Walk on the Wild Side (Lou Reed song)

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"Walk on the Wild Side"
Single by Lou Reed
from the album Transformer
B-side "Perfect Day"
Released November 8, 1972
Format Single
Recorded July 1972, Trident Studios, London
Genre Glam rock
Length 4:12 (Album version)
3:37 (Single edit)
Label RCA
Writer(s) Lou Reed
Producer(s) David Bowie, Mick Ronson
Lou Reed singles chronology
"Walk on the Wild Side"
(1972)
"Satellite Of Love"
(1973)

"Walk on the Wild Side" is a Lou Reed song from his 1972 second solo album Transformer. It was produced by David Bowie. The song received wide radio coverage, despite its touching on taboo topics such as transsexuality, drugs, male prostitution and oral sex. In the United States, RCA released the single using an edited version of the song without the reference to oral sex.

The lyrics, describing a series of individuals and their journeys to New York City, refer to several of the regular "superstars" at Andy Warhol's New York studio, The Factory, namely Holly Woodlawn, Candy Darling, Joe Dallesandro, Jackie Curtis and Joe Campbell (referred to in the song by his nickname Sugar Plum Fairy). Candy Darling was also the subject of Reed's earlier song for The Velvet Underground, "Candy Says".

Musicians[edit]

The baritone saxophone solo played over the fadeout of the song is performed by Ronnie Ross, who had taught David Bowie to play the saxophone during Bowie's childhood.

The backing vocals are sung by Thunderthighs, a girl group that included founder Dari Lallou together with Karen Friedman, Jacki Campbell and Casey Synge.

The upright bass and bass guitar are both played by Herbie Flowers.

The single peaked at #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles charts in early 1973.[1] After the announcement of Reed's death in October 2013, both the song and the Transformer album re-charted via iTunes.[2]

Musical elements[edit]

Like many of Reed's songs, "Walk On The Wild Side" is based on a plagal cadence, alternating from C to F. The F is played as a sixth chord. The pre-chorus introduces the major second, D Major, although in some live performances this was changed to D minor, resulting in a completely diatonic song.[3]

The song is also noted for its twin interlocking bass lines played by Herbie Flowers on double bass and overdubbed fretless bass guitar. In an interview on BBC Radio 4 (Playing Second Fiddle, aired July 2005), Flowers claimed that the reason he came up with the twin bass line was that as a session musician he would be paid double for playing two instruments on the same track.

Inspiration[edit]

In the 2001 documentary Classic Albums: Lou Reed: Transformer, Reed says that it was Nelson Algren's 1956 novel, A Walk on the Wild Side, that was the launching point for the song, even though, as it grew, the song became inhabited by characters from his own life. As with several other Reed songs from the 1970s, the title may also be an allusion to an earlier song, in this case Mack David and Elmer Bernstein's song of the same name, the Academy Award-nominated title song of the 1962 film based on Algren's novel.[citation needed] During his performance of the song on his 1978 Live: Take No Prisoners album, Reed humorously explains the song's development from a request that he wrote the music for the never completed musical version of Algren's novel.

Covers and references[edit]

Underground cabaret performers from Stockholm do Walk on the Wild Side on tour in New York in 2011.

Charts and certifications[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits: Eighth Edition. Record Research. p. 523. 
  2. ^ http://www.nme.com/news/lou-reed/73473
  3. ^ "Lou Reed - Walk On The Wild Side (ver 3) Chords". Bigchords.com. Retrieved 2012-11-16. 
  4. ^ Beatsystem - Walk On The Wild Side
  5. ^ Steve and Abe's Record Reviews
  6. ^ Musical Diversity
  7. ^ Adams, Gregory (September 7, 2012). "Flowers Of Hell Reveal Odes Details". Exclaim!. Retrieved September 9, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch's Wildside sample of Lou Reed's Walk on the Wild Side". WhoSampled. 2013-04-30. Retrieved 2013-05-04. 
  9. ^ "A Tribe Called Quest's Can I Kick It? sample of Lou Reed's Walk on the Wild Side". WhoSampled. Retrieved 2013-05-04. 
  10. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWDQAxpFFKM
  11. ^ "Lou Reed – Walk on the Wild Side – Austriancharts.at" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
  12. ^ "Lescharts.com – Lou Reed – Walk on the Wild Side" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
  13. ^ "Lou Reed – Walk on the Wild Side". Officialcharts.de. GfK Entertainment. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
  14. ^ "Lou Reed Album & Song Chart History" Japan Hot 100 for Lou Reed. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
  15. ^ "Archivio - Top Digital Download - Classifica settimanale WK 44 (dal 28-10-2013 al 03-11-2013)" (in Italian). Federation of the Italian Music Industry. Archived from the original on December 12, 2013. Retrieved July 4, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Lou Reed – Walk on the Wild Side" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
  17. ^ "Spanishcharts.com – Lou Reed – Walk on the Wild Side" Canciones Top 50. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
  18. ^ "Lou Reed – Walk on the Wild Side – swisscharts.com". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
  19. ^ "Archive Chart" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
  20. ^ "Lou Reed Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot 100 for Lou Reed. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
  21. ^ "Lou Reed Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot Rock Songs for Lou Reed. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
  22. ^ "Italian single certifications – Lou Reed – Walk on the Wild Side" (in Italian). Federation of the Italian Music Industry. Retrieved July 4, 2014.  Select Online in the field Scegli la sezione. Select Week -- and Year ----. Enter Lou Reed in the field Artista. Click Avvia la ricerca

External links[edit]