Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Wildside Walkers

In an age of RuPaul's Drag Race, the prurient reporting of Lou Reed's Walk on the Wild Side may seem anachronistically tame. WotWS's style of chanson verité may feature enough grit to pave any wayward soul's road to hell when compared to the relative sanitized fluff of Drag Race. One could argue that both Lou Reed and RuPaul are playing up the subject matter for its sniggers. That aside, WotWS does have the distinction of being the only song to ever reach #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the line "she didn't lose her head even when she was giving head." This may point either to David Bowie's (and Mick Ronson's) great production (according to Wiki, the sax solo was played by the guy who taught Bowie to play) or the fact that people generally pay little attention to the lyrics.*

Walk on the Wild Side's descriptions of some of Andy Warhol's legendary "superstars" was a story apparently worthy of a BBC doc. (That's the amazing Candy Darling nee Jimmy Slatterly [1944 - 1974] shown above.)  According to the players consulted in the video, Lou Reed's version, which seems to revel in the tragedy, is mostly accurate. Part one of the six parter can be seen below. The remaining segments should be easily linked at the video's end. If not, you can find it on YouTube.

Walk on the Wild Side in a 1973 version from Lou Reed Live:

The doc is also entitled Walk on the Wild Side:

* Two cases in point: Ramones's Blitzkrieg Bop, a song of alleged "vague" meaning which clearly makes Nazi death camp references, was used in Diet Pepsi and iPod ads as well as being a popular sing along at sporting events; Brown Sugar, which is about the rape and abuse visited on female slaves by their white masters, was used to hawk Diet Pepsi and Kahlua.

And one more thing: You want to know who among us are the truest of the brass-balled cultural warriors of the human race? The transgendered (and the whole LGBT lot for that matter), whose very character seems to threaten the fabric of the priggish reactionary order. Props to y'all.

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