It doesn’t take much for headline writers, editorialists, reporters, columnists, sports writers, what have you, to grab the reader’s attention with a catchy phrase. Some phrases have become such favorites that you see them used over and over. But I would bet that in plenty of cases the journalists who make use of them don’t know where they come from. This one, for instance. They probably think it comes from Lou Reed’s song, when it actually comes from the title of Nelson Algren’s novel, A Walk on the Wild Side. The phrase shows up so often that I’ve made a hobby of clipping examples, especially when they illustrate how irrelevant they are to the source. Here are two of the most recent ones:
Another favored phrase, used everywhere from Rolling Stone (where you’d expect it) to The Economist (where you wouldn’t), is the title of the Paul Simon song “Still Crazy After All These Years.” In these cases, I’d say the use of the phrase promotes the song rather more than the subject of the article.