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Lou Reed: Take A Walk On the Wild Side (Live, Sunday Night 1989)

The Guelph Central Student Association (Ontario, Canada) got some waking up to do after they slightly get the wrong end of the stick.

Lou Reed’s friends dismiss claim that Walk on the Wild Side is transphobic.

Defense came after Canadian student body apologized for ‘hurtful’ lyrics to the trans community after including the 1972 hit on a playlist at a campus event.

Friends of the late Lou Reed responded on Saturday with disbelief to a claim by a Canadian student body that the singer’s 1972 hit Walk on the Wild Side contains transphobic lyrics.

“I don’t know if Lou would be cracking up about this or crying because it’s just too stupid,” the singer’s longtime producer, Hal Willner, told the Guardian. “The song was a love song to all the people he knew and to New York City by a man who supported the community and the city his whole life.”

The Guelph Central Student Association, a group at the University of Guelph in Ontario, apologised for including the song on a playlist at a campus event.

In an apology published to Facebook and subsequently removed, the group said: “We now know the lyrics to this song are hurtful to our friends in the trans community and we’d like to unreservedly apologize for this error in judgement.”

The lyrics in question focus on Reed’s friends from Andy Warhol’s Factory, among them transgender “superstars” Holly Woodlawn and Candy Darling.

“Holly came from Miami, FLA,” Reed sings. “Hitchhiked her way across the USA/ Plucked her eyebrows on the way/ Shaved her legs and then he was a she/ She says, ‘Hey, babe, take a walk on the wild side.’”

The Guelph student group promised to be “more mindful in our music selection during any events we hold” and added: “If there are students or members of the campus community who overheard the song in our playlist and were hurt by its inclusion and you’d like to talk with us about it and how we can do better, we welcome that.”

Attempts to reach the group for comment on Saturday were not immediately successful.

Jenni Muldaur, a friend of Reed who was also an occasional backup singer for him, said the group’s objection was “completely ridiculous”.

“Lou was open about his complete acceptance of all creatures of the night,” she said. “That’s what that song’s about. Everyone doing their thing, taking a walk on the wild side. I can’t imagine how anyone could conceive of that. The album was called Transformer. What do they think it’s about?”

In a Rolling Stone review from the time, writer Nick Tosches described the song as “a laid-back, seedy pullulator … about various New York notables and their ramiform homo adventures, punctuated eerily by the phrases ‘walk on the wild side’ and ‘and the colored girls go ‘toot-ta-doo, toot-ta-doo.’ Great images of hustling, defensive blowjobs and someone shaving his legs while hitchhiking 1,500 miles from Miami to New York that fade into a baritone sax coda.”

Willner, who recently completed a reissue of Reed’s later solo work, said: “This song was how the world first heard about these people. It’s a song about love. What else can you say? The students should be focusing their anger on other stuff and this isn’t it.”

Original article by Edward Helmore for Guardian.

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