Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Walk on the Wild Side: Issa's Sunday Service, #69

For anyone from (or who has spent lots of time in) the NYC area, today's Sunday Service selection hardly needs an introduction - still, there is the rest of the planet to consider.  Since Wikipedia says it reached #16 on the Billboard charts in 1972 and is #221 in Rolling Stone's "Top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time," maybe I'm wrong about that

Guess those 500 songs must mean 500 "rock songs" cause, well, the Cole Porter and Irving Berlin seem to be missing.

Just saying ...

Lou Reed has told the story that the song originated from a supposed planned musical of the Nelson Algren classic novel of the same name.   A novel about the down and out, the alienated and alone, A Walk on the Wild Side, along with The Man With the Golden Arm, cemented Algren's reputation as an important mid-20th century American novelist. About Walk, Algren noted, "The book asks why lost people sometimes develop into greater human beings than those who have never been lost in their whole lives."  The New Orleans down and out are the direct antecedents for Reed's cast of NYC's disaffected, a group that comprise some of the most memorable ever portrayed in a rock and roll song.

Of course, there is nothing new in the world - one only need look to the Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter to find a slightly earlier versions of Algren and Reed's powerful characters.

Here is the amazing title sequence from the 1961 film adaptation of Walk on the Wild Side.  An exquisite use of black and white (the cat's shadow as it walks in the opening moments is astounding) and visual metaphor.


This week's featured poem comes from Lilliput Review #103, April 1999.   Ray Major passes the word: instructions are optional.

Cooking Rice
If I gave you two handfuls of rice
You would figure it out,
The size of the pot and how much water.
You would not starve
You would learn how to cook rice
And see that for the miracle it is.
Here then, here
Are two handfuls of words
Let us eat together.
Ray Major

though overlooked
the rice field grows...
summer moon
translated by David G. Lanoue 


PS  Get 2 free issues     Get 2 more free issues     Lillie poem archive


Charles Gramlich said...

alas, no way I can load videos today with my net connection.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Too bad, Charles, I think you'd enjoy this one.

Anonymous said...

that was SOME movie!!

and the opening...the opening ... masterful...and yet "works" and that cast WOW!

a lot of people thought that it was trash... but, what do "they" know?

Harvey, Fonda, Capucine, Stanwyck .... WOW!
a great novel translated into a great flick... 5 WOWS and 5 Golden Stars..
for both.

the only music that I know connected with this is the film score...

don't know the Lew Reed piece...


Jim H. said...

A chapter in Brautigan's "Trout Fishing in America" is entitled "The Shipping of Trout Fishing in America Shorty to Nelson Algren." The protagonist and his drunken friends consider cramming the drunken Trout Fishing in America Shorty into a carton in San Francisco and sending him to Algren in Chicago. They have something against Nelson Algren (or Algren's character named Railroad Shorty) and think it might be funny.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Yes, was nominated for best score and best song. Went looking for a version of the song with movie lyrics but no luck yet. But Poppa Chubby covered the Lou Reed version! Trash it was ... here's Variety's 1961 review ...


Had completely forgotten about that, which means its time for a little revisiting to Troutfishing ...

Brian said...

Love the youtube clip! Now my turn to borrow from your posts. Also really looking forward to seeing the movie.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Thanks, Brian. Appreciate the tip of the hat!


Anonymous said...

Man that's a sexy cat. Love the blog and love the Grooveshark playlist by the way.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Thanks, real glad you like the playlist, it's an ongoing project and I'm always looking for suggestions.

Welcome, aboard. I linked you up on the quick blog list. Love what you're doing.