Perfect Day (Lou Reed song)
|Single by Lou Reed|
|from the album Transformer|
|A-side||"Walk on the Wild Side"|
|Released||17 November 1972|
|Recorded||31 August 1972 at Trident Studios, London|
|Lou Reed singles chronology|
"Perfect Day" is a song written by Lou Reed in 1972, originally featured on Transformer, Reed's second post-Velvet Underground solo album, and as the B-side of his major hit, "Walk on the Wild Side". Its fame was given a boost in the 1990s when it was featured in the 1996 film Trainspotting, and after a star-studded version was released as a BBC charity single in 1997, that became the UK's number one single for three weeks. Reed re-recorded the song for his 2003 album The Raven.
- 1 Recording and composition
- 2 In other media
- 3 Personnel
- 4 BBC corporate film and charity release
- 5 Duran Duran version
- 6 Susan Boyle version
- 7 Vatican tweet
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Recording and composition
The song begins in its verse, which is a progression of major triads in descending perfect fifths, starting however on a minor triad. The song then explodes into the chorus, which is written in the parallel major key to the verse.
The song has a sombre vocal delivery and slow, piano-based instrumental backing balancing tones of sweet nostalgia ("it's such a perfect day, I'm glad I spent it with you"). It was written after Reed and his then fiancée (later his first wife), Bettye Kronstad, spent a day in Central Park.
The song's lyrics are often considered to suggest simple, conventional romantic devotion, possibly alluding to Reed's relationship with Bettye Kronstad and Reed's own conflicts with his sexuality, drug use, and ego.
Some commentators have further seen the lyrical subtext as displaying Reed's romanticized attitude towards a period of his own addiction to heroin (especially the sinister closing line, "You're going to reap just what you sow"); this popular understanding of the song as an ode to addiction led to its inclusion in the soundtrack for Trainspotting, a film about the lives of heroin addicts.
In other media
"Perfect Day" appeared in a television advertisement for PlayStation 4, where two people in various video game-related genres are shown singing the song. The advertisement debuted on North American television two weeks before Reed's death in October 2013.
- Lou Reed - vocals
- Mick Ronson - piano, string arrangements
- David Bowie - keyboards
- Trevor Bolder: trumpet
- Herbie Flowers: tuba
- Klaus Voormann - bass
- John Halsey - drums
BBC corporate film and charity release
|Single by Various artists|
|Released||November 17, 1997|
|Producer(s)||The Music Sculptors, Mark Sayer-Wade & Tolga Kashif & Simon Hanhart|
In 1997, a version of the song was showcased by the BBC in a lengthy corporate promotion of its diverse music coverage which was broadcast on BBC channels and in cinemas. It featured Lou Reed himself and other major artists in what the Financial Times described as "an astonishing line-up of world class performers". In reference to the licence fee, the film ends with the message "Whatever your musical taste, it is catered for by BBC Radio and Television. This is only possible thanks to the unique way the BBC is paid for by you. BBC. You make it what it is." This message appears over the repeated words "You're going to reap just what you sow" which The Guardian described as "a none too subtle message: keep writing the cheque." In response to accusations from commercial competitors that the corporation had wasted vast sums on the film it was revealed that each artist received a "token" £250 because of their belief in the BBC.
Prompted by huge public demand the track was released on November 17, 1997 as a charity single for Children in Need, and Reed said "I have never been more impressed with a performance of one of my songs." It was the UK's number one single for three weeks, in two separate spells. The record contributed £2,125,000 to the charity's highest fundraising total in six years, and by November 2012 has sold 1.55 million copies. The release featured two additional versions of the song: one entirely sung by female performers, one by male performers. The BBC also produced a Christmas version of the accompanying music video.
In Ireland, the song was also a huge success, remaining at number one for seven weeks, and becoming that year's Christmas number one.
Performers in order of appearance; parentheses indicate mute appearance, and dividers indicate verses/sections.
- Heather Small (from M People)
- Emmylou Harris
- Tammy Wynette
- Shane MacGowan
- (Sheona White) (tenor horn player)
- Ian Broudie (from The Lightning Seeds)
- Dr. John
- Evan Dando (from The Lemonheads)
- Emmylou Harris
- Brett Anderson (from Suede)
- Visual Ministry Choir
- Joan Armatrading
- Laurie Anderson
- Heather Small
- Tom Jones
- Heather Small
- Lou Reed
Following the success of the "Perfect Day" music video, the BBC produced three further similar campaigns. The first, Future Generations, in December 1998, did a similar multi-celebrity montage with favourite BBC children's programmes. The second, called Shaggy Dog Story, featured various comedians and comic actors telling a long-winded shaggy dog story, with each one sharing a line or phrase. A second, shorter shaggy dog story, entitled Mammals vs. Insects, was also broadcast on 4 January 2000. Seventeen years after "Perfect Day"'s release, the BBC produced a campaign for their new music division where 27 musicians (labelled "The Impossible Orchestra") covered the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows". The only person to appear in both campaigns is Sir Elton John.
The single inspired Sony Music to release a various artists compilation album, Perfect Day, in early 1998. It reached number 7 in the UK Compilation Chart. It featured Reed's original version of the song instead of the Various Artists version.
Music Live 2000
A BBC live television event in 2000, which consisted of music programs around the clock, ended in another round-robin performance of "Perfect Day". Although watched by millions, the recording of the show that was released as a single was not a chart success, reaching only number 69 in mid-June 2000.
