Lou Reed - "Walk on the wild side"

Reed recorded this 2 years after leaving The Velvet Underground, a band that was very influential, but not commercially successful. This was Reed's second solo album. His first flopped, and for a while it looked like his music career was over. David Bowie produced the album.

This is about transvestites who come to New York City and become prostitutes. "Take a walk on the wild side" is what they say to potential customers. Each verse introduces a new character. There is Holly, Candy, Little Joe, Sugar Plum Fairy, and Jackie. The characters that are all cronies of the infamous Andy Warhol Factory, as was Lou. "Little Joe" refers to Joe Dallesandero, who was also one of Andy's kids in the factory. He was in several films by Warhol. "Holly," "Candy," and "Jackie" are based on Holly Woodlawn, Candy Darling, and Jackie Curtis. They are all real drag queens who appeared in Warhol's 1972 movie Women In Revolt. Woodlawn also appeared in Warhol's 1970 movie Trash, and Curtis was in Warhol's 1968 movie Flesh. Reed: "I always thought it would be kind of fun to introduce people to characters they maybe hadn't met before, or hadn't wanted to meet."
Reed struggled with his sexuality for most of his life. His parents even tried to "cure" his homosexuality.This came out at a time when audiences were intrigued by cross-dressing and homosexuality in music. "Glam Rock," where the performers wore feminine clothes, was big, and artists like Bowie and Elton John were attracting fans both gay and straight.
This was not banned by the notoriously conservative BBC or by many US radio stations because censors did not understand phrases like "giving head."

The sax solo at the end was played by Ronnie Ross, a Jazz musician who lived near Bowie in England. When Bowie was 12 years old, he wanted to learn the saxophone and begged Ross to give him lessons, which he eventually did. When they needed a sax player for this, Bowie made sure Ross was booked for the session, but didn't tell him he'd be there. Ross nailed the solo in one take and Bowie showed up to surprise his old friend.
The famous bass line was played by a session musician named Herbie Flowers. He was paid 17 Pounds for his work.