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Lou Reed song 'Take a Walk on the Wild Side' accused of including transphobic lyrics by Canadian student group

Friends of the late artist have reacted with disbelief

Roisin O'Connor
Monday 22 May 2017 09:17 BST
Lou Reed in London in 1972
Lou Reed in London in 1972 (Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Friends and collaborators of the late Lou Reed have reacted with utter disbelief after a student body claimed that his 1972 hit 'Walk on the Wild Side' contained transphobic lyrics.

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

The statement has since been deleted from Facebook but was archived and reported on by MRCTV.

"It’s come to our attention that the playlist we had on during bus pass distribution on Thursday contained a song with transphobic lyrics (Lou Reed, 'Take a Walk on the Wild Side')," the statement read.

"We now know the lyrics to this song are hurtful to our friends in the trans community and we’d like to unreservedly apologise for this error in judgement.

The group took it upon themselves to apologise for playing the song, despite reports that no complaints were made.

They added that the lyrics appeared to be “problematic” because they “dehumanise and fetish” transgender people by suggesting they are “wild”.

“While we acknowledge that the song was written with certain purpose and intention, we would also emphasise that media is not always consumed in the ways that it was intended,” they concluded.

Jenni Muldaur, a friend of Reed, said the group's issue with the song was "completely ridiculous".

"Lou was open about his complete acceptance of all creatures of the night,” she told the Guardian.

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?"

Hal Wilner, Reed's longtime producer, added: "I don't know if Lou would be cracking up at this or crying because it's just too stupid. 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."

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In the track, Reed sings: "Holly came from Miami, FLA/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 lyrics were written about Reed's friends from Andy Warhol's Factory, including the iconic trans actresses Holly Woodlawn, and Candy Darling.

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