THE 1000 BEST SONGS IN THE WORLD EVER.
165-Velvet Underground-I’m Waiting for the Man.
1966-It has never charted in the UK.
Best Bit-At 3.41. On which ever day that you wait for the man, be sure that it will never be a ‘Perfect Day.’
The Velvet Underground (see also best songs 401) were formed in New York City, New York, United States, in 1964, by Lou Reed, (1942-2013) (see also best songs 131 and 58) John Cale, (see also best songs 219) Sterling Morrison, (1942-1995) and Angus MacLise, (1938-1979) who was replaced by Moe Tucker in 1965. They took their name from a paperback book published in 1963 by the journalist Michael Leigh called ‘The Velvet Underground.’
‘I’m Waiting for the Man’ was first released on the Velvet Underground’s debut Album ‘The Velvet Underground & Nico’ from March 1967, and was written by Lou Reed. The production credit for the song is stated as Andy Warhol, (1928-1987) but although the band acknowledged Warhol for his insight, and financial backing, it was in fact the band themselves, and the legendary music producer Tom Wilson (1931-1978) who produced all of the tracks on that debut Album. Wilson (see also best songs 358-103-96 and 7) who was one of the most important producers of the 1960’s, and is considered by many to have turned around the careers of both Bob Dylan, and Simon & Garfunkel, by adding ‘Rock Music’ to their ‘Folk Music’ sound.
‘I’m Waiting for the Man’ is about Lou Reed’s true life experience of being addicted to drugs. The lyrics tell the story of Reed waiting on a street corner in Harlem, near the intersection of Lexington Avenue and 125th Street in New York City, and purchasing $26 worth of Heroin, (equivalent to $234 in 2022) the lyrics are sung from the point of view of the purchaser who has travelled to Harlem from another part of the city. The ‘man’ in the title is the drug dealer, and Lou Reed has said,’Everything about that song holds true, except the price.’
Although ‘I’m Waiting for the Man,’ and it’s parent Album ‘The Velvet Underground & Nico,’ only achieved a cult following initially, it has become in subsequent years to be regarded as one of the most important Albums of all time, for it’s influence on other artists, and for the development of Rock Music in general. The Album was a big influence on a young David Bowie, (1947-2016) who would play ‘I’m Waiting for the Man’ live many times over the years at his concerts. Another artist who was heavily influenced was Jimmy Page who has said,’I’m pretty certain we (the Yardbirds) were the first people to cover the Velvet Underground.’
‘Here he comes, he’s all dressed in black, PR shoes and a big straw hat. He’s never early, he’s always late, first thing you learn is you always gotta wait. I’m waiting for my man.’