Remembering Lou Reed’s joyful performance of ‘Walk On The Wild Side’ at Farm Aid, 1985
We’re dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault to look back at one of the enigmatic Lou Reed’s finest performances. The King of underground cool opens himself up to his whole audience with this show. Let’s revisit Reed’s sensational performance of ‘Walk On The Wild Side’ live from Farm Aid back in 1985.
The concert benefit was to raise money for family farmers in the United States who had been struggling for some time. Organised by Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young, the event was spurred on by Bob Dylan’s comments at Live Aid earlier in 1985.
The freewheelin’ Dylan, after performing at the Global jukebox event, said that he hoped some of the money raised by the 1.9 billion people watching the event would also help American farmers in danger of losing their farms through mortgage debt. From it, Farm Aid was created, a plethora of acts invited to perform live for the cause and a brand new event on the calendar.
The event saw a wealth of musical talent invited to perform. One such invitee was The Velvet Underground hero and alt-pop God, Lou Reed.
Reed had spent much of the previous decade with his head being turned by the glitter and the gutter of glam rock. After a series of genius albums, Transformer being his most notable, the drugs and the debauchery of the seventies had taken its toll on Reed and he’s vivacious creative output was beginning to wane.
He soon became too cantankerous to welcome new fans and his Metal Machine Music alienated critics who had previously applauded almost everything he had done. After marrying British designer Sylvia Morales in 1980, he had cleaned up his ways, polished his act and was ready to connect with the audience once again.
1984 effort New Sensations had been his first charting record of the decade and it gave Reed a new impetus. By 1985, Reed was not only back in the charts but he was back on stage with a smile on his face too. At Farm Aid, Reed performed ‘Doin’ the Things We Want To’, ‘I Love You Suzanne’, ‘New Sensations’ and his iconic outsider anthem, ‘Walk On The Wild Side’. It’ds one of the best performances from Reed’s later career you’ll see.
Any rendition of such a song will always encourage an outpouring of emotion from the audience but there was something different about this performance. Reed was happy as a clam, enjoying every single note of his own song. When a track becomes so synonymous with an artist it can be difficult to keep the song close to the singer’s heart.
Judging by the video below, it seems that in 1985, Reed was once again courting his back catalogue and coaxing it out of hiding. Acknowledging the decline of your edgy rock-star life may be difficult to achieve but the welcoming of your ‘legend’ status should always be enjoyed. That’s exactly what Reed is doing.