Inspired by the May 14 birthdays of Talking Heads‘ David Byrne, The Coasters/Cadets’ Dub Jones, The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, Raphael Saadiq, Bobby Darin, Cream’s Jack Bruce, The Cult’s Ian Astbury, Shanice and Tom Cochrane.
Tag Archives: The Velvet Underground
Inspired by Cinco de Mayo and the May 5 birthdays of Adele, Monty Python’s Michael Palin, Tammy Wynette, Johnnie Taylor, Echo & the Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch, Craig David, Chris Brown and Blind Willie McTell.
Inspired by the March 2 birthdays of Lou Reed, Wu-Tang Clan’s Method Man, Karen Carpenter, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Jay Osmond, Boogie Down Productions’ Scott La Rock, Missing Persons’ Dale Bozzio, Musical Youth’s Dennis Seaton, UTFO’s Doctor Ice, the Kooks’ Luke Pritchard, and composer Kurt Weill (“Mack the Knife”).
Haroldo Santiago Franceschi Rodriguez Danhakl was born in Puerto Rico in 1946. He grew up in New York and Miami Beach. At a very early age he recognized his attraction to men. Not fitting in and getting beaten up at school made Haroldo decide at age 15 to run away. Hitchhiking up the coast toward New York, Haroldo made a stop in Georgia where his friend Georgette plucked his eyebrows, applied mascara, and helped transform Haroldo into Holly.
In the Big Apple, Holly met Andy Warhol and the people who hung out at Warhol’s Factory, such as Candy Darling, Joe Dallesandro and Jackie Curtis.
The story of Holly and the other Warhol superstars is recounted in Lou Reed’s sole Hot 100 single, “Walk on the Wild Side.” The man born Louis Firbank was part of that scene in the Sixties, as his band, The Velvet Underground, was managed by Warhol. He felt an affinity with the people he sang about – as a teenager Reed’s parents sent him to a mental hospital where he would receive electroshock therapy to help cure him of his homosexual tendencies.
Though not gay himself, though perhaps bisexual, Reed wrote “Walk on the Wild Side” to be, in his words “an outright gay song,” saying it’s “from me to them, but they’re carefully worded so the straights can miss out on the implications and enjoy them without being offended.”
Produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson, “Walk on the Wild Side” reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in April 1973.
Tunes du Jour remembers the late Great Lou Reed today on what would have been his 73rd birthday. Here are twenty of his finest.
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In February 2002 my friend Sophie and I auditioned to be the hosts of a new US television series based on the successful UK show Pop Idol. On American Idol, amateur singers competed against each other and the public voted for the winner.
I’ve never seen American Idol. It’s not because I’m bitter I didn’t get the job. I have a different opinion than many of the show’s viewers as to what constitutes good singing. Being loud and hitting high notes do not necessarily make for great singing. A great singer is expressive, feeling the words they are singing. Aretha Franklin and Adele are two singers who can belt and hit a wide range of notes. They also know when to sing softly or when not to let vocal gymnastics get in the way of the song. They are great singers. Bob Dylan and Tom Waits are also great singers. They own their material. They feel their material. They live their material (more accurately, the personas they put forth for each song lives the material).
Dylan and Waits are also great songwriters. Dylan is the better-known of the two, but as today is Waits’ birthday, I’m going to focus on him. His songs have been recorded by a diverse group of artists, including Elvis Costello, Eagles, The Ramones, Johnny Cash, The Pogues, Solomon Burke, Steve Earle, Marianne Faithfull, The Neville Brothers, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Norah Jones, Bette Midler, Bruce Springsteen and Neko Case, the latter two appearing on today’s playlist with Waits covers. His sole US top forty hit on the Billboard Hot 100 was not as an artist, but as the writer of “Downtown Train,” which Rod Stewart took to the top ten in 1990.
Today’s Tom Waits-inspired playlist kicks off with the singer-songwriter’s version of that one hit. Enjoy!