A compilation of unreleased songs by the late, Freeport-raised rock legend Lou Reed has been discovered on a cassette tape in the archives of The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.
Cornell University said Wednesday that Judith Peraino, a music professor there, had found the cassette, labeled "The Philosophy Songs," among the nearly 3,500 audiotapes saved by the late pop artist Warhol. One side contained a dozen songs recorded by Reed in his New York apartment in 1975, based on Warhol's book "The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back."
"I popped it into the tape player," Peraino says in a video accompanying the news release, "and … on one side I heard these live performances of Lou Reed that were clearly edited together. And the other side had these songs." She did not "immediately recognize it as Lou Reed's voice. It was a singer and clearly recording himself in his own apartment in New York — you could hear traffic noise between songs and then guitar accompaniment."
The significance of the discovery only struck her, she says, when Greg Pierce, a curator of the Warhol museum's film and video archive, told her, " 'I think you've just discovered a lost Lou Reed album.' … And then I did the research to verify that it was in fact Lou Reed." Born in Brooklyn but raised in Freeport from age 11, the punk-rock progenitor and transgressive songwriter was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the band The Velvet Underground in 1996 and as a solo performer in 2015. Reed was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2010.
Peraino, who details the songs in her new Journal of Musicology article "I'll Be Your Mixtape: Lou Reed, Andy Warhol, and the Queer Intimacies of Cassettes," said in a statement, "What makes this rare is the gift aspect of the tape — that Lou Reed intentionally created both a curated set of songs and a composed set of songs on tape meant only for Warhol. This is a harbinger of the mixtape culture and gift-giving that flourished in the 1980s and 1990s."
Reed and Warhol had collaborated in the mid-1960s on projects including the album "The Velvet Underground and Nico." A decade later, Warhol approached Reed to create a never-realized Broadway musical based on Reed's album "Berlin."
"This tape from 1975 reveals an intimate side of Reed's musical portrait-making through a story that is his own, touching on his ongoing involvement with Andy Warhol and exploring the expressive potential of the medium of the cassette tape," Peraino said.
Reed, whose influential songs included "Walk on the Wild Side," "Sweet Jane" and "Perfect Day," died of liver disease at his home in Amagansett on Oct. 27, 2013. He was 71.
Exclusive subscription offer
Newsday covers the stories that matter most to Long Islanders. We dig deep to uncover the facts, hold the powerful in check and keep a watchful eye on Long Island.
Your digital subscription, starting at $1, supports local journalism vital to the community.SUBSCRIBE NOW