The Velvet Underground

I'm Waiting For the Man

Song Review by

One of the all-time classic rock songs, Lou Reed's 1966 composition "Waiting for the Man" is also one of the most covered -- a staple of countless punk-era British bands' repertoires, it has also drawn versions from many of Reed's own peers -- David Bowie and the Stooges both cut fascinating takes on the song, while no less than four of Reed's fellow Velvet Underground-ers -- John Cale, Nico, Doug Yule, and Maureen Tucker -- have also seen fit to perform their own distinctive versions. Reed, of course, has kept the song in his live set throughout his solo career. Throughout these myriad convolutions, the song has undergone any number of stylistic changes -- the Velvets themselves were known to transform it into a slow blues, an R&B rocker, or a drawn-out hard rock dirge. Return to the 1966 prototype, however, and almost all of these subsequent convolutions were anticipated by the Velvet Underground's own original version. Over chunky guitar, clunking piano, and jackhammer drums, Reed half-sings, half-intones what he would once describe as a love song about a man and the subway -- although it would probably be more accurate to acknowledge that the subway is simply the man's way of getting to where he really wants to be. Although it would ultimately be displaced by "Sunday Morning," "Waiting for the Man" was originally envisioned as the opening cut on the Velvet Underground's debut album, a position it was far more suited to occupy. In any event, it has taken first place on any number of Velvets compilations, while the group themselves often started their live show with it.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The Velvet Underground & Nico 1967 Polydor 4:39
White Light/White Heat 1968 Polydor / Verve 0:00
The Velvet Underground 1969 Polydor 0:00
Loaded 1970 Warner Bros. 0:00
The Best of the Velvet Underground: Words and Music of Lou Reed 1989 Polydor / Verve 4:45
Retro 1989 BMG / Sony Music Distribution 4:35
What Goes On? 1993 Raven 4:44
Peel Slowly and See 1995 Polydor 9:50
Classic Velvet Underground: The Universal Masters Collection 2000 Polygram / Polydor 4:41
Alterno-Daze 2001
Various Artists
Special Product / MCA
No Image 2001
Various Artists
Special Product / MCA
Pop Art: Underground Sounds from the Warhol Era 2002
Various Artists
WEA International 4:47
As Heard on Radio Soulwax, Pt. 2 2002 PIAS 0:57
The Very Best of the Velvet Underground 2006 Universal / Um3 4:42
The Velvet Underground Story 2006 Polydor / Universal Distribution 4:39
100 Hits: Drive Time 2008
Various Artists
100 Hits 4:40
Dirty Water, Vol. 2: More Birth of Punk Attitude 2011
Various Artists
Year Zero 4:39
Icon 2011 Polydor 4:38
The Essential Lou Reed 2011 Legacy / RCA 4:36
Oh Yes We Can Love: The History of Glam Rock 2013
Various Artists
Universal 4:39
100 Hits: Driving Rock [2013] 2013
Various Artists
Ultimate Collection / Union Square Music 4:39
Greatest Ever! Dad: The Definitive Collection
Various Artists
Union Square Music 4:39