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CnoteChris
12-05-2000, 04:54 PM
I can’t be the only one who’s ever wondered about this song, but a quick search of the archives turned up nothing.

What the hell is this song about, anyway?

Specifically, the lines “… looking for soul food and a place to eat. ” and “the colored girls sing- “doot da doot da doot….”

To be honest with you, I’d heard these lines before in that song but never gave it much thought. But today, sitting in traffic, I was struck with how seemingly racist some of the lyrics in that song seem to be.

Take the soul food sentence. Is he saying that soul food is inedible? And ‘colored’ girls? The song isn’t that old.

Is Lou pissed at blacks in this song or is it simply symbolic of something else? I'll assume it's symbolic, but of what?

I know there were other lines that stood out equally as odd, but I can’t remember the specifics.

What’s the dope behind this song?

casdave
12-05-2000, 05:11 PM
I saw an explantion of it once so I can explain a few lines.

Much of it was inspired by the tranvsvestite and homosexual world around in New York at the time and refers to people that Lou Reed met and in a few cases knew quite well.

The chorus lines '... and the coloured girls....' is not intended to be racist, he just couldn't think of a chorus line so he thought about the backing vocalists of many groups and noticed that they often did not have lyrics as such, they were there simply to give the frontline singer a break and to provide in key tuneful rhythm backing.

'Jackie's just speeding away
Thought she was James Dean for a day,
But I guess she had to crash,
Valium whould have helped that best.'

Refers to the practice by tranvestites of taking amphetamines in order to burn off weight and keep a svelte figure but of course you can only do so much before you start having mental problems caused by hallucinations (amphetamine pshychosis) hence the crash. Valium was a way of coming down more easily.

Sugar Plum fairy was a real person.

At the moment I'm a little handicapped in the memory cells have been taken hostage by Samual Smith & Sons - purveyos of fine ales but if I can remember any more when I sober up I'll get back to you.

MovieMogul
12-05-2000, 05:14 PM
The song makes several specific references to the Warhol factory of the late 60s and early 70s. This site might help:

http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Exhibit/5189/317.html

Regarding the stanza in question, the site says:

"During the filming of My Hustler, Warhol and entourage stayed at the Sugar Plum Fairy's house on Fire Island, where he spiked the crew's food with acid. The Sugar Plum Fairy was a friend of Rotten Rita (another Warhol "superstar"), which by imputation implies that he was probably an amphetamine addict. The Apollo Theatre is a famous African-American theatre in Harlem, and the "Apollo" referred to in this verse is almost certainly this theatre. That's all we know about the Sugar Plum Fairy."

Take the soul food sentence. Is he saying that soul food is inedible?

I have no idea how you came to interpret that line that way.

And ‘colored’ girls? The song isn’t that old

No, but he is recapturing an era (the late 60s) when that term was considered pretty inoffensive.

Lamia
12-05-2000, 05:21 PM
Originally posted by casdave


Sugar Plum fairy was a real person.



I can't remember his real name right now (although I want to say Joe Campbell), but he was an ex-boyfriend of Harvey Milk's. Milk was America's first openly gay elected official. I believe Sugar Plum Fairy committed suicide not long after Milk's assassination. I know all of this is covered in The Mayor of Castro Street, I just have to find my copy...

Oh, back to the song, I though the line was "Looking for soul food and a place to sleep."

Ringo
12-05-2000, 05:25 PM
casdave is on target.

In the line “… looking for soul food and a place to eat. ” soul food refers to to the protagonist's quest for whatever sort of stimulation warms a tranny's heart. I believe "...and a place to eat." was added to make sure you got the meaning of soul food. "Eat" may ot may not have had a sexual connotation.

sugaree
12-05-2000, 06:35 PM
And the lyrics go:

[note: full lyrics deleted. -manhattan]

sugaree, in the future, please just post those lyrics necessary to make a point. While we can reprint copyrighted lyrics for "scholarly purposes," that is, to analyze them, we are prohibited from just blasting them out there.

Thanks.

