I'm Waiting for the Man
|"I'm Waiting for the Man"|
|Song by The Velvet Underground|
|from the album The Velvet Underground & Nico|
|Released||March 12, 1967|
|The Velvet Underground & Nico track listing|
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.
Ludlow Street Loft, July 1965
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
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."
- Lou Reed – lead vocal, lead guitar
- John Cale – piano, bass
- Sterling Morrison – rhythm guitar
- Maureen Tucker – drums, tambourine
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Other artists who have recorded covers of the song include:
- The Riot Squad (with David Bowie 1967)
- The Yardbirds (Jimmy Page lineup 1968)
- Iggy and the Stooges
- Celibate Rifles
- Charlie Harper on his 1982 album Stolen Property
- Električni Orgazam, on their album of English language covers Les Chansones Populaires
- Été 67, on the Belgian (but not French) version of their eponymous first album
- Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark as a B-side to the extended-play version of Messages
- Phillip Boa & the Voodooclub on the 1989 album Hair
- The Riffs on the 2001 album Underground Kicks
- Samm Bennett
- Sheep on Drugs, on their 1997 album One For The Money
- Slaughter & The Dogs, on their 1978 album Do it Dog Style
- U.K. Subs, B-side of the 1980 single Warhead
- Vanessa Paradis, on her eponymous 1992 English language debut album
- Vitamin String Quartet
- Fake on their 2007 debut single and later on their "One, Two, Fake You" EP and self-titled album.
- Robert Caruso, bonus track to the Ecce Homo CD, 2008
- Bauhaus (with Nico) included a live version on Press The Eject And Give Me The Tape
- Belle and Sebastian, recorded the song in 2001 and released on the BBC Sessions album
- Cheap Trick included a live recording of the song on the 1996 rarities collection Sex, America, Cheap Trick. Reportedly Robin Zander initially failed to learn the song's lyrics so Tom Petersson would sing it at early concerts. The band released a live performance as a single in 2017.
- David Bowie on Bowie at the Beeb. Another version of the song appeared on David Bowie's Live: Santa Monica '72 featuring Mick Ronson on guitar. (This performance was used in the 2000 film Almost Famous.) Bowie also performed the song on his Isolar tour of 1976, and one such performance appears on the Live Nassau Coliseum '76 discs in the 2010 Special Edition and Deluxe Edition box set releases of the Station to Station album.
- Pearl Jam covered the song at a concert in Baltimore upon hearing the news of Reed's death.
- Pink Fairies often played the song, as on their reunion live album Live at the Roundhouse 1975.
- Red Hot Chili Peppers performed a brief snippet of the song during their 2013 tour in tribute to Lou Reed who had died a few days earlier
- Robert Plant and Jimmy Page played the song in their Plant and Page tours. Robert Plant's Priory of Brian also did a cover of the song.
- Tom Robinson, released as a live track on Rising Free
- Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
- Richard Hawley has covered the song live.
- Garbage covered the song on their Bleed Like Me tour Las Vegas show, with guitarist Duke Erikson on vocals.
Remixed forms and lyric usage
- 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.
- "The Velvet Underground & Nico – The Velvet Underground". Allmusic. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
- "The Velvet Underground, 'I'm Waiting for the Man' – 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
- "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.
- The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time at Rolling Stone (101-200)
- I'm Waiting for the Man at Rolling Stone
- on YouTube
- "Jimmy Page and the Yardbirds cover the Velvet Underground in 1968". DangerousMinds. 2017-03-02. Retrieved 2017-04-30.
- "Iggy Pop - Nuggets". Discogs. Retrieved 2017-04-30.
- on YouTube
- "Listen to a clip from the Eater version on Amazon". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
- "The Riffs discography". Musicbrainz.org. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
- "Full Albums: The Velvet Underground & Nico » Cover Me". Covermesongs.com. Retrieved 2012-01-11.
- "One for the Money – Sheep on Drugs – Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
- "Do it Dog Style Amazon track listing". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
- "UK Subs discography". Newredarchives.com. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
- "Amazon track listing for Press The Eject And Give Me The Tape". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
-  Archived January 14, 2010, on Wayback Machine.
- "After 23 years, Pearl Jam finally comes to Baltimore". Baltimoresun.com. 28 October 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
-  Archived December 18, 2007, on Wayback Machine.
- "Priory of Brion Songs". Users.globalnet.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-01-11.
- "TRB discography". Tomrobinson.com. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
- "Richard Hawley – I'm Waiting For The Man". Vimeo.com. Retrieved 2 October 2014.