Boyle Refused Permission

Ryan Hodges

Susan Boyle, the homely singer with the beautiful voice who first gained attention as a contestant on the British TV show “Britain’s Got Talent” and then gained worldwide attention courtesy of YouTube, was recently left in tears after being told that solo artist and former Velvet Underground leader Lou Reed had refused to grant her permission to perform his song “Perfect Day.”

Boyle’s manager said via e-mail, “Susan was absolutely devastated to be told on the morning of the show taping that Lou Reed had personally decided to block her singing his already much covered song, “Perfect Day,” on “America’s Got Talent’ in L.A..”

Now, the fact that Reed would do that isn’t really all that surprising. He’s well known in the music business for being mercurial and temperamental. What was really surprising is that someone, somewhere thought it was a good idea for Boyle to cover that particular song in the first place.

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.

Pretty song, isn’t it? Now, what if I told you the song was about heroin? While not as obvious as songs such as “Waiting for the Man” or “Heroin” or “Last Shot,” it’s not too hard to read between the lines and see that “Perfect Day” is also about smack. So what’s a sweet, innocent singer like Susan Boyle doing singing a song about heroin? Somebody obviously wasn’t paying too much here and the references must have flown straight over their heads. The song’s final line should’ve been a dead give-away, though “You’re going to reap just what you sow.”

Of course, this isn’t the first time a song’s meaning has been lost in translation. In 1999, the pop band Sixpence None the Richer fell into the same trap with their cover of The La’s song “There She Goes.” Again, a song about heroin makes it into the Top 40 because somebody wasn’t paying attention to the lyrics.

There she goes

There she goes again

Pulsing through my veins

And I just can’t contain

This feeling that remains

Sometimes, however, it manages to work. Take the Cowboy Junkies’ cover of the Cure’s “Seventeen Seconds,” for example.¬† More famous for their cover of the Velvet Underground song “Sweet Jane,” the Junkies’ take on the Cure classic manages to keep the sleepy feel of the song intact.

Time slips away

And the light begins to fade

And everything is quiet now

Feeling is gone

And the picture disappears

And everything is cold now

The dream had to end

The wish never came true

And the girl

Starts to sing

The lesson here, ladies and gentlemen, is to pay attention to the lyrics before you have some pop princess sing a song. Some singers just aren’t meant¬† to sing certain types of songs.