When Lou Reed died in 2013 I felt genuine relief. I hoped I would never have to hear the song “Walk on the Wildside” again. Not only is it a terrible song musically, but the lyrics are racist. I have talked to other people who agree with me that each time the part come on about the Colored Girls Singing Do-do-do, do-do, do-do-do or rather it’s “Go” Do-do-do, do-do, do-do-do we all felt really uncomfortable and wished it would go away. Many different popular Bands used a groups of black women as background vocals such as Steely Dan The issue was not their race, but they ability to harmonize. Race should have nothing to do with it. Then there is the gender changing parts of the song which reminded of the music video that used to be played on MTV in which a very large woman (who turns out to be a man) is shaving. She shaves her legs and now he is a she. I can’t even find this music video on You Tube, but it was by a group called The Power Station which was a spinoff of Duran Duran. The song Some Like it Hot featured Caroline Cossey. At the time there were whispers of “Oh, this is really a man,” but it was vague. I was like I want this video to go away. “Some Like it Hot” was another terrible song paired with a terrible video. I could not look the song up in 1985 as it was pre internet. I was not shocked or changed by the song. My dislike had nothing to do with changing genders but both the video and the song meting out punishment to the aesthetic value of music. The song is very in your face. The media decided that we all needed to hear it again and again as some kind of brainwashing experiment for changing societal values and norms. There is no way this song is being played for its musical value, but only for its shock value, which was not shocking at all to me, but boring. There is a Devo Song called “Social Fools” which sums up my attitude. Updated: I have found the Video on YouTube Here
However, I have since learned there is a lot more to Lou Reed then just one repulsive song. “I’m Waiting for the Man” is absolute a fantastic. At first the song seems to be going nowhere with just a pounding beat, but when Lou Reed starts to singing or speaking you can hear the emotional quality of his voice. Lou Reed also reminds me of Jim Carroll’s music. The lyrics could be sung or spoken or a combination of the two. I recall hearing the song in the 80’s “Vicious” also by Lou Reed. The song is from 1973 but has an early punk vibe which was pre Sid Vicious. The song “Vicious” was said to be inspired by Andy Warhol’s suggestion. I did not hear it until the 80’s on various underground and New Wave Radio stations.
Nico and the Velvet Underground are connected to Lou Reed. Nico was an interesting person. In spite of the fact she could not sing well, and none of her songs were hits, she is respected for what she accomplished in her life. Nico was the girlfriend of Door’s singer Jim Morrison at one point. I read they were living together. She would sing in a nightclubs with her commanding presences. I feel more kindly towards Nico then to Lou Reed because her songs were not played at me over and over the way “Walk On The Wild Side” was forced on me for many years by the media. When I think of Nico singing in a nightclub, I think of the Movie Liquid Sky in which one of the supporting characters Adrian sings a song called “My Rhythm Box“. I imagine Nico singing or chanting songs like this in a dark and smokey nightclub to emotionless patrons. The audience is too cool to react and watches politely and mutely. Nico is herself also too cool to show emotions. Take me to that nightclub! I want to go there!