating back for centuries and passed on from person to person,” says archivists Jason Stern and Don Fleming. “They had rarely been documented in print but were finally compiled in Francis James Child’s landmark book, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, published between 1882 and 1898. The Child Ballads were a great source of inspiration for folk artists in the early 1960s, with Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and Fairport Convention borrowing heavily from the book. Child Ballad #2, ‘The Elfin Knight,’ through a series of other singers, informed Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Scarborough Fair’ and Bob Dylan’s ‘Girl from the North Country.’ Child Ballad #2 and many others include a ‘maiden’ or ‘maid,’ as Reed portrays himself in the song. It’s notable how the words to this version of ‘Men of Good Fortune’ could seemingly fit right in as a variant of a Child Ballad, but it doesn’t appear to borrow lines from the book or other songs, traditional or popular. Reed sings and plays the song alone.”

The special set is timed to link up with the continued 80th birthday celebration of the musician/cultural icon, a milestone that was hit back in March of this year.

The new collection features the earliest-known recordings of “I’m Waiting for the Man” and “Pale Blue Eyes,” among a wealth of other material. It was also previewed with a 1965 demo recording of “Heroin”:

And “I’m Waiting for the Man”:

Click here to pre-order Words & Music, May 1965 Deluxe Edition at our Rock Cellar Store
Click here to pre-order Words & Music, May 1965 on CD from our Rock Cellar Store
Click here to pre-order Words & Music, May 1965 on Standard LP set from our Rock Cellar Store

More about the collection, per a news release:

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.


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 September 26th.

Here’s the track listing for the Deluxe Edition, so you can get an idea of the scope of this release:

Audiophile 45 RPM 12” LP (Record #1):

A1. I’m Waiting for the Man – May 1965 Demo

A2. Men of Good Fortune – May 1965 Demo

B1. Heroin – May 1965 Demo

B2. Too Late – May 1965 Demo

B3. Buttercup Song – May 1965 Demo

Audiophile 45 RPM 12” LP (Record #2):

C1. Walk Alone – May 1965 Demo

C2. Buzz Buzz Buzz – May 1965 Demo

C3. Pale Blue Eyes – May 1965 Demo

D1. Stockpile – May 1965 Demo

D2. Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams – May 1965 Demo

D3. I’m Waiting for the Man – May 1965 Alternate Version

7″ 45 RPM EP

A1. Gee Whiz – 1958 Rehearsal

A2. Baby, Let Me Follow You Down – 1963/64 Home Recordings

B1. Michael, Row The Boat Ashore – 1963/64 Home Recordings

B2. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right (Partial) – 1963/64 Home Recordings

B3. W & X, Y, Z Blues – 1963/64 Home Recordings

B4. Lou’s 12-Bar Instrumental – 1963/64 Home Recordings

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