1) The characters in ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ are actual persons
One of the great mysteries in the history of censorship – or rather, lack thereof – is how Walk on the Wild Side ever received airplay back in 1972 when it was released. And I mean real airplay, not just being featured in a few obscure DJs’ playlists as to shock the listeners. No, Lou Reed’s single went all the way up to #16 in the US charts and even #10 in the UK ones. It basically is what made Reed a star in the 70s – the lead single off his second album, Transformer, which we all know was his most successful one to date.
“So what’s the big deal?” might the 2016 listener ask. “It’s a song that explicitly talks about things such as transsexuality, drugs and oral sex.” will the 1972 listener respond. “It even features the lyric ‘But she never lost her head/Even when she was giving head’” will he add to accentuate his point. What’s great in retrospect though is to find out that everything Reed is singing about actually happened. All the characters are real persons and all their actions just a few more slices of that artsy weirdness that characterized the Warhol Factory they hanged around at. Holly who plucked her eyebrows and shaved her legs is Holly Woodlawn, a transgender Puerto Rican actress that starred in Warhol movies Trash and Women in Revolt. Candy Darling is the same protagonist as the one from Velvet Underground’s Candy Says, another transgender actress known for starring in those two movies. Little Joe refers to Joe Dallesandro, a sex symbol of the time’s gay subculture and the protagonist in Heat. Joe Campbell is nicknamed Sugar Plum Fairy and his most famous role is in Nude Restaurant. And finally, Jackie Curtis sang, wrote and acted throughout her life; her lipstick, glitter, bright red hair and ripped dressed said to be an influence on glam rock.
2) Oasis’ break-through single was written in 10 minutes
Don’t you love it when the jam that you play to warm-up for recording an actual song ends up being your first classic hit? That’s exactly what happened to Oasis back in 1993 at a recording session. They were originally set to record I Will Believe, but take after take proved to be unsuccessful. They couldn’t capture what they really wanted. Engineer Dave Scott believes the song was simply not right for them, calling it “shoe-gazer shit” when relating the experience. So in lack of ideas and direction, the band remembers a little groove that they got into right before the sessions began. That one sounded more rock ‘n’ roll at least. The groove begins to take shape, with all 5 members getting into it. Satisfied with what they’ve got so far, Noel rushes into the back room to write down the chords and a set of lyrics. He imposes himself to do that within 10 minutes – and succeeds.
The same Dave Scott recalls that the track was not even remixed. What was recorded in that day became Supersonic on that same day. Although later Oasis singles would chart higher than #31, it is no mean feat to achieve that with your very first one. I Will Believe ended up a B-side to Supersonic, 20 years later to be included in the deluxe edition of the single’s home album, Definitely Maybe. And the rest is history – they only got bigger and bigger from that point on.
Oasis only stopped playing Supersonic live the day they broke up; and Noel has over the years cited it as his favorite own composition.
Categories: Stories Behind Classic Songs