I was a fan of this when Lou Reed wrote it but for some reason, when the BBC commissioned a special "various artists" version to coincide with a fundraising campaign, the song took on a whole new dimension. On the surface, this is so simple, so beautiful, so elegant. A paean to the joys of summer, a quiet day when the noise and the immenseness of the city roll away from you like an ebb tide, and you create a world, a moment, a day that's just for you. Magically, life contracts to a small space inhabited just by you, your dreams, the sensations of warm grass on bare feet, the slow burn of hot sun on your back, the prickle of sweat and the occasional noise of passing children. And all the time, the song reminds you of what you're enjoying until, as if too much of a good thing tips the scales, it gently points out that this perfection doesn't come for free.
At one or two points, the song strikes a darker note: "Just a perfect day/You made me forget myself/I thought I was someone else/Someone good", and the refrain "You just keep me hanging on." Hanging on where? Why? Maybe it doesn't matter. There's a sense of wonder, of bewilderment at the construction of such a wondrous moment and perhaps, just perhaps the fear that it might not come your way again. Perhaps the best moment of all is Courtney Pine's extraordinary sax solo, that lends the song that sense of wonder, of reaching out behind us to grasp and hold onto the moment. But by the end, we're reminded of the aching sense of joy the day brought, and we decide to count our blessings.
A song for summer, a song for love.