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Front cover of "A Perfect Day" for low voice
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"A Perfect Day" (first line: "When you come to the end of a perfect day") is a parlor song written by Carrie Jacobs-Bond (1862-1946) in 1909 at the Mission Inn, Riverside, California.[1] Jacobs-Bond wrote the lyrics after watching the sun set over Mount Rubidoux from her 4th-floor room. She came up with the tune three months later while touring the Mojave Desert.[2] For many years the Mission Inn played "A Perfect Day" on its carillon at the end of each day.[3]



"A Perfect Day" was phenomenally successful when first published in 1910.[4] Eight million copies of the sheet music and five million recordings sold within a year;[5] 25 million copies of the sheet music sold during Jacobs-Bond's lifetime, and many millions of recordings circulated as various artists performed the song on the fast-growing means of audio duplication.[6] It was her most-requested number when Jacobs-Bond entertained the soldiers at U.S. Army camps in Europe during World War I. The popularity of "A Perfect Day" became so rampant that even Jacobs-Bond indicated in her autobiography that she had "tired" of hearing it. Along with "Just Awearyin' for You"[7] and "I Love You Truly"—both published in 1901 as part of the collection Seven Songs as Unpretentious as the Wild Rose) and other works—"A Perfect Day" augmented Jacobs-Bond's career as the first woman who made a living from composing.[8]


Besides the plaintive 1915 McKee Trio instrumental