Lou Reed: Walk On The Wild Side

Lou Reed – Walk On The Wild Side

Santoso (2012) Reed had been playing with “Wild Side” over a year before he recorded it; he had been asked to score a stage show of the 1956 novel by Nelson Algren of the same name. The play never happened, but Reed rewrote the original lyrics and came up with the song for which he is most likely to be remembered. (Santoso 2012)

The bass line to this song has been sampled endlessly, and used in some of the most well known modern music/songs to date. The song has a simple structure and is very catchy due to the simple bass line. The bass line is very simple although without it I believe the song would feel incomplete and unfinished. It fits perfectly to the song. The lyrics “Take a walk on the wild side” are contradictive to the relaxing melody and tone of the song. The song is relaxing and soft and the lyrics are talking about being wild and taking a walk on the wild side. The saxophone solo at the end of this piece is what completes it. I believe personally it is one of the most perfectly inserted solos of all time.

The girl mentioned in the opening lyrics of the song (Holly Woodlawn) sadly passed away on the 6th December 2015, which makes this song all the more meaningful.

The bass line actually consisted of 2 bassists. It started of with the acoustic bass (the double bass) and then the bass line was over dubbed with an electric bass. The drums were played with sticks to begin with and sound a little like a march.


We haven’t done much practical work on this track although it would be very engaging to do so. Many modern day songs use the bass line from this song and it is interesting to see which songs and how they have manipulated it. Researching this song has made me realise how much music is original, compared to sampled and revamped. This song is very well written and was very interesting to research.


Santoso, A. (2012). The Story behind Lou Reeds “Walk On The Wild Side. Available: http://www.neatorama.com/2012/09/17/The-Story-Behind-Lou-Reeds-Walk-on-the-Wild-Side/. Last accessed 6th jan 2016.


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