Satellite of Love

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"Satellite of Love"
Single by Lou Reed
from the album Transformer
B-side "Vicious"
Released February 1973
Genre Glam rock, art rock
Length 3:42
Label RCA
Writer(s) Lou Reed
Producer(s) David Bowie, Mick Ronson
Lou Reed singles chronology
"Walk on the Wild Side" / "Perfect Day"
(1972)
"Satellite of Love"
(1973)
"Vicious"
(1973)

"Satellite of Love" is one of Lou Reed's best-known songs from his solo career. It is the second single from his 1972 album Transformer. At the time of its release it achieved minor chart success, though it later became a staple of his concerts and compilation albums.

Background and recording[edit]

The song is about a man who observes a satellite launch on television and contemplates what Reed describes as feelings of "the worst kind of jealousy" about his unfaithful girlfriend.[1] The chorus is:

I watched it for a little while
I love to watch things on TV
Satellite of love
Satellite of love

David Bowie, who produced the album, can be heard providing background vocals, especially at the final chorus. Reed would write later: "He has a melodic sense that's just well above anyone else in rock & roll. Most people could not sing some of his melodies. He can really go for a high note. Take 'Satellite of Love,' on my Transformer album. There's a part at the very end where his voice goes all the way up. It's fabulous."[2]

Often considered a Reed solo song, it was originally recorded by The Velvet Underground. The band played the song at concerts and recorded it during the 1970 sessions for their album Loaded, though like many of the songs recorded during those sessions, it does not appear on the album. The existence of the VU version was largely unknown and even forgotten by the band members themselves until the release of the box set Peel Slowly and See in 1995. It also appears on the 1997 Rhino Records 2-CD version of the Loaded album.

In addition to being more up-tempo, the VU version contains a significant change in the lyrics. The lines:

I've been told that you've been bold
With Harry, Mark, and John
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday to Thursday
With Harry, Mark, and John

were originally recorded as:

I've been told baby you've been bold
With Winkin, Blinkin, and Nod
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday to Thursday
To Winkin, Blinkin, and Nod

On the original lyrics, Reed said, "Jesus. Best left forgotten. Obviously, I didn't want to use real names yet. I probably wanted to make sure I wasn't using a name that really meant something to me."[3]

Morrissey cover[edit]

"Satellite of Love"
Single by Morrissey
Released December 2, 2013
Format Digital download, 7", 12"
Genre Alternative rock
Length 3:46
Label Parlophone
Producer(s) David Millward, Mick Ronson
Morrissey singles chronology
"The Last of the Famous International Playboys"
(2013)
"Satellite of Love"
(2013)
"World Peace Is None of Your Business"
(2014)

Morrissey's live cover of the song was digitally released on December 2, 2013 as a tribute to Reed, following his death in 2013. The song was recorded on November 25, 2011 in at the Chelsea Ballroom of Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, Nevada.[4][5][6] The 7" and 12" vinyl version and a three-track digital version were also released on January 28, 2014.[7] All three versions of the single were supported by additional live tracks, including a rendition of The Smiths song, "Vicar in a Tutu," a cover of Buzzcocks song "You Say You Don't Love Me" and his 1992 song, "You're Gonna Need Someone on Your Side."[7][8] The cover topped on U.S. Billboard Hot Singles Sales chart.[9]

Track listing[edit]

12"
A side
  1. "Satellite of Love (Live)"
  2. "You're Gonna Need Someone on Your Side"
B side
  1. "Vicar in a Tutu (Live)"
  2. "All You Need Is Me (Live)"
7"
A side
  1. "Satellite of Love (Live)"

B side

  1. "You're Gonna Need Someone on Your Side"
  2. "You Say You Don't Love Me (Live)" (Buzzcocks cover)
Digital download
  1. "Satellite of Love (Live)"
  2. "You're Gonna Need Someone on Your Side"
  3. "Mama Lay Softly on the Riverbed (Live)"

Personnel[edit]

  • Morrissey - vocals
  • Gustavo Manzur - piano, backing vocals
  • Solomon Walker - bass
  • Matt Walker - drums
  • Boz Boorer - guitar, mixing
  • Jesse Tobias - guitar
  • David Millward - recording, production
  • Scott Minshall - design
  • Bill Inglot - mastering
  • Dan Hersch - mastering
  • Renaud Monfourny - photography
  • Mick Ronson - production ("You're Gonna Need Someone on Your Side")

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (2014) Peak
position
US Billboard Hot Singles Sales[9] 1

Other cover versions[edit]

Cultural references[edit]

  • The Satellite of Love spaceship is the primary setting of the TV comedy series Mystery Science Theater 3000. The song itself, with lyrics reflecting the characters ("Gypsy, Tom, and Crow" instead of "Harry, Mark, and John", for example), was sung at the end of all live shows featuring the cast.
  • The song is mentioned in the Def Leppard song "Rocket".
  • The Ron & Fez Show closes every show with the song. Sometimes the show's cast and producers will sing along.
  • In Adventureland, Mike Connell's (Ryan Reynolds) claims that he was formerly a musician with Lou Reed are proven false when he periodically demonstrates ignorance of Reed's music, including referring to "Satellite of Love" as "Shine a Light on Love".
  • The song was used in the fourth season of the TV series Gilmore Girls. In the episode "Raincoats and Recipes," the song plays as Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel) loses her virginity to her married ex-boyfriend Dean (Jared Padalecki).
  • The Lou Reed version of the song is played in the 1998 movie Velvet Goldmine, with Ewan McGregor lip-synching the backing vocals.
  • The Austin, Texas shot 2012 film Satellite of Love borrows its name from the Lou Reed song, directed by Will James Moore.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Reed, Lou, interviewed by David Fricke. Peel Slowly and See liner notes, p. 73
  2. ^ Lou Reed. "100 Greatest Artist: David Bowie". Rolling Stone. Consulted on October 3, 2011.
  3. ^ Reed, Lou, interviewed by David Fricke. Peel Slowly and See liner notes, p. 73
  4. ^ McGovern, Kyle (November 11, 2013). "Morrissey Will Orbit Lou Reed's 'Satellite of Love' on Live Single". Spin. Retrieved May 12, 2014. 
  5. ^ Battan, Carrie (November 11, 2013). "Morrissey to Release His Live Version of Lou Reed's "Satellite of Love" as a Single". Pitchfork. Retrieved May 12, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Morrissey to release cover of Lou Reed's 'Satellite of Love'". Fact. November 11, 2013. Retrieved May 12, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Grow, Kory (November 26, 2013). "Morrissey Reveals Full 'Satellite of Love' Single Details". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 12, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Morrissey announces B-sides for 'Satellite Of Love'". NME. November 30, 2013. Retrieved May 12, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b "Hot Singles Sales - February 22, 2014". Billboard. Retrieved 14 April 2014.