Perfect Day (Lou Reed song)

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"Perfect Day"
Single by Lou Reed
from the album Transformer
A-side"Walk on the Wild Side"
ReleasedNovember 1972
RecordedAugust 1972 at Trident Studios, London
GenreGlam rock, art rock
Length3:46
LabelRCA
Writer(s)Lou Reed
Producer(s)David Bowie, Mick Ronson
Lou Reed singles chronology
"Perfect Day"
(1972)
"Satellite Of Love"
(1973)
 
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"Perfect Day"
Single by Lou Reed
from the album Transformer
A-side"Walk on the Wild Side"
ReleasedNovember 1972
RecordedAugust 1972 at Trident Studios, London
GenreGlam rock, art rock
Length3:46
LabelRCA
Writer(s)Lou Reed
Producer(s)David Bowie, Mick Ronson
Lou Reed singles chronology
"Perfect Day"
(1972)
"Satellite Of Love"
(1973)

"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, which became the UK's number one single for three weeks. Reed re-recorded the song for his 2003 album The Raven.

A version by Duran Duran reached number 28 on the UK Singles Chart in 1995.

About the song[edit]

The original recording, like the rest of the Transformer album, was produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson (who also wrote the string arrangement and played piano on the track).

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 (and 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.[1]

Some commentators have further seen the lyrical subtext as displaying Reed's romanticized attitude towards a period of his own addiction to heroin; 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.[2]

Reed's original recording was featured on an AT&T commercial featuring snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler that ran during the 2010 Olympics.[3]

The song appeared in the trailers for the film You're Next and series 3 of Downton Abbey. It was also featured in a television advertisement for the 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.

BBC corporate film and charity release[edit]

"Perfect Day"
Single by Various Artists
ReleasedNovember 17, 1997
FormatCD
Length3:46
LabelChrysalis / BBC
Writer(s)Lou Reed
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".[4] 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."[5] 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.[4]

Prompted by a huge public demand the track was released on November 17 1997 as a charity single for Children in Need, and Lou Reed said "I have never been more impressed with a performance of one of my songs."[6] 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,[7] and by November 2012 has sold 1.55 million copies.[8] 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[edit]

Performers in order of appearance; parentheses indicate mute appearance, and dividers indicate verses/sections.








Sequels[edit]

Following the success of the "Perfect Day" music video, the BBC produced two 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[citation needed], 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. The cover was parodied on a 1997 special Harry Enfield and Chums.

Music Live 2000[edit]

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.

This line-up included Rolf Harris and a beginning and ending performance from Lou Reed himself.

Duran Duran version[edit]

"Perfect Day"
Single by Duran Duran
from the album Thank You
ReleasedMarch 13, 1995
Length3:53
LabelEMI, Capitol – DD 20
Writer(s)Lou Reed
Producer(s)Duran Duran
Duran Duran singles chronology
"Too Much Information"
(1993)
"Perfect Day"
(1995)
"White Lines"
(1995)

A cover version of "Perfect Day" was the first single from the Duran Duran covers album Thank You. It reached number 28 on the UK Singles Chart in 1995.

Lou Reed has been cited as an inspiration by several members of Duran Duran, and the album Thank You was intended to be a tribute to the band's influences, in the style of David Bowie's Pin Ups.

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.

Backing vocals were provided by longtime Duran Duran collaborator Tessa Niles. The recording was produced by John Jones and David Richards, with additional programming by Mark Tinley.

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."

Chart positions[edit]

The song reached number 28 on the UK Singles Chart.

B-sides, bonus tracks and remixes[edit]

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.

Track listing[edit]

Other appearances[edit]

Apart from the single, "Perfect Day" also appears on the albums

Personnel[edit]

Duran Duran:

With:

Also credited:

Susan Boyle version[edit]

"Perfect Day"
Single by Susan Boyle
from the album The Gift
Released8 November 2010
Length4:31
LabelSyco/Columbia Records
Writer(s)Lou Reed
Producer(s)Steve Mac
Susan Boyle singles chronology
"I Dreamed a Dream"
(2010)
"Perfect Day"
(2010)
"I Know Him So Well"
(2011)

Scottish recording artist Susan Boyle covered the song on her second album The Gift and also released it on 8 November 2010 as a single.

Conflict with Lou Reed[edit]

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.[9] 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.[10]

A couple of weeks later, Lou Reed agreed not only to let her include the song on The Gift,[11] 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.[12][13]

Live performances[edit]

On 19 November 2010 she performed the song on Children in Need.[14] She also performed this again at the 82nd Royal Variety Performance, performed on the 9th December 2010.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (2010)Peak
position
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[15]32
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company)[16]124

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Bockris, Victor (1995-08-01). Transformer: The Lou Reed Story. Simon & Schuster, August 1, 1995. (ISBN 978-0684803661)
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Barrett, Annie. "AT&T Olympics Commercials: Pick Your Trip", Popwatch.EW.com, February 18, 2010
  4. ^ a b Dunkley, Christopher. "Hard sell of the fast cut", Financial Times, 10 October 1997
  5. ^ 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
  6. ^ "Children to reap what Perfect Day sows", BBC News, 21 November 1997.
  7. ^ "Perfect Day for children", BBC News, 12 October 1998
  8. ^ Ami Sedghi (4 November 2012). "UK's million-selling singles: the full list". Guardian. Retrieved 4 November 2012. 
  9. ^ NME: Lou Reed made Susan Boyle cry over 'America's Got Talent' refusal Published 9 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-27
  10. ^ "Lou Reed - Reed Not To Blame For Susan Boyle's Perfect Day Snub". Contactmusic.com. Retrieved 2013-03-29. 
  11. ^ NME: Lou Reed lets Susan Boyle cover 'Perfect Day' after all Published 22 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-27
  12. ^ NME: Lou Reed creates 'intimate' video for Susan Boyle's 'Perfect Day' cover Published 7 November 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-27
  13. ^ [1][dead link]
  14. ^ [2][dead link]
  15. ^ "Ultratop.be – Susan Boyle – Perfect Day" (in Dutch). Ultratip.
  16. ^ "Chart Log UK: Chart Date 20.11.2010". Zobeel.de. Retrieved 2014-03-31. 

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Barbie Girl" by Aqua
UK Singles Chart number-one single
Various artists version

29 November 1997
(two weeks)
Succeeded by
"Teletubbies say "Eh-oh!"" by Teletubbies
Preceded by
"Too Much" by Spice Girls
UK Singles Chart number-one single
Various artists version

10 January 1998
(one week)
Succeeded by
"Never Ever" by All Saints