Friday, September 14, 2018

A Window Above: Walk on the Wild Side

Song: "Walk on the Wild Side"
Writer: Lou Reed
Original Release: November 8, 1972
Album: Transformer



Surely, someone out there in academia has written a master's thesis about this song.  To be sure, there's plenty of material.

To say "Walk on the Wild Side" was ahead of its time lyrically is an absurd understatement.  In 2018, references to oral sex and transgender people don't seem like such a big deal but early '70s mainstream radio had never seen anything like it.  All of the characters mentioned in the song are based on real people, all of them regulars at Andy Warhol's New York studio, The Factory.  Though listeners may have blushed, they still bought the record.  "Walk on the Wild Side" peaked at #16 on the Billboard charts.  Today, it resides comfortably among rock's all-time classics.

There are great stories on the musical side, too.  If you've never seen the documentary Classic Albums: Lou Reed: Transformer, it's well worth your time.  In fact, the entire Classic Albums series is pretty amazing.  My favorite story is the creation of the extraordinary bass line.  Herbie Flowers recorded both the acoustic and electric basses on the same track.  Flowers has admitted in interviews that he did it for purely capitalist motivatons: by playing two instruments, he would be paid twice.  No matter.  The final effect is hypnotizing.

Want to hear all of the songs I have featured in a convenient playlist?

Enjoy: A Window Above

What are you listening to these days?

16 comments:

  1. That documentary sounds interesting. I'm going to look for it.

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    1. They used to be on Netflix. I hope they still are.

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  2. Dear Squid, In 1972 I was working at Art Ellis Sign and Art Supply as art-framer and restorer and often produced silkscreens for the RCAF (Royal Chicano Air Force), attendant to Cesar Chavez's demonstrations for United Farm Workers Union. I think I did it all, including the Gay Rights graphics and Womens' Rights and nearly every public campaign that emerged in that wonderful time. I met the most rational people on a daily basis that I have ever met since. Thanks for this excellent post. What I listen to these days, in my retirement, is everything.

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    1. Sounds like a memorable job during a memorable age, for both you and the world.

      Must confess, I was in utero when this song came out.

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  3. I so enjoy reading your take on the music you listen to.
    @ Geo, Cesar Chavez demonstration for United Farm Workers I remember it well. Lived in California then.

    cheers, parsnip and badger

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  4. I remember this song... Haven't heard it in forever, and I can't imagine where I would have heard it when I was a kid. It wasn't an album my mom had, and they didn't listen to the radio much. Maybe middle school or high school, though. It's the kind of alternative music that would have been really popular at the schools I went to.

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    1. For me, it was probably the classic rock station in DC.

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  5. I remember this from young adult time. Didn't listen to it, really. It was on Sirius recently and the lyrics surprised me. Good words, good music.

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  6. I remember this song. Always liked it :)

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  7. Now that I actually have time to listen to tunes, I lean towards the oldies of the 70s and 80s (I'm a geezer).

    But there's some relatively new stuff out there that has my interest: Bruno Mars is still amazing to me, Shawn Mendes, Harry Styles, Rihanna, Glen Hansard (still), Charlie Puth, Adele, Sam Smith, Pink...I guess I'm a bit "pop" in my listening.

    Re-aquainting myself with blogging after a long absence. Glad to find you here.

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  8. Love hearing the stories behind big songs / recordings. This is definitely one of the more ground-breaking songs out there!

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    1. I always love learning about the creative process, especially for such a masterpiece.

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