I'm Waiting for the Man

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"I'm Waiting for the Man"
Song by The Velvet Underground from the album The Velvet Underground & Nico
Released March 1967
Recorded May 1966 T.T.G. Studios, Hollywood, California, U.S.
Genre Garage rock,[1] protopunk,[2] hard rock[3]
Length 4:39
Label Verve Records
Writer Lou Reed
Composer Lou Reed
Producer Andy Warhol
The Velvet Underground & Nico track listing
  1. "Sunday Morning"
  2. "I'm Waiting for the Man"
  3. "Femme Fatale"
  4. "Venus in Furs"
  5. "Run Run Run"
  6. "All Tomorrow's Parties"
  7. "Heroin"
  8. "There She Goes Again"
  9. "I'll Be Your Mirror"
  10. "The Black Angel's Death Song"
  11. "European Son"

"I'm Waiting for the Man" is a song by the American rock band the Velvet Underground, written by Lou Reed. It was first released on their 1967 debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico.

The song is about purchasing $26 worth of heroin in a Harlem brownstone near the intersection of Lexington Avenue and 125th Street in New York City. The song is sung from the point of view of the purchaser who is presumably traveling to Harlem from another part of the city; the "man" in the song's title is a drug dealer. Along with traditional guitar, bass, and drums, the song also features pounding, percussive rock-and-roll barrelhouse-style piano. It is one of the band's more popular songs, and one of their many compositions featuring drugs as subject matter. After leaving the band in 1970, Lou Reed continued to incorporate the song into his solo live performances.

It was released as a single in October 1971 (with "There She Goes Again" on the B-side) as Andy Warhol's Velvet Underground on MGM Records.[4]

In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it #159 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[5][6]

Alternate versions[edit]

Ludlow Street Loft, July 1965[edit]

A row of tenements on the Lower East Side.

The song was among a set of early songs to be recorded by Lou Reed, John Cale and Sterling Morrison in the band's Ludlow Street loft in Manhattan. This version of the song, free of percussion, has a considerably more folk and even blues influence in style than the album version. It is available on the first disc of the Peel Slowly and See box set.

Scepter Studios, April 1966[edit]

Before the final album version of the song was re-recorded at T.T.G. Studios, in Hollywood, California, a different take of the song was originally recorded at Scepter Studios in New York City. This take of the song is slightly shorter, the piano is less audible and instead of drums, a tambourine is employed. Also of note is that Reed sings "I'm waiting for the man" at the beginning of the song. Though the album version, Reed sings "I'm waiting for my man."


Cover versions[edit]

Velvet Underground members Lou Reed, John Cale, Nico, and Maureen Tucker have all recorded solo versions.

Other artists who have recorded covers of the song include:

Live covers[edit]

Remixed forms and lyric usage[edit]


See also[edit]