Patti Smith has a penchant for covers. The punk poet has often covered some of her favourite artists but perhaps none are as poignant as this touching performance of the late great Lou Reed’s anthemic ‘Perfect Day’.
In 2007, Smith released her covers album Twelve which saw the artist cover Nirvana, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Jimi Hendrix and a host more. But there wasn’t a spot on the list for her longtime friend and fellow NYC royalty member, Velvet Underground’s Lou Reed.
Reed and Smith shared a keen friendship during their time on the underground scene of New York. The Velvet Underground had provided the free and creative proving ground that Smith found her fame in but she and Reed shared a relationship beyond the music. She told Rolling Stone upon the singer’s death, “Lou was a very special poet—a New York writer in the way that Walt Whitman was a New York poet.”
The Horses singer continued: “One thing I got from Lou, that never went away, was the process of performing live over a beat, improvising poetry, how he moved over three chords for 14 minutes. That was a revelation to me.” It was this simplicity of thought and honest expression that would permeate Reed and Smith’s work.
One such track that this authenticity shines through is on Reed’s ‘Perfect Day’. The defining track is found on the singer’s seminal solo effort Transformer. Produced by David Bowie the album is regarded as some of Reed’s finer works and ‘Perfect Day’ has since become a vulnerable and unifying pop anthem.
It has been rich pickings for covers over the years but Smith’s simple connection and humble performance of the track while on European tour some years ago has always ranked among our favourites.
“I’m sorry, I had to relieve myself,” begins Smith as she returns to the stage in Amsterdam back in 2011. Behind her, the expert band begin the landmark first chords of Reed’s greatest work. The crowd go wild and Smith delivers a sensational rendition of the anthemic number.
Watch Patti Smith perform Lou Reed’s ‘Perfect Day’ below