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.

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. If the cars in the ads were trolling for transvestite hookers, I’d have given the advertisers a free pass, but they weren’t.) The flip side is “Perfect Day,” one of my favorite tracks from Transformer. This track would have turned out a lot darker without 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 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 in November 1972 in the UK (RCA, RCA 2303) and in February 1973 in the US (RCA Victor, 74-0887), 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. Re-released on 7-inch in 1976 in the US (RCA Gold Standard Series, GB-10162), the UK (RCA, GOLD 523), France (RCA, 40181) and in 1986 in the US (Old Gold, OG-9635) with “Vicious” on flip side. Re-released on four-track 7-inch EP in 1983 in France (RCA, PB-61202).

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