Campus Flap Emerges Over Lou Reed's Iconic Song

Student group says 'Walk on the Wild Side' is offensive to trans people
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2017 12:11 PM CDT
Campus Flap Emerges Over Lou Reed's Iconic Song
A 2000 photo of Lou Reed.   (AP Photo/Keystone, Monika Zaugg, File)

Lou Reed's seminal 1972 hit "Take a Walk on the Wild Side" is stirring up a little controversy on the campus of a Canadian college. As the Media Research Center reports, the student association at Guelph University apologized online because it included the song in a public playlist. The problem? "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 group wrote in a since-deleted Facebook post. It added that a person unfamiliar with the lyrics included the "transphobic" song out of "ignorance." All of which has left friends and fans of the late Reed saying: What?! "I don't know if Lou would be cracking up about this or crying because it's just too stupid," his producer, Hal Willner, tells 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," he says. At one point in the song, Reed sings about "Holly," based on friend Holly Woodlawn from Andy Warhol's studio. "Hitchhiked her way across the USA," goes the lyric. "Plucked her eyebrows on the way, shaved her legs and then he was a she. She said, 'Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side.'" The MRC notes that someone argued to the student group that the song was celebrating such choices, not condemning them, and that Reed's was one of the first public voices to do so, but the group still felt it was demeaning because it equates being trans with being "on the wild side." (Read more Lou Reed stories.)

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