Under Cover: Morrissey Wishes on Lou Reed’s ‘Satellite of Love’
When Lou Reed passed away last year, the tributes and accolades came flying fast and furious, strong and sincere. It’s no exaggeration to say that the man and his music touched the lives of countless listeners. One such soul was Steven Patrick Morrissey. As singer and poet laureate of the Smiths, Morrissey’s wordplay was always front and center, and Reed’s words — also front and center — held a special place for him.
“No words to express the sadness at the death of Lou Reed,” Morrissey wrote following his passing. “He had been there all of my life. He will always be pressed to my heart. Thank God for those, like Lou, who move within their own laws, otherwise imagine how dull the world would be.”
Morrissey took his tribute a step further by recording a beautiful version of Reed’s 1972 classic ‘Satellite of Love’ as a single.The song seems custom-made for Morrissey; its drama and mood suit him perfectly.
His rendition remains true to the sound and vision of the original, but it still ends up adapting some singular Morrissey touches. For example, the original line “I love to watch TV” becomes “I cannot stand the TV.” We’ll allow him the poetic license here, and we’re willing to bet Reed would have chuckled over the alteration.
Reed’s 1972 album ‘Transformer’ was a turning point for the artist, when he moved from underground hero to Top 40 star with the classic song ‘Walk on the Wild Side.’ The entire album remains one of Reed’s all-time best. It’s also one of the finest works of the era.
‘Satellite of Love’ may be Reed’s most beautiful solo song. Both lyrically and musically, the song opens the door to a different world. The stellar production, by David Bowie and Mick Ronson, gives the track (and the entire album, for that matter) a perfect sort of glow.
‘Satellite’ actually dates back to the last days of the Velvet Underground, having been recorded in demo form for the ‘Loaded’ sessions in 1970. The song was shelved until Reed brought it back to life for ‘Transformer.’ The original demo was released years later on a deluxe edition of ‘Loaded.’