Lou Reed: “Walk On The Wild Side” (1972)

How cool does a song have to be to make you want to buy a Subaru Forrester? That’s how cool this song is.

Kronomyth 2.1: All the young doo do doo do doo do do doos.

I’ve always seen this as a bisexual bookend to “All The Young Dudes,” maybe because I like books and (despite that, apparently) have a limited number of analogies. In the US, the single version edited out the verse about “giving head,” as that was deemed offensive. Oddly, calling the backup singers “colored girls” wasn’t, although I’m not offended by either. I was offended when the song was used in car commercials, however. If the cars in the ads were trolling for transvestite hookers, I’d have given the advertisers a free pass, but they weren’t. I’m not saying that people don’t troll for hookers in a Subaru Forrester. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s exactly the kind of car that does troll for hookers, but you wouldn’t know it from the commercial.

In the 80s, Lou Reed himself appeared in a Honda Scooter ad set to “Walk on the Wild Side.” That ad didn’t bother me so much because it seemed truer to the original song. Also, I’m not one of those people who distinguishes between a motorcycle and a scooter. What you drive doesn’t say anything about you unless you think it does.

The flip side is “Perfect Day,” one of my favorite tracks from Transformer. This track would have turned out a lot darker without David Bowie’s glam gilding; here, it reminds me of “Life On Mars” with its pleasant piano accompaniment. The last line, “You’re going to reap just what you sow,” is pure magic. Sends chills down my spine every time, just like Radiohead’s “For a moment there…” Coincidence? Maybe that or karma.

Original 7-inch single version

A1. Walk On The Wild Side (Lou Reed) (3:37)
B1. Perfect Day (Lou Reed) (3:42)

7-inch single alternate version/reissue (Germany/Italy)
A1. Walk On The Wild Side (Lou Reed) (3:37 or 4:12, depending)
B1. Vicious (Lou Reed) (2:54)

7-inch extended play single (France)
1. Walk On The Wild Side
2. Sweet Jane
3. Vicious
4. Don’t Talk To Me About Work

The Plastic

Released on 7-inch on November 24, 1972 in the UK (RCA, RCA 2303) and in February 1973 in the US (RCA Victor, 74-0887), Brazil (RCA Victor, 101.4032), Germany (RCA Victor, 7416 284), Italy (RCA Victor, N 1679) and Spain (RCA Victor, 310925) with picture sleeve. Reached #10 on the UK charts and #16 on the US charts (charted on February 17, 1973 for 14 weeks). Also released on promotional 7-inch in 1973 in the US (RCA Victor, 74-0887) with A mono on flip side.

  1. Re-released with “Vicious” on back-to-back hits 7-inch single in 1976 in the US (RCA Gold Standard Series, GB-10162), the UK (RCA, GOLD 523) and France (RCA, 40181).
  2. Re-released on four-track 7-inch EP in 1983 in France (RCA, PB-61202).
  3. Re-issued with “Vicious” on B2B hits 7-inch single in 1986 in the US (Old Gold, OG-9635).
Walk on the Wild Side US single
RCA Victor 74-0887 single

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