Recording: Rehearsal Recording, The Factory, New York, 1966
Before the Welsh experimental musician John Cale left the Velvet Underground in 1968, every song they made, even the calmer and sweeter ones had a decidedly urgent and raw feel to them. Songs like "Sunday Morning" and "I’ll Be Your Mirror" may seem soft and contemplative at first, but a current of chaos runs beneath it all, often supplied by Cale’s signature electric viola. From their first self titled album to their second White Light/White Heat, this vein only thickened, birthing heavier numbers like its title track and the infamous "Sister Ray," which features Cale on an organ that was rerouted through a distorted guitar amplifier.
John Cale would often push the band’s songs into a tremulous and purposefully awkward place, where it seems like at any moment the music might fall into discord. Their first album without Cale, simply titled The Velvet Underground, formed with Reed solely at the helm and his leadership showed. The songs are centered, soft, contemplative, and comfortable. Even when they rock, they rock in ecstasy rather than agony. This rehearsal demo of "Walk Alone," a song that would never be properly recorded, is the earliest existing evidence of this form of songwriting in Reed, that even in 1966, Reed’s side of the songwriting partnership helped to hold the band to the ground.