7. "Sweet Jane"
One of the most popular rock anthems of all time, its unmistakable riff and relentless refrain also makes it Reed's most obviously accessible song. Culled from the Velvet's acclaimed album Loaded, it's since been reprised on every live Velvets and Reed album since. Cover versions by Mott the Hoople, Lone Justice, and the Cowboy Junkies helped affirm the song's continuing popularity. Your favorite local cover band likely takes a whack at it too.
Although often overlooked, this early offering from Reed's solo catalog was cinematic in scope, a dark, disturbing, and stark portrait of postwar Berlin in all its decadent glory. In true Reed fashion, it exploited a familiar theme: the tale of two addicts consumed by love and their own self-destruction. A fascinating work, it proved to be one of Reed's most fully realized efforts ever, thanks to its rich arrangements and an all-star list of topnotch musical contributors -- producer Bob Ezrin, Steve Winwood, Jack Bruce, Steve Hunter, Tony Levin, and the Brecker Brothers among them.
5. "Walk on the Wild Side"
The undeniable apex of Reed's commercial success, even a hit song failed to hush the outcry of some who thought the "colored girls" reference in the chorus was offensive and degrading. Each of the verses name-drops a real life character from the Velvet's tenure in Warhol's Factory scene, Candy Darling, Holly Woodlawn, and the "Sugar Plum Fairy" among them. The jazzy arrangements and cool groove make the song irresistible and, for most people, ensure it remains Reed's signature song.