February 24th, 2014 · 5 Comments · By

For many of us, our music constitutes the sound track to our (miserable) lives. The melancholic albums that accompanied our blues, happier songs that made us hopeful again, and those days when everything just smiled at you: a glorious rendezvous and glimpse of deeply shared feeling, a sunny morning dripping with delicious smells, a professional promotion finally rewarding your efforts, a precious moment of communion with your universe…I admit that I didn’t really ‘get’ all the pathos that accompanied Lou Reed‘s death. For my part, his passing didn’t make me sad, it actually surprised me. I guess I thought this tough gritty person who had survived so much already was indestructible. As his music continues to enrich my (miserable?) life, there’s one song that comes to mind often on days like this one, when we say to ourselves that life’s actually not so bad. Because in truth, life is fragile and fleeting, just a handful of moments when we’re truly happy. So for one moment, or a whole day, for lack of a perfect life what could be better than ‘A Perfect Day’?

Ed. Note: Melody Supreme, located at 115 4th St. SE off the Downtown Mall, is Charlottesville’s best record store. The owner Gwen Berthy has impeccable taste and a curatorial hunger matched by few. One of my favorite parts of the store is Gwen’s handwritten notes on records. Le DISQUE DU LUNDI is Gwen’s online version of those recommendation gems–posted on Nailgun and available for purchase at Melody Supreme.

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5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 coogan // Feb 24, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    in the continuing push to have alonzo subverbo recognized as charlottesville’s public intellectual, here’s his pretty bitching lou reed post:

  • 2 james // Feb 24, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    I’ve always assumed “Perfect Day” was meant to be ironic/sarcastic; in the context of the rest of Reed’s bitter, nihilistic, self-(and other-)destructive oeuvre, it’s hard for me to take it at face value. One interpretation is that he’s “kidding,” putting on the joke of singing a “nice” song for once; he sounds too sad and lonely during the verses, and the big swelling chorus is deliberately too over-the-top traditional-romantic, no? and I always found the “feed animals at the zoo” line both hilarious and sad, like a fuck-up wreck of a person trying to imagine what a normal couple would do on a nice day. Or, the other interpretation is that the “you” he’s singing about in the song is Heroin, that he’s subverting a treacly ballad by singing it to a drug instead of a lover, that the days’ activities are all coded references to the menagerie of delights offered by the drug trip.

    I think the strength of this song is that it can support any of these interpretations. However, in my mind it will forever be associated with its’ use in “Trainspotting,” two decades after-the-fact; for me (and many others my age, who first heard it there) the song is, for better or for worse, “from” that movie far more so than it’s from “Transformer.”

  • 3 james // Feb 24, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    also on the subject of Reed and sincerity:
    when he died, I took the opportunity to revisit “Songs for Drella,” the album Reed and Cale reunited to make in 1990 as a eulogy for the then-recently-deceased Warhol.

    that’s a pretty amazing record; one of the things that I like about it is that it seems blatantly, baldly disinterested in sounding or appearing “cool” in any way. the production is simple and sparse and not at all romantic or evocative; the words are more text than song, read in a stilted, almost forced monotone. but the overall affect is that it just seems completely guileless and sincere.

    Warhol invented his own new category of “cool;” throughout his career, he was obsessed with capturing, amplifying, and manufacturing celebrity; Reed and Cale, his erstwhile protégés, also in some ways represented the pinnacle of a certain type of self-mythologizing and coy self-aggrandizement. the ultimate, original, too-fucking-cool-to-even-care art-punk-rejects.

    What’s so unexpected, and touching, about “Songs for Drella,” is that it sidesteps all of that completely, and is so clearly just a brutally honest, touchingly personal work about a departed friend, and the true facts of his life, beneath the artifice and celebrity; they seek to reveal what Warhol was “really like” not because they think we’d be interested, or to reinforce their own status as insiders, but just because they’re grieving and need to get those facts and feelings out somehow. (and in being explicitly about their shared mentor, it’s also implicitly about their relationship with each other — though they would ultimately fall out again in a feud during the making of the record).

    “Work” and “I Believe,” are some of my favorites, and the last song, “Hello it’s Me,” is pretty heartbreaking. it’s worth a listen.

  • 4 MattB // Feb 25, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    Thanks for the suggestion, James; I’d never listened to Songs for Drella. It’s quite interesting. And for what it’s worth, my 2 cents on “Perfect Day” is that he meant it to be both sincere and sarcastic. Those ominous minor key notes at the top of the verses… damn. I still get the shivers.

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