Duran Duran version
|Single by Duran Duran|
|from the album Thank You|
|B-side||"The Needle and the Damage Done", "Come Up and See Me (Make Me Smile)"|
|Released||March 13, 1995|
|Genre||Pop rock, alternative rock, electronic rock|
|Label||EMI, Capitol – DD 20|
|Duran Duran singles chronology|
The song featured a rare appearance by Duran Duran's first drummer Roger Taylor, who left the band at the height of their fame in 1986, and had had little contact with them in the ten years afterward. He joined Duran Duran in the studio to record "Perfect Day", "Watching the Detectives" and "Jeepster" for the covers album. Taylor also appeared in the video and in a promotional appearance on Top of the Pops.
The music video was filmed in February 1995 by director Nick Egan, and first aired in March. It featured the band with their instruments inside the box of a sound stage lined with vivid red walls, and the video is intensely saturated, even overexposed at times. Clips of a melancholy Simon Le Bon singing, and other band members performing or reacting to the lyrics, are interspersed with snippets of surreal images. The camera occasionally pulls back to show the entire stage structure and its supports, increasing the sense of unreality.
The single was released in several versions, including numerous different remixes of the title track and other Duran Duran songs. In addition to the single and the Thank You album, the song also appeared in Duran Duran's Singles Box Set 1986–1995, released in 2004.
On Duran Duran's episode of Behind the Music, Reed admitted that their version might be better than his original version, saying, "I think Duran Duran's version of 'Perfect Day' is possibly the best rerecording of a song of mine. I'm not sure that I sang it as well as Simon [Le Bon] sang it. I think he sings it better than I [did]. If I could've sung it the way he did, I would've. It wasn't from lack of trying. They recorded it the way I meant [to record] it, which is a real big thrill for me, so thank you, Duran Duran."
The song reached number 28 on the UK Singles Chart.
B-sides, bonus tracks and remixes
The UK release included a 2-CD set ("Part 1" and "Part 2"), containing different mixes and bonus tracks, sold both separately and together. A limited edition release included a scratch and sniff ice cream cone cover.
The bonus tracks on the double CD set issued in the US and the UK included two more covers which were not included on the album: "The Needle and the Damage Done", originally by Neil Young, and "Come Up and See Me (Make Me Smile)" originally by Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel.
Apart from the single, "Perfect Day" also appears on the albums
- John Jones, Anthony J. Resta, Bob St. John – additional production and engineering
- David Richards – mixing
- Mark Tinley – additional programming
Susan Boyle version
|Single by Susan Boyle|
|from the album The Gift|
|Released||8 November 2010|
|Susan Boyle singles chronology|
Conflict with Lou Reed
In September 2010, Susan Boyle had to cancel a performance on America's Got Talent at the last minute. She had planned to sing "Perfect Day", but two hours before the show, she was told that Lou Reed had intervened, refusing her permission to perform his song and to include it on her forthcoming album The Gift. As she and her choir didn't have time to rehearse another number, she decided to cancel her performance. A couple of days later, representatives of Lou Reed stated that he had nothing to do with the decision and that it was just a licensing glitch.
A couple of weeks later, Lou Reed agreed not only to let her include the song on The Gift, but also to produce her music video of the song. It was shot on the banks of Loch Lomond and premiered on 7 November 2010.
|Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)||32|
|UK Singles (The Official Charts Company)||124|
- Oh, it's such a perfect day
- I'm glad I spent it with you
- Oh, such a perfect day
- You just keep me hanging on
Because the song is thought by some to be drug-related, the cardinal later clarified that he did not condone drug use.
- O'Hagan, Sean (October 27, 2013). "Lou Reed: Six of his greatest songs". The Guardian. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
- Bockris, Victor (1995-08-01). Transformer: The Lou Reed Story. Simon & Schuster, August 1, 1995. (ISBN 978-0684803661)
- Walker, Nick (1997-10-13). "Blurred vision at the Beeb". The Independent, 13 October 1997. Retrieved from http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/blurred-vision-at-the-beeb-1235724.html.
- Barrett, Annie. "AT&T Olympics Commercials: Pick Your Trip", Popwatch.EW.com, February 18, 2010
- Dunkley, Christopher. "Hard sell of the fast cut", Financial Times, 10 October 1997
- Mulholland, John. "Such a perfect way to sing the praises of a licence fee; John Mulholland on how Lou Reed's anthem for doomed youth became the ultimate sales gimmick", The Guardian, 27 September 1997
- "Children to reap what Perfect Day sows", BBC News, 21 November 1997.
- "Perfect Day for children", BBC News, 12 October 1998
- Ami Sedghi (4 November 2012). "UK's million-selling singles: the full list". Guardian. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
- "Chart Log UK". Zobbel.de. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
- NME: Lou Reed made Susan Boyle cry over 'America's Got Talent' refusal Published 9 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-27
- "Lou Reed - Reed Not To Blame For Susan Boyle's Perfect Day Snub". Contactmusic.com. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
- NME: Lou Reed lets Susan Boyle cover 'Perfect Day' after all Published 22 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-27
- NME: Lou Reed creates 'intimate' video for Susan Boyle's 'Perfect Day' cover Published 7 November 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-27
- [dead link]
- [dead link]
- "Ultratop.be – Susan Boyle – Perfect Day" (in Dutch). Ultratip.
- "Chart Log UK: Chart Date 20.11.2010". Zobeel.de. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
- Pulella, Philip. "Vatican's 'culture minister' tweets Lou Reed song". Reuters. Retrieved 19 November 2014.
- Original Seeds Vol. 2, liner notes by Kim Beissel
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