While promoting his new solo album Serpentine Prison, Matt Berninger performed a rowdy cover of the Velvet Underground’s “I’m Waiting for the Man” as part of his Tonight Show set. Now Berninger has released a studio version of the track, to appear on an upcoming Velvets covers compilation, I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to The Velvet Underground & Nico.
Just like his Tonight Show version, Berninger takes a more far-out approach to Lou Reed’s frenetic depiction of a heroin addict. Instead of banging piano keys, we get steady, stadium-rock drums combined with the sort of melancholic guitar you’d expect to find all over Berninger and the National’s work.
Originally conceived of in 2017, the I’ll Be Your Mirror tribute album also features a cover of “Run Run Run” by Kurt Vile and the Violators, released earlier this month. Other contributors include Michael Stipe, Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen, St. Vincent and Thomas Bartlett, King Princess, Courtney Barnett, Iggy Pop and Matt Sweeney, and more. It was executive-produced by the late Hal Willner and marks the last record Lou Reed’s old friend and producer worked on before his his death in 2020.
Berninger released Serpentine Prison last October, and released I Am Easy to Find with the National in 2019.