In August of 1970, 28-year-old Lou Reed quit the Velvet Underground, moved home to Long Island, New York, and embarked on a fascinating alternate creative path: poetry. Spending months in relative isolation, the musician refashioned himself, publicly vowing to never again play rock and roll. Reed wrote verse and contributed his work to journals and small press publications. “I’m a poet,” he proclaimed from the stage of St. Mark’s Church in March 1971. Though his retirement from music wouldn’t last—only six months later he began recording his debut solo album—Reed’s passionate identification with the written word was solidified, and would last the rest of his life.
Do Angels Need Haircuts? is an extraordinary snapshot of this turning point in Reed’s career. This book, the first to be produced by the Lou Reed Archive, gathers poems, photographs from the era—by Mick Rock, Moe Tucker, and others— as well as images from rare poetry zines. Featuring a new foreword by Anne Waldman, archival notes by Don Fleming, and an afterword by Laurie Anderson, Do Angels Need Haircuts? provides a window to a little-known chapter in the life of one of the most singular and uncompromising voices in American popular culture.