The Big Read Blog (Archive)

Lou Reed Reads "The Raven"

Lou Reed. Image by Timothy Greenfield Sanders used courtesy of Esther Creative Group

Yes, that Lou Reed, the lead singer and songwriter of the Velvet Underground. A few years ago when we were producing the audio guide to The Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, I stumbled upon something surprising. Not only is there an incredible amount of well-respected musicians and actors interested in the work of Poe, but there are several who have adapted and recorded readings of the master of gothic fiction. First, I found Closed on Account of Rabies, a double CD featuring Poe's work performed by artists such as Christopher Walken and Jeff Buckley. And then there's the album that led to the post you're reading right now: Lou Reed's 19th solo album, aptly titled The Raven, which interprets Poe through music. But even before this album came out in 2003, Reed at times seems to have had Poe's work in mind when composing and performing. Take "Venus in Furs" for example. This haunting song from 1967 could have easily been written about our Big Read selection, "The Fall of the House Usher." I remember listening to these lyrics over and over when we were in production.

I am tired, I am weary
I could sleep for a thousand years
A thousand dreams that would awake me
Different colors made of tears

What better way to celebrate Halloween than to listen to the voice of The Velvet Underground read his altered version of Poe's classic, The Raven. [6:40]

[audio:http://bigreadblog.arts.gov/audio/ReedRaven.mp3]

[transcript]

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