Mar 022011

They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!

Rock ‘n’ roll animal turned rock ‘n’ roll survivor, Lou Reed has always tread his own path, never following trends, only setting them. Lead singer and songwriter for one of the most influential bands of all time, The Velvet Underground, Reed’s music inspired both the glam and punk movements. Today, he enjoys the status of poet laureate of modern music.

Heroin in the ’60s, meth in the ’70s, and booze in the ’80s – Reed hasn’t treated his body well through the years. Amazingly, though, he is still with us. To celebrate his 69th birthday today, we have assembled a collection of covers of lesser-known Reed tunes, both solo and with the Velvet Underground. Check them out below.

With a new album, Blood Pressure, a tour, and slots at both SXSW and Coachella, Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince, aka. The Kills, have a busy year ahead of them. Here they present their version of Reed’s liberating “I’m Set Free”, originally on 1969’s The Velvet Underground.

Jenny Lewis, here singing with her band Rilo Kiley, lends her sweet voice to Reed’s equally sweet closer to The Velvet Underground, “After Hours.” Originally a spare arrangement sung by Velvets drummer Maureen Tucker, Rilo Kiley give the track a driving beat while preserving the whimsy of the original.

The Black Crowes give 1970’s “Oh! Sweet Nuthin'” the southern-fried treatment in this live version sung by guitarist Rich Robinson. Who thought the streets of New York and swamps of Georgia could live together in such harmony?

Speaking of surprises, Milla Jovovich delivers the next track, “Satellite of Love” off of 1972’s Transformer. Her version appeared on the soundtrack to the 1990 Wim Wender’s film Million Dollar Hotel and features an all-star backing band that includes Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, Bill Frisell and Jon Hassell.

El Perro Del Mar doesn’t sound like the name of a Swedish one-woman band, but the truth is stranger than fiction. Here she presents her cover of “Heavenly Arms,” originally on the 1982 masterpiece The Blue Mask. The “Sylvia” that features prominently in the track was Reed’s wife at the time.

Check out more Lou Reed on his website.

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