The Velvet Underground leader Lou Reed wrote this song as a surreal look at the life of a rock star. Reed included the song in his live sets; it appeared on his album Live at Max's Kansas City
in 1972 and on another live album, Rock n Roll Animal
, in 1974. The version on Rock n Roll Animal
, which was recorded at a New York show on December 21, 1973, features the twin-guitar work of Steven Hunter and Dick Wagner, who Reed employed to rock out his songs on tour.
Released as a single, this live version of the song heralded a new sound for Reed, one he quickly abandoned when he fired Hunter and Wagner at the end of the tour and disavowed the album. Reed released his intentionally awful Metal Machine Music
album the following year, while his bygone guitarists joined Alice Cooper on tour, with Wagner becoming Cooper's songwriting partner. In our interview with Dick Wagner
, he explained: "He claims that he didn't like the Rock n' Roll Animal
album, but at the time he sure loved it. A lot of the songs were from the Velvet Underground days, and I wanted to take them out of that placid performance of the songs and make it more for the concert stage and the stadiums, so I did some majestic arranging with some of the songs - that's what I do. Within the context of the band and how to deliver the songs, it really worked. I guess Lou doesn't really like it that much, but that's kind of a lie."