I'm Waiting for the Man

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"I'm Waiting for the Man"
I'm Waiting for the Man.jpg
Song by The Velvet Underground
from the album The Velvet Underground & Nico
Released March 12, 1967 (1967-03-12)
Length 4:39
Label Verve
Songwriter(s) Lou Reed
Composer(s) Lou Reed
Producer(s) 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 (equivalent to $187 in 2016) in a Harlem brownstone near the intersection of Lexington Avenue and 125th Street in New York City, 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 title is a drug dealer. Along with traditional guitars, 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 it into his solo live performances.

It was released as a single in October 1971 (with "There She Goes Again" on the B-side) as by Andy Warhol's Velvet Underground on MGM Records.[3]

In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it #159 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[4][5]

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.[citation needed] 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 recorded in May 1966, at T.T.G. Studios in Hollywood, a different take was recorded in April 1966 at Scepter Studios in Manhattan. The original Manhattan take 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; on the album version, Reed sings "I'm waiting for my man."


Cover versions[edit]

Nico and Velvet Underground members Lou Reed, John Cale 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]

  • 2 Many DJs compilation album As Heard on Radio Soulwax Pt. 2 uses the song's original recording in remixed form.
  • Death Cab for Cutie's lyric "To a brownstone, up three flights of stairs" in their song "No Joy in Mudville" is a direct, uncredited lift from "I'm Waiting For The Man".
  • The lyrics were used in the 2002 ballet by Édouard Lock and La La La Human Steps "Amelia" with completely different music by David Lang.
  • Titus Andronicus includes the lyric "So now in Rock Ridge pharmacy I will be waiting for my man" in the song "No Future Part Three: Escape from No Future" on the album The Monitor.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Velvet Underground & Nico – The Velvet Underground". Allmusic. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  2. ^ "The Velvet Underground, 'I'm Waiting for the Man' – 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "I'm Waiting for the Man / There She Goes Again by Andy Warhol's Velvet Underground (Single, Garage Rock): Reviews, Ratings, Credits, Song list – Rate Your Music". Rateyourmusic.com. 11 October 2012. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  4. ^ The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time at Rolling Stone (101-200)
  5. ^ I'm Waiting for the Man at Rolling Stone
  6. ^ Video of the Riot Squad version on YouTube
  7. ^ "Jimmy Page and the Yardbirds cover the Velvet Underground in 1968". DangerousMinds. 2017-03-02. Retrieved 2017-04-30. 
  8. ^ "Iggy Pop - Nuggets". Discogs. Retrieved 2017-04-30. 
  9. ^ Video of the Beck version on YouTube
  10. ^ "Listen to a clip from the Eater version on Amazon". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  11. ^ "The Riffs discography". Musicbrainz.org. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  12. ^ "Full Albums: The Velvet Underground & Nico » Cover Me". Covermesongs.com. Retrieved 2012-01-11. 
  13. ^ "One for the Money – Sheep on Drugs – Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  14. ^ "Do it Dog Style Amazon track listing". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  15. ^ "UK Subs discography". Newredarchives.com. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  16. ^ "Amazon track listing for Press The Eject And Give Me The Tape". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  17. ^ [1] Archived January 14, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ "After 23 years, Pearl Jam finally comes to Baltimore". Baltimoresun.com. 28 October 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  19. ^ [2] Archived December 18, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  20. ^ "Priory of Brion Songs". Users.globalnet.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-01-11. 
  21. ^ "TRB discography". Tomrobinson.com. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  22. ^ "Richard Hawley – I'm Waiting For The Man". Vimeo.com. Retrieved 2 October 2014.