-manhattan

[Edited by manhattan on 12-06-2000 at 07:49 PM]

sugaree
12-05-2000, 06:40 PM
Holly is Holly Woodlawn, Candy was Candy Darling, Little Joe
is Joe Dallesandro, Jackie is Jackie Curtis- drag queens all, except for Joe, the legendary hustler and portrayer of hustlers on film. I never did know who the Sugar Plum Fairy was until now. Thanks, guys!

omni-not
12-05-2000, 06:46 PM
Interesting for the little bit of info at the bottom

http://imv.aau.dk/~jfogde/lyrics/walk.html

omni-not
12-05-2000, 07:02 PM
Berlin

Don't have it in your collection? GET IT!! As dark as it is brilliant. (Listening to it for the zillionth time right now, as a matter of fact). And the recording (on CD at least) is remarkable given the technical means at the time.

[end of slight OT]

CnoteChris
12-05-2000, 08:17 PM
Thanks for the replies.

ArchiveGuy “I have no idea how you came to interpret that line that way.”

Simple. I interpreted the line “Looking for soul food and a place to eat” as, ‘Looking for soul food and then a place to eat’, as if he’s trying to avoid soul food for some reason. I mean, Lou didn't say, "looking for someplace to eat, looking for soul food.", he put in a nonsensical line.

Granted, nit-picky and a bit of a stretch on my part, but he then goes on to say, “And the colored girls sing…”. I mean, come on, I can understand him saying he added words and changed them around to make it ‘flow’ better, but adding ‘and the colored girls go…’, because he couldn’t think of anything better? It seems like a strange coincidence given the other parts of the song.

Maybe I’m reading way to far into this. But I always thought you were suppose to overanalyze this kind of stuff. Read into it until it makes no sense at all. Instead, people are taking his word for it and saying “yeah, alright, why not”

I guess I thought there was more to it.

arguania
05-19-2017, 03:42 PM
“Looking for soul food and a place to eat”
He is talking about getting take out soul food and also figuring out where to eat it

Rick Kitchen
05-19-2017, 03:47 PM
I was with a couple of friends in a cheap hotel in Amsterdam circa 1974 and it seemed like this song was the only thing on the jukebox. Somebody there played it over and over again.

Jack Batty
05-19-2017, 03:56 PM
I thought they brought back manhattan as a moderator there for a second.

ftg
05-19-2017, 04:03 PM
Well, in the 17 years since this thread started a lot has changed on the 'Net. E.g., geocities is gone.

In 2010 a fine documentary (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0960730/?ref_=nm_flmg_arf_4) on Candy Darling came out. It explains the "back room" where she was everyone's darling as Max' Kansas City's back room where the Warhol crowd held court. Etc.

Was she a prostitute? Jeremiah Newton insisted she hadn't been even though playback of his own old audio recordings indicated she was.

And now even Lou is gone.

Duckster
05-19-2017, 04:06 PM
So there are zombie transvestites? Rocky Horror meets Walking Dead, walking on the wild side?

md2000
05-19-2017, 04:19 PM
I was dating a relatively naive teacher in the mid-80's when this came on the car radio. I told her "I can't believe they allowed the words "giving head" on the radio in the 1970's!" Then I had to explain to her what it meant. She taught high school English - she said, "Oh, that's why the class giggled at Robert Frost's poem ... 'giving the horses head'."

(She also put up an art poster of Judy Chicago's "Dinner Party" in her classroom, until someone explained to her what it was about. Those were the days.)

Colibri
05-19-2017, 04:31 PM
Moved from GQ to Cafe Society, a forum that didn't exist when this thread was started 17 years ago.

Colibri
General Questions Moderator

Little_Pig
05-19-2017, 06:09 PM
I always dug the baritone saxophone solo played over the fadeout which was performed by Ronnie Ross (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronnie_Ross). That and the Sonny Rollins (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonny_Rollins#1971.E2.80.932000) sax solo on the Rolling Stones song, Waiting On A Friend, are my favorites in rock.

