June 21, 2011

Pick your "Perfect Day."

1. With Elvis Costello:



2. With Pavarotti:



3. With Bono, Dr. John, Elton John everybody:



4. Lou, alone:

89 comments:

ET1492 said...

Lou alone.

master cylinder said...

very nice post!
lou alone

rhhardin said...

Tiffany Eckhardt Perfect Day

Not one of her greatest.

Runaway Train, in the same playlist, is okay.

Peano said...

I can't decide which one has garnered more accolades with less talent: Lou Reed or Bob Dylan.

rhhardin said...

Oh, go to "See all featured" and pick "Think about You"

One of Tiffany Eckhardt's best.

Especially for lyrics.

Lamar63 said...

I liked the Pavarotti version the best. The orchestration gave the song depth but Pavarotti did not look or sound well.

There is only one Lou Reed song that matters and this ain't it.

Bob_R said...

Lou is best alone. The big production number being used as an advertisement for the fascist policies of the BBC is a close second. You think light bulbs are bad - try to take over America's TVs and the tar and feathers will really come out.

XWL said...

I prefer the MacColl+Dando version, personally.

Peter Hoh said...

I'm partial to Lou alone.

I'm sure there's a cover version I might like better, but I haven't heard it yet. The temptation seems to be to overproduce the song.

I want it sung by a fragile, somewhat imperfect voice, without back up singers.

The Pavarotti version -- maybe it would have worked in his prime, but I have my doubts.

Jess said...

Best is Lou alone; BBC is a close second. If we could hear David Bowie do the whole thing alone, that might be the winner.

Lou Reed is a brilliant songwriter but not so much a vocalist.

wv: poting. The po ting needs help with the vocals.

Civil Sense said...

Great post! I did not know those other versions existed. However, I still have to go with the original Lou Reed alone.

As for the others, the Elvis and Lou was poor. It seemed that Lou was mailing it in and singing even more out of tune than usual. However, the Pavarotti and Lou was actually better than expected, even with the cheese factor.

The BBC commercial was good musically as well. It probably shows my bias because I liked it less after seeing the passive tense statement "unique way it is paid for by [confiscatory taxation of] you".

Peter Hoh said...

Eva Cassidy -- did she do a version?

Fred4Pres said...

I always think of Trainspotting when I hear this song now.

mRed said...

Iggy should do Perfect Day.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

I'm with Peano.

Moose said...

Yah - Lou alone. Well, Lou alone and like 30 years ago.

yashu said...

Love this song so much. Often think of it when Althouse relates some of her days with Meade.

It's the edge of melancholy in it that gets to me. (Something of its mood reminds me of the last stanza of Keats's Ode on Melancholy.) And the last line is so strange & cryptic, even dark (though of course it allows for a not-dark interpretation).

Lou alone. The simplicity of it is much more evocative (as opposed to Pavarotti's operatic grandeur or that overdone BBC thing-- which IMO drains the song of its fragile emotional core & ambiguity).

The Crack Emcee said...

I saw "Perfect Day" and then Elvis Costello + Lou Reed and thought, "I'll pass." Then I saw the other choices and knew I'd made the right decision. There's like some cultural time warp barrier, or force field, screaming LAME WHITE WORLD: DO NOT ENTER, so I don't.

I did this post last night of some older stuff, none of which I'm still crazy about, but at least there's some juice. You gots to have some juice,...

Fred4Pres said...

The best is Lou alone.

The group one is okay. The one with Elvis looks and sounds like they are both drunk. The one with Pavarotti made me feel like I just dropped acid.

Dust Bunny Queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dbp said...

If it is such a "perfect day" why does it have to be so melancholy?

I haven't had any perfect days but those which approached that threshold were at least non-sad.

hm said...

Think I might prefer Pavarotti and James Brown.

It's a man's world ...

MarkG said...

I'm not able to imagine Fred Thompson dropping acid.

JAL said...

@MarkG

My thoughts exactly.

Then I remembered it was Fred4 talking.

4, the avatar gives you too much gravitas.

Synova said...

The first one sounds like he's on something.

The second is... not much better even if it is more... musical.

The third one held my interest simply because I was wondering who all the different people were.

The fourth?

You know... I feel like I should get paid for listening to these. I don't think I'd do it for free. Obviously other people (like all of those in the third video) think it's a great song.

Bleh. I'm going to go you tube search Huey Lewis.

somefeller said...

There may be a new version coming out with Lou and Metallica coming out soon. Or at least some other work they are collaborating on. And yes, I definitely want to see and hear this.

roesch-voltaire said...

I thought Lou and Elvis together had more texture and was not over-produced. Thanks for the comparisons.

Synova said...

Maybe I should 'splain... Huey Lewis because "Perfect Day" seems like it's supposed to be romantic, and my (our) song is "Happy to be stuck with you."

Synova said...

Oh, wow, that James Brown & Luciano Pavarotti link is sweet.

mishu said...

When I saw the title of the post, I thought of Matt Johnson's version.

Patrick said...

#3 had me until the end, when it was revealed to be an advertisement for the BBC - keep the money rollin' in folks, or there is no way that there will be art. Seriously, that ended up sucking. Wasted the talents of everyone in it, who are now hacks of the state.

Scott said...

I miss Pavarotti so much.

Every day I bite the rook.

Jason (the commenter) said...

I'd prefer a "good day".

A "Shotgun" Gold said...

I've heard dozens of versions of this song over the years, but still prefer the original-- Lou alone, Transformer, version. The duet with Pavarotti is always fun because you've got one of the all-time great voices coupled with Lou's barely musical Leonard Cohen-like drone. But Lou seems compelled to try to sing a little so that there isn't an entire galaxy separating the vocal abilities, but instead a galaxy minus a small dying star. Still the Lou song that gives me chills is Heroin, from Rock n' Roll Animal.

The Crack Emcee said...

"hacks of the state."

That said it better than I did. I'm just glad I can spot 'em on sight.

A "Shotgun" Gold said...

Hey, Crack... ever heard Lou's song "I wanna be black"? Classic.

Carol_Herman said...

Pavarotti!

You know there is only one single 60-Minutes episode I ever cared for.

Pavarotti! With his dad. In a church in Modina.

Pavarotti's dad sang there. So, the son let him go first. The dad's voice was sort'a "tinny." But Pavarotti came in from underneath. And, lifted up his dad's voice, so that it SOARED!

There was no one like him! How lucky we all are for the wonderful electronics that captures this.

They say Caruso was good. But the recording devices weren't.

Gosh, how I can listen to Pavarotti all the live long day.

At first? I thought he was singing in Italian. Took a while to hear the English. But it doesn't matter what he sang. Pavarotti!

David said...

It wasn't today.

Pogo said...

There's like some cultural time warp barrier, or force field, screaming LAME WHITE WORLD: DO NOT ENTER, so I don't.

Ha ha ha. Hilarious. And very true.

The All-Star version is embarrassing.
We are the wooooorrrrld, we are the childrennnnn.

The solo version is to those of the era the only real version, cemented for another era by it's placement in a movie.

But all art involves a bit of theft, so another more definitive version awaits.
But not yet. Not yet.

Chip Ahoy said...

In the hacks of the state version, who is this? I would like to hear more of her.

Patrick said...

I loved the Pavarotti as well. Among his gifts was his ability to elevate other singers' voices, particularly pop singers whose talents were comparable only in that they were human singers. I don't know if his voice made the others step up their game (I believe it did with Bono), or if it just raised the gravitas of the song. Placido Domingo did a duet with John Denver, it was fine, but didn't have the same impact. Plus, Pavarotti did this late in his career, when his very best was behind him (though still, no one could touch him).

By the way, I saw my first live opera this spring. All I can say is that if you think you just might enjoy it, you should try it. It was better than any other live music I've seen (which is a lot, but not too much by some standards).

Synova said...

Chip, she stood out to me, too. Also the third singer, also a black woman, had an awful sweet voice (very unlike the lady you are asking about) and I thought maybe the song would be nice sung "sweet" instead of trying to sound so sleepy and off-key (which I do realize was on purpose) and raspy, as though "raspy" is a stand in for emotion.

Carol_Herman said...

Patrick. Doesn't it just want you to take out a recording of CARMEN?

Yes, also. Pavarotti could take other singers, as well as the entire Philharmonic behind him. And, fill an audience's ears with wonder.

It's not even a contest.

Kurt said...

Some of us see the title of the song and think instead of the Hoku song of the same name. OK, I plead guilty. I also think I prefer that song instead--it's so catchy!

traditionalguy said...

The one by Lou as he first sang it is perfect. The famous helpers were a distraction.

Carol_Herman said...

Bizet. Carmen. Pavarotti. A perfect day.

Aren't we lucky to have these recordings?

The universities were crazy to toss out the dead white males.

bagoh20 said...

I grew up with and have known junkies all my life. Some junkies quite using but stay junkies nonetheless. They have just worn me out waiting for the melancholy to pay off. It never did.

Palladian said...

"The one by Lou as he first sang it is perfect. The famous helpers were a distraction."

Exactly. Every other production of this song is like ruining a beautiful, astringent cup of the best Oolong tea by putting in six spoonfuls of sugar and hazelnut-flavored non-dairy creamer.

Nobody could turn something simple and beautiful into overbearing, high-calorie trash like Luciano Pavarotti.

A. Shmendrik said...

Jeezus - when I saw this I thought Lou had died or something! Sheesh!

Robert Cook said...

I've always hated Lou Reed and concur whole-heartedly with the sentiment expressed (ironically) by the proto-punk band The Dictators on their 1975 album GO GIRL CRAZY, where they sing:

"I'm just a clown walking down the street;
"I think Lou Reed is a creep!"


I do enjoy his METAL MACHINE MUSIC album, which I paid money to buy on cd a few years back.

He has written a few keepers, but he is a poor performer of his own work, (as with Bruce Springsteen, another over-rated rock performer).

madAsHell said...

Pavrotti was a pig!

He would vanish back stage between songs, eat, and then spray you with what failed to stick to his teeth.

The man was a pig!

Palladian said...

"I do enjoy his METAL MACHINE MUSIC album, which I paid money to buy on cd a few years back."

That explains everything.

Palladian said...

I'd rather listen to Laurie than Lou any day, even though she once stepped on my hand.

Robert Cook said...

That said, "Perfect Day" is one of Lou's successes, a lovely melody and sincere lyric expressing earnest feeling.

Pavarotti should never sing any pop song.

Kurt said...

By "Laurie," Palladian, I assume you are talking about Laurie Anderson? Now of course we're curious to know how she happened to step on your hand. Even though she looks somewhat diminutive when you see her on the stage (I've never been closer than some rather large number of rows back), I imagine it must have hurt nonetheless.

Revenant said...

I always think of Trainspotting when I hear this song now.

Same here. That was a very effective scene.

Jeff Gee said...

Lou is on the record with a big thumbs up for this version. I'm not nuts about the video, but it's considerably better than everything here except Lou's original.

Lem said...

Eva Mendez is on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

jr565 said...

Prefer Lou alone. I can't stand Lou live. His voice just really sucks. On the early records he had a great cool speaking/singing hipster quality to his voice. But when he tries to sing his songs live he first has backup musicians that butcher the material and then when he "sings" he does these weird improve that do not match the songs at all.

The only really good solo Lou reed album is the one with all the hits on it, because it was produced by David Bowie who added a great pop sheen to the songs. And his VU albums are all uniformly excellent.

In short, the original is best because Lou isn't doing it live AND it is well produced by someone who is an expert at making records

Mary Beth said...

The Jolly Boys

Fred4Pres said...

I'm not able to imagine Fred Thompson dropping acid.

What do you think Fred and Jeri do all day? Beats sangria in the park.

AST said...

It's such a pointless song.
It just keeps on dragging on.


wv: evenin

jr565 said...

I actually think very few people can do Lou reed songs justice including Lou reed. There is a quality to Lou Reed on those records that is really great, and the guitar and drum work really hit the right notes. Something like I'm Sticking With You sounds like some warped lost pop song, and Lou and co actually use things like harmony. Or something like I'll be your Mirror is simply a beautiful song from the riff to the sentiment itself. And you think Lou is a genius.

But then Lou released a bunch of his songs solo that were previously done by the VU and they COMPLETELY SUCK. it's like he has no clue what makes his own songs work and the arrangements are goddawful.

And when I say goddawful, that's an understatement. Lou can still come out with a great song here and there (coney island baby, dirty boulevard) but my guess is, he needs collaborators of note to make his stuff anything other than shit.

deborah said...

This one of my favorite music videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZ88oTITMoM

Peter Hoh said...

I liked The Raven, though I'll admit that I don't like everything on the album.

Kurt said...

I just listened to these and the various other links. In doing that, I realized that I actually remember this song mainly for the Susan Boyle version. In many respects it is overdone, but it works better than the Pavarotti version, that's for sure. The MacColl and Dando version that XWL linked was quite good, I thought.

I generally agree with jr565 about Lou Reid's voice and the problems with most of his songs.

Peter Hoh said...

Chip, I think the woman you're curious about is Heather Small.

Here is a video clip.

murgatroyd666 said...

I wish Zevon could be in on this.

Penny said...

Today was the most perfect day of summer so far.

And such a lovely and thought provoking post.

Happy Summer everyone.

Carol_Herman said...

Frank Sinatra remains unmentioned.

There was a time, back in my twenties,when Frank Sinatra's voice was ubiquitous. I played his songs at home. And, when I was in a car, it seems he was on every dial on the radio.

It was seduction music.

And, songs to end the night. The bartender was going home. Love didn't always work out okay. But he covered it. "From May to December."

And, it's gone now?

The Crack Emcee said...

A "Shotgun" Gold,

Hey, Crack... ever heard Lou's song "I wanna be black"? Classic.

No, and I think he's lying. Note to everybody:

It ain't all it's cracked up to be.

Palladian said...

"By "Laurie," Palladian, I assume you are talking about Laurie Anderson?"

I am.

"Now of course we're curious to know how she happened to step on your hand."

It's complicated.

fbsakamoto said...

Another home run Ann. You should bat clean-up for the Brewers.
I'll take the Pavarotti.....

Chip Ahoy said...

Thin Q, Peter.

I'm looking at (listening to) Heather Small stuff now. Apparently she has one big songProud all over the place. I wish I knew how you manage to find these things.

themightypuck said...

I'm a huge Lou Reed fan from my youth when I used to listen to Coney Island Baby in secret because you couldn't let anyone know you had a hard on for that shit and not be a social outcast. Transformer, Rock n Roll Animal and Berlin were all great albums. I love what John Cale said about Lou Reed: How can someone be such a sensitive songwriter and be such a prick?

themightypuck said...

3 and 4 were both good but the Dando duet mentioned upthread beats all.

Revenant said...

How can someone be such a sensitive songwriter and be such a prick?

Constant substance abuse?

yashu said...

Agree with jr565 re most of his thoughts here. It's surprisingly difficult to think of great, memorable Lou Reed/ VU covers (that I'm familiar with).

I like:

Cat Power's version of "I Found a Reason" (VU original here).

The Modern Lovers' live version of "Foggy Notion" (VU original here).

The cinematic dream-transmutation of "After Hours" into "If You Rescue Me" in The Science of Sleep.

None of the others that come to mind now seem worth mentioning. I'm sure I must be missing some great ones.

Pogo said...

Re: Laurie Anderson and hand-stepped-on

Loved her first album, O Superman to pieces.

k*thy said...

On a day when the wind is perfect, the sail just needs to open and the world is full of beauty. Today is such a day. - Rumi

The Crack Emcee said...

Pogo,

Loved her first album, O Superman to pieces.

Let X = X, will you?

"Captain sez" nobody wants to talk about that, heh-heh. We're all going down,...together - discussing hack work. Now where were we?

Oh yeah - something about the "great" works of Lou Reed,...and how I.

I Feel.

Feel Like.

I Am,...

Pogo said...

You know, I could write a book,

and this book

would be thick enough

to stun an ox.

Christopher in MA said...

"How can someone be such a sensitive songwriter and be such a prick?"

Ask Johnny Mercer.

Don B. said...

How can you leave out the gay dance club version by Indigo. Personally it's my favorite.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGzV6IUwelY

Rhodamine said...

I agree with XWL - Kirsty MacColl owned this song. So other than Lou alone, I'd say her duet with whomever that was.

Duran Duran covered it too! I didn't see them mentioned. It wasn't all that . . . good. But okay.

Methadras said...

Did the worlds most interesting man or chuck norris approve this?

reason11 said...

1. Lou alone: His vocals are imperfect but it's part of the song I've grown to love.
2. BBC: Moments of brilliance. Opened my eyes to the possibilities but overall, just okay.
3/4. Pavarotti & Costello just didn't work for me.

Craig said...

I want to hear a Bruno Mars cover.

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