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