EinsteinsHund
05-19-2017, 06:34 PM
I always dug the baritone saxophone solo played over the fadeout which was performed by Ronnie Ross (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronnie_Ross). That and the Sonny Rollins (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonny_Rollins#1971.E2.80.932000) sax solo on the Rolling Stones song, Waiting On A Friend, are my favorites in rock.

Wow, I never new that it was Sonny Rollins on Waiting On A Friend, and I love the solo, just like the whole song and of course Walk On The Wild Side.

drad dog
05-19-2017, 07:03 PM
Thanks for the replies.

ArchiveGuy “I have no idea how you came to interpret that line that way.”

Simple. I interpreted the line “Looking for soul food and a place to eat” as, ‘Looking for soul food and then a place to eat’, as if he’s trying to avoid soul food for some reason. I mean, Lou didn't say, "looking for someplace to eat, looking for soul food.", he put in a nonsensical line.

Granted, nit-picky and a bit of a stretch on my part, but he then goes on to say, “And the colored girls sing…”. I mean, come on, I can understand him saying he added words and changed them around to make it ‘flow’ better, but adding ‘and the colored girls go…’, because he couldn’t think of anything better? It seems like a strange coincidence given the other parts of the song.

Maybe I’m reading way to far into this. But I always thought you were suppose to overanalyze this kind of stuff. Read into it until it makes no sense at all. Instead, people are taking his word for it and saying “yeah, alright, why not”

I guess I thought there was more to it.

My interpretation was that it was a misdirection joke: He's going to find african american dick, and then get a meal. Kind of like a musician saying "Hello everyone I'm going to share this little number with you, and then I'm going to sing a song"

"Colored girls" sang on a huge percentage of pop hits back then. By almost everyone. And there are about half a dozen names that appeared constantly in that select group. It was not an obscure or difficult reference in Lou's song, to me.

jayjay
05-20-2017, 12:24 AM
"Colored girls" sang on a huge percentage of pop hits back then. By almost everyone. And there are about half a dozen names that appeared constantly in that select group. It was not an obscure or difficult reference in Lou's song, to me.

Check out the documentary Twenty Feet From Stardom (http://twentyfeetfromstardom.com/), which tells some of the stories of the backup singers of that era.

Mean Mr. Mustard
05-20-2017, 07:00 AM
If the OP (whom I know is long gone) raised his eyebrows over the phrase 'colored girls', I'd be very interested in his reaction to Reed's song "I Wanna Be Black"""I Wanna Be Black (http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/loureed/iwannabeblack.html)" (written six years after 'Wild Side').


mmm

Mean Mr. Mustard
05-20-2017, 07:16 AM
If the OP (whom I know is long gone) raised his eyebrows over the phrase 'colored girls', I'd be very interested in his reaction to Reed's song "I Wanna Be Black" (written six years after 'Wild Side').


mmm

Too late to edit...above link is NSFW (contains offensive lyrics). Reported to mod.

Jack Batty
05-20-2017, 12:12 PM
Too late to edit...above link is NSFW (contains offensive lyrics). Reported to mod.

Sic 'em, manhattan. You are the hall monitor!

Enlightening Meditation
05-22-2017, 11:56 AM
My favorite aspect of this song is the dual bass riffs performed by an acoustic upright bass and an electric bass (1 octave higher). The upright bass cuts through the mix better if one is listening via sound system equipped with a fat woofer for low frequency output and EQ adjusted accordingly.

Darren Garrison
05-23-2017, 11:43 AM
Hey, babe--let's take a walk on the offended (https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2017/05/23/walk-on-the-wild-side-offends-guelph-college-students-lou-reed-friends-incredulous/) side.

Doug K.
05-23-2017, 12:13 PM
My favorite aspect of this song is the dual bass riffs performed by an acoustic upright bass and an electric bass (1 octave higher). The upright bass cuts through the mix better if one is listening via sound system equipped with a fat woofer for low frequency output and EQ adjusted accordingly.

Not an octave higher - a third higher. It's not difficult to play both parts at once on electric bass.

Rick Sanchez
05-23-2017, 12:54 PM
Hey, babe--let's take a walk on the offended (https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2017/05/23/walk-on-the-wild-side-offends-guelph-college-students-lou-reed-friends-incredulous/) side.

College students today are going to be the first generation of kids who are objectively less fun than their parents.

pulykamell
05-23-2017, 01:04 PM
Not an octave higher - a third higher. It's not difficult to play both parts at once on electric bass.

A tenth higher. (But that's an octave and a third, so similar kind of effect, just not as "muddy.")

jayjay
05-23-2017, 01:13 PM
Hey, babe--let's take a walk on the offended (https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2017/05/23/walk-on-the-wild-side-offends-guelph-college-students-lou-reed-friends-incredulous/) side.

Which shows a definite lack of a sense of history. WOTWS was about the first song that got mainstream play that prominently features LBGT people and the LBGT underground subculture of the era, and it's obvious that Reed was fascinated by and sympathetic to that subculture and the people who lived it.

Baron Greenback
05-23-2017, 01:18 PM
Which shows a definite lack of a sense of history. WOTWS was about the first song that got mainstream play that prominently features LBGT people and the LBGT underground subculture of the era, and it's obvious that Reed was fascinated by and sympathetic to that subculture and the people who lived it.

He lived a fair amount of it himself!

jayjay
05-23-2017, 01:33 PM
He lived a fair amount of it himself!

Also true!

Enlightening Meditation
05-23-2017, 07:05 PM
Not an octave higher - a third higher. It's not difficult to play both parts at once on electric bass.Someone is wrong on frequency....either my former bassist bandmate or you. I should do some listening homework.

pulykamell
05-23-2017, 07:31 PM
Someone is wrong on frequency....either my former bassist bandmate or you. I should do some listening homework.

It's both of you. Like I said, it's a tenth. Here it is from the guy who played it. (http://www.notreble.com/buzz/2013/10/28/herbie-flowers-the-story-behind-lou-reeds-walk-on-the-wild-side-bass-line/)

lisiate
05-23-2017, 08:59 PM
I love that it was come up with on the spot by the session musician.

And regardless of what he said I'm sure he totally did it to get double time for his 20 minutes work.

dropzone
05-23-2017, 10:36 PM
Someone is wrong on frequency....either my former bassist bandmate or you. I should do some listening homework.Dear God, there's bassist joke just laying there. Give me the strength to leave it there. Amen.

Um, have a nice day! ;)

WordMan
05-24-2017, 06:03 AM
It's both of you. Like I said, it's a tenth. Here it is from the guy who played it. (http://www.notreble.com/buzz/2013/10/28/herbie-flowers-the-story-behind-lou-reeds-walk-on-the-wild-side-bass-line/)

That was great! Thanks for sharing that clip.

Enlightening Meditation
05-24-2017, 06:42 AM
Someone is wrong on frequency....either my former bassist bandmate or you. I should do some listening homework.

It's both of you. Like I said, it's a tenth. Here it is from the guy who played it. (http://www.notreble.com/buzz/2013/10/28/herbie-flowers-the-story-behind-lou-reeds-walk-on-the-wild-side-bass-line/)There it is straight from the horse's mouth. The electric bass riff is 10 notes (in the key...not chromatic) higher than the upright bass. A 10th is an octave above the 3rd, so a '3rd' difference is correct to an extent if not specifying the octave. Thank you for posting the link.

Dear God, there's bassist joke just laying there. Give me the strength to leave it there. Amen.

Um, have a nice day! Oh, don't get me started. :smack::smack: To be fair, I've met plenty singers, drummers, and guitarists who were knuckleheads.

Little_Pig
05-24-2017, 12:28 PM
Well, it made the front page of the Toronto Star.

The student union at the University of Guelph has gained international attention — much of it negative — for criticizing (https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/05/22/university-student-union-takes-a-walk-on-the-controversial-side-over-lou-reed-song.html) the classic rock song “Walk on the Wild Side” as “transphobic.”

Disillusioned "university" youth.