No one’s ever rediscovered a mixtape quite like this.
A cassette found in the archives at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh features a suite of previously unreleased songs by the late Lou Reed, loosely based on the artist’s 1975 book The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again.
The recordings date to the same year as the book release. Side A has live tracks from Reed’s 1975 tour, while side B — entitled “Philosophy Songs (From A to B & Back)” — features 13 never-heard sketches of Reed singing alone with a guitar, ruminating on fame, sex and drag queens. There’s also a track that criticizes Warhol for his indifference to the death of two figures from his inner circle, a song lamenting how the artist didn’t die when he was shot in 1968 … and also a spoken apology.
Why the mixed emotions? Warhol was briefly the manager for Reed’s iconic band the Velvet Underground, but the two had a rather acrimonious split.
“This tape is Lou Reed working out what he does best,” says Cornell Professor Judith A. Peraino, who actually discovered the tape two years ago while doing research for a book. “Which is figuring out the character of his song, telling the stories, being as brutally honest as he is in many of his writings.”
More information about the tape’s discovery and contents (along with a few downloadable audio clips) can be found Peraino’s new essay, “I’ll Be Your Mixtape: Lou Reed, Andy Warhol, and the Queer Intimacies of Cassettes,” published this week in The Journal of Musicology. You can also stream a 30-second snippet here.
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