Song of the Day: Perfect Day by Lou Reed

Perfect Day” is a song written by Lou Reed in 1972, originally featured on Transformer, Reed’s second post-Velvet Underground solo album. 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 cover version recorded by Duran Duran reached number 28 on the UK Singles Chart in 1995.


Just a perfect day
Drink Sangria in the park
And then later
When it gets dark, we go home

Just a perfect day
Feed animals in the zoo
Then later
A movie, too, and then home

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
You just keep me hanging on

Just a perfect day
Problems all left alone
Weekenders on our own
It’s such fun

Just a perfect day
You made me forget myself
I thought I was
Someone else, someone good

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
You just keep me hanging on

You’re going to reap just what you sow
You’re going to reap just what you sow
You’re going to reap just what you sow
You’re going to reap just what you sow


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”) with an undercurrent of menace (“you’re gonna reap just what you sow”). The line alludes to Galatians 6:7: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

From a music theory point of view, the song is complex. Where the chorus is in a straight forward major key, the verse cannot be captured in a single key. It starts with the tonic chord of the parallel minor to the chorus key – deceivingly hinting that it is written in that key – but then continues with a cycle of fifths progression. It eventually ends in the dominant chord of the chorus key, making the song explode into the chorus.

The song’s lyrics are often considered to suggest simple, conventional romantic devotion, possibly alluding to Reed’s relationship with Bettye Kronstadt (soon to become his first wife) 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; 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.

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

The song is featured in the Series 3 trailer for the television show Downton Abbey.

The song was used heavily in the trailers for the 2013 horror film You’re Next.

In 1997 this was utilized in a promotion by the BBC of its diverse music coverage. The track was released as a charity single for Children In Need and it topped the UK charts, earning over £2,100,000 for the charity. The song featured a host of well-known singers and performers, including Lou Reed opening and closing the song. Amongst the other musicians on the track are Bono, David Bowie, Suzanne Vega, Elton John, Boyzone, Emmylou Harris, Tammy Wynette, Shane McGowan, Gabrielle, Dr. John, Evan Dando and jazz saxophonist Courtney Pine, who provides an instrumental break.

Lou Reed

Birth name Lewis Allan Reed
Born March 2, 1942 (age 71)
Brooklyn, New York
United States
Genres Rock, experimental rock, art rock, protopunk,noise, drone, psychedelic rock, folk rock,glam rock, blue-eyed soul, spoken word
Occupations Musician, singer-songwriter, producer, photographer
Instruments Vocals, guitar, ostrich guitar, bass, synthesizer, keyboards, piano, harmonica, drums, percussion
Years active 1964–present
Labels Matador, MGM, RCA, Sire, Reprise, Warner Bros., Pickwick
Associated acts The Velvet Underground, John Cale, Nico,David Bowie, The Killers, Mick Ronson,Gorillaz, Laurie Anderson, Peter Gabriel,Metallica, Metric
image by ~Makoto13
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