What began as an effort to obtain a “poor-man’s copyright“ 57 years ago is now a fascinating glimpse at Lou Reed becoming Lou Reed and evidence he may have been the first next Bob Dylan.

With future Velvet Underground bandmate John Cale assisting, Reed recorded acoustic home demos and mailed them to himself to achieve the aforementioned protection. Unbelievably, the envelope remained sealed for more than a half century; the priceless contents unheard.

Until now and the release of Words & Music, May 1965.

Reed introduces each song by title and “words and music” – or similar words – “Lou Reed.” Acoustic guitars, occasional harmonica and Cale’s charming, imperfect harmonies are the order of the day as Reed reveals a good-natured falsetto on “Men of Good Fortune” and previews the advent of punk on the relentless “Buzz, Buzz, Buzz.”

Demos of never-released songs aren’t supposed to be this riveting. But these are ear-popping revelations. And then there are the earliest-known recordings of VU’s “I’m Waiting for the Man,” “Heroin” and “Pale Blue Eyes.”


One needn’t be a Reed or Velvets fan to appreciate the incipient genius in these recordings, but it won’t hurt.