Perfect Day

Album: Transformer (1972)
Charted: 45
Play Video


  • In this song, Reed sings about some lovely moments that could fill a romantic comedy: drinking sangria in the park, hitting a movie, feeding the animals at the zoo. The chorus crescendos with Reed exulting:

    Oh, it's such a perfect day
    I'm glad I spent it with you

    But it's all misdirection; later in the song, Reed reveals his true feelings:

    You made me forget myself
    I thought I was
    Someone else, someone good

    According to Victor Bockri's Transformer: The Lou Reed Story, the lyrics suggest simple, conventional romantic devotion, possibly alluding to Reed's relationship with Bettye Kronstad (soon to become his first wife) and Reed's own conflicts with his sexuality, drug use, and ego.
  • At the end of the song, Reed repeats the line, "You're gonna reap just what you sow." This alludes to St. Paul's letter to the Galatians 6:7 in the New Testament, which reads: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."
  • Reed claimed this song has nothing to do with drugs. Speaking with NME in 1973, he said: "That's a lovely song. A description of a very straightforward affair."
  • In 1997, a host of well-known singers and performers contributed to a new version of this song that was released as a single to benefit the Children In Need charity. Reed sings at the beginning and end of the song, with Bono, David Bowie, Suzanne Vega, Elton John, Boyzone, Emmylou Harris, Tammy Wynette, Shane McGowan, Gabrielle, Dr. John, Evan Dando, Brett Anderson of Suede, Burning Spear, Heather Small, Ian Broudie, Huey of Fun Loving Criminals, Joan Armatrading, Lesley Garrett, Robert Cray, Tom Jones, Ian Broudie of The Laughing Seeds, Skye Edwards, Thomas Allen all singing lines, with jazz saxophonist Courtney Pine providing an instrumental break. Also appearing is Laurie Anderson, Reed's girlfriend at the time whom he later married.

    The effort was organized by the BBC, which put together a video for the song tagged with a message promoting their diverse music coverage: "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."

    Released as a single, it went to #1 in the UK for three weeks and earned over £2,100,000 for the charity. Versions with just the male vocalists and just the female vocalists are included on the single.
  • The recording, like the rest of the Transformer album, was produced by David Bowie, with guitarist Mick Ronson providing the arrangement.
  • The Transformer album cover uses a photo taken by Mick Rock at one of Reed's concerts in London. The shot is washed-out with heavy contrast, the result of a printing error. Rock also printed a clear version of the shot, but Reed liked the washed-out version, so that's what they used for the cover, which became a classic image of Reed.
  • In 1995 Duran Duran covered this song, taking it to #28 on the UK singles chart. Lou Reed said that Duran Duran's version of "Perfect Day" was better than his own, and he wishes he could have sung the song as well as Simon Le Bon. He explained to Q Magazine.

    "They'd been very cooperative with me. They sent me the tape and I thought it was great. I don't dislike pop stuff, I love pop stuff, I just don't particularly do it. So when I said it's better than mine, it's better than mine as pop. Mine isn't, I guess what you would call you pop. But I thought they really trying to do a nice thing with it from their point of view."
  • This song was used in the 1996 movie Trainspotting in a scene where Renton (Ewan McGregor) overdoses on heroin. As a result of the film, many people included this song in their "smoking" mixes.
  • The song was featured on an AT&T commercial featuring snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler that ran during the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Comments: 14

  • Craig from PittsburghMy honest opinion after research is that Lou wrote this song about heroin but didn’t want to admit it after the negative vibe he related to the actual song “Heroin.” He had said numerous times that people would come up to him and say “I shot up to Heroin” or “ODed to Heroin.”

    I feel it is a person who is trying to “kick” but finally gives in and relapses. As an addict myself, “Perfect Day” is much more symbolic of the life of an addict than the song “Heroin.” It is mellow reflection of how a “fixed” user feels when able to score. It truly is perfect to be holding and not dope sick. It’s “Perfect” to be able to get right and not at this moment do or care about anything.

    Then comes the realization. (You’re goin to reap just what you sow.) Although the day was perfect, the realization of what you’ve done is now here. An addict who has somewhat put his life back together and then relapses comes to believe that it’s never gonna stop. You get clean for a little while and then you go back. The understanding that the sowing (shooting up) will lead to the reaping (full-blown addiction, possible incarceration, mental hospitalization, death of relationships, loss of employment, self-degradation, loss of integrity, possible actual death from overdose) is here. And you knew it would lead to this, but just wanted to hit that vein so bad.

    Anyway, just my 2 cents.
  • Janetlee from Panama City, FlNow Susan Boyle has recorded it. Many folks may not like her cover, but I do. The video is awesome! READ: Susan Boyle and Lou Reed are making beautiful music together following a highly publicized scuffle in which the Velvet Underground front man reportedly denied the "Britain's Got Talent" alum the right to sing a cover of his song, "Perfect Day."Now the duo appear to be thumbing their noses at the press with Reed joining forces with Boyle to make the music video of her cover of "Perfect Day"According to E! Weekly, Reed himself came up with the concept for the atmospheric music video, which features shots of a heavily made up Boyle singing through the mist of Loch Lomond in Scotland.Though it may appear contrived, an insider on the Loreena McKennitt-style video shoot told the Sunday Mail that the weather did in fact boast much fog and "gale force winds.""I wanted to create a beautiful and intimate piece shot in Susan's native Scotland and she quickly agreed," Reed told the British newspaper.Read more:
  • Fred from Laurel, MdAnd now it's being used in an Olympics-themed TV ad, played during the televising of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games. It's an ad for AT&T ("here's to possibilities"), and the song version they use is the original by Lou Reed. Gretchen Bleiler starts out snowboarding in the half-pipe and propels herself into space. Pity her competition! Wonderful song--Lou always has a sly edge to him--and terrific ad, deliciously surreal!
  • Colin from Bracknell, United KingdomIt is absolutely NOTHING to do with drugs, heroin or anything like that!
    Lou Reed is on record countless times stating that this song is about an obsessive ex-lover who wants revenge because they have been dumped. If you listen to the song with this in mind, it becomes obvious whereas there is NOTHING in the song which refers to drugs.
    And before anyone says "Yeah..he would say that as he is hardly going to admit it!".....he wrote the song "Heroin" forgodsakes!!! Essentially, he is saying that this person made him forget all his worries and convinced him that he was worth something and then left, leaving him in despair with only his memories....but they will reap what they sow in the end.
  • Budoshi from Sandnessjøen, NorwayFor me it's a tribute to a day that one always want to have, never appreciates when it is there, and misses when it is gone.

    In short.. The perfect day when everything is just good.
  • J from Calgary, AbIt is a song about disappointment. The singer is eternally kept hanging on, but inevitably disappointed - likely because the person did not stay clean from drugs. The "perfect day" is sarcasm, and which is conveyed but the depressing nature of the music and the singer's voice. The singer is , but cleaning the person up - like in the movie Trainspotting where he is dragged to the hospital.

    Basically, it is a song you'd sing if you'd left your friend/lover because of his/her drug problem, later taken them back, and then had them ruin an anniversary date in order to go shoot-up.

    Basically, not a very happy song. : )
  • Andrés from Montevideo, UruguayI agree with Alasdair, it's a song about coming off drugs and that horrible world that are drugs. I think that was a perfect day because he did those things instead of drugs. The phrase "keep me hanging on", in my opinion, refers to stay clean and don't fall back into drugs. Anyway, that's just my view...
  • Michael from Heers, BelgiumIt's a drug song indeed. 'You just keep me haning on' but in the end there's still a warning that you reap what you sow. No love song like some would like to believe, all about doing drugs because that's the only thing that keeps someone hanging on.
  • Jesse from New York, NyPerfect Day (aswell as "Sweet Jane") were also performed by Lou Reed himself in the Christina Ricci film "Prozac Nation" released in 2001.
  • Dave from Sunderland, United StatesLou Reed famously went on record say he thought Durandurans version of the the song was his favorite and much preferred it to his own.
  • J from Port Huron, MiIt's a heartbreaker.
  • Alasdair from Newdigate, Englandi have heard that its about coming off heroin, although its melencholy nature hints that it may actually be about a heroin trip itself
  • Sander from Rotterdam, United StatesThe reason because this song was used in the movie Trainspotting is because this song is about heroin. Someone who scores heroin, and has a trip is havind a "Perfect Day". Sander
  • Eugenio from Naxxar, EuropeGreat song can someone tell me the meaning of it, thankyou Eugenio from malta
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Paul Williams

Paul WilliamsSongwriter Interviews

He's a singer and an actor, but as a songwriter Paul helped make Kermit a cultured frog, turned a bank commercial into a huge hit and made love both "exciting and new" and "soft as an easy chair."

Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket

Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet SprocketSongwriter Interviews

The "All I Want" singer went through a long depression, playing some shows when he didn't want to be alive.

Lori McKenna

Lori McKennaSongwriter Interviews

Lori's songs have been recorded by Faith Hill and Sara Evans. She's performed on the CMAs and on Oprah. She also has five kids.

Artis the Spoonman

Artis the SpoonmanSong Writing

Even before Soundgarden wrote a song about him, Artis was the most famous spoon player of all time. So why has he always been broke?

P.F. Sloan

P.F. SloanSongwriter Interviews

P.F. was a teenager writing hits and playing on tracks for Jan & Dean when he wrote a #1 hit that got him blackballed.

Rock Revenge Songs

Rock Revenge SongsMusic Quiz

John Lennon, Paul Simon and Lynyrd Skynyrd are some of the artists who have written revenge songs. Do you know who they wrote them about?