Lou Reed’s 1972 hit “Walk on the Wild Side” feels a bit like a risqué movie. Though these days the plot would barely raise a plucked eyebrow, in the waning months of the Nixon administration it explored all kinds of cultural taboos. Reed tells the stories of several crossdressing young lads as they turn tricks, take Valium, and give head.
Suzanne Vega released a cover of “Walk on the Wild Side” on her new album An Evening of New York Songs and Stories. The live album features Vega singing songs about the Big Apple. It seems like an ideal topic for Vega, given that she helped put the Upper West Side eatery “Tom’s Diner” on the map years before the Seinfeld gang made it their locale of choice.
Performing in New York’s Café Carlyle in 2019, Vega gives the song the feel of a spoken word performance. She starts out slow, mainly backed by the guitar then adds in bits of piano and other instruments as the tune progresses. About two-thirds of the way through, guitarist Gerry Leonard throws in a bluesy solo. A solid take on a classic, even if the subject manner is not nearly as edgy as it once was.
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