634. A Perfect Day


Image result for autumn light photosThe crisp November light awakens my inner Van Gogh eyes, and everything I see becomes a brilliant, vibrant painting by a brilliant Artist. Brick walkways and buildings take on such a powerful presence, casting precisely postured shadows, sentries tethered to their posts.  Countless leaves gather in splashes of ochre, amber and copper underfoot, each a finely drawn map of a brief, fragile life. I could spend all day reveling at one weary butter-colored birch leaf stuck to the bottom of my shoe. The golden sunlight had left a trail of gold leaves littered about in extravagance.
It’s all about the light. The light. I recall from my art history classes that many master painters followed the light in France and Spain by seasons to illuminate their creations. It had to be just so. In the days of no electricity, you traveled for better light. Not a bad idea.
I start humming Lou Reed’s song “A Perfect Day”…
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
Image result for lou reed songs
I know it’s not Central Park or Brooklyn, but there is an intense beauty pulsing in the fading trees as they say good bye to summer by undressing themselves gloriously. The smoldering smell of leaf mold comes later in autumn on cold days after a hard, killing frost, but not today. Today children just roll in their wondrous dry crunchiness. Little Van Goghs will gather up a few of these precious leaf jewels and secrete them away in heavy books at home. Come a winter day these budding artists will study their awesome leaves, smell them, trace them, and wonder, wonder, wonder back to their perfect day.
Image result for kids in leaf piles photos
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
Well, you know how Lou was, or maybe you don’t…dysthymic on a good day. He has to turn the artist’s scalpel edge onto himself to set up a counterpoint to the perfect day, that it’s a mirage and he is a poseur. This is where the bloody purple hues flow. How is it that someone who can write of beauty in the world and in others can’t seem to find it in himself? Why must the wintry winds ravage the nearly naked oaks in just a week?
Image result for scalpel cutting skin pictures
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
Image result for lou reed album covers
All I know of Lou Reed is his edgy lyrics and novel life. A very special leaf in the billions of billions out there. I suppose his voice was one prized leaf I brought home. Actually it was my oldest daughter who exposed me to the rest of Lou, the part beyond his commercial successes. I still thrill to the powerful intro to Sweet Jane, and everyone knows Walk on the Wild Side. But there’s so much more beyond the popular stuff. The Velvet Underground, so I’ve heard, sold only a few thousand copies of their first album, but everyone who bought a copy started their own band… so the story goes. Pretty potent influence. Granted, some Lou is hard to listen to, though worth it. He busted through a lot of taboos, God rest his soul, as he found beauty and truth in the grimy gutters of New York City life.
Image result for manhattan street gutters photos
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
I have no certain interpretation of what he means with “You just keep me hanging on”.
Is it a fickle lover’s complaint or a compliment to a friend who helps him stay alive? Good lyrics do this, I think: allow for various pathways for the listener to take. Let the tone or today’s context fill in the meaning.
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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
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And there he ends with a Biblical truth. Is it for the other person in the song? If so, is it a warning or a condemnation? Is it for himself, that he is in fact reaping what he sowed throughout this life? These lyrics are remarkably simple unless you weigh them on the scale of your artist’s soul. Then they become sweet potatoes filled with lead.
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