Friday, November 12, 2010
Ah, That Feels Better: Susan Boyle's Cathartic "Perfect Day"
Few music videos can be said to offer a genuinely cathartic experience. Yet in my opinion the video that's been artfully created for Susan Boyle's cover of Lou Reed's song "Perfect Day" does just that.
Put it down, if you will, to the inspired combination of Reed's lyrics, Boyle's choir-backed delivery, a stirring mass of strings, and the beauty of Scotland's Trossachs National Park. Oh, and there are some small details that help as well, such as the contrast between some breathtaking aerial shots of the rugged landscape and Boyle's subtly expressive hand gestures. And then there's her knowing smile (three minutes into the song) when she lets the unseen provider of her perfect day know that "You just keep me hanging on."
No, things are definitely not as rosy as the song's title suggests. And we're given an indication of this right from the get-go by some seriously ominous strings that wouldn't be out of place on the soundtrack to Lord of the Rings.
Yet by the end of the song Boyle has taken herself to higher ground – in more ways than one. No, there's no railing against anyone or anything for being spurned or led on, just Boyle's ethereal and mantra-like reminder to the one who has opted to leave her in the wilderness that they'll be reaping what they've sown.
One critic has complained that Boyle has turned “Perfect Day” into a Catholic church hymn. Actually, I think it transcends such limitations to become catholic in the deepest and broadest sense of the word. The song, after all, touches on and speaks to very human (and thus, in my book, spiritual) truths. Accordingly, it does not deny the complexity and ambiguity of human life. I mean, Boyle may now be alone in the wilderness, but she's still singing wistfully of that "perfect day" that brought her there. Perhaps the acknowledgment of such ambiguity in our lives is the most cathartic experience of all.
Anyway, decide for yourself on the merits of the latest from Susan Boyle by listening to and watching the music video for "Perfect Day."
"Perfect Day" is available on Susan Boyle's recently released album The Gift.
Recommended Off-site Link:
Lou Reed Makes Susan Boyle's Perfect Day – Sean Michaels (The Guardian, November 9, 2010).
See also the previous Wild Reed post:
Time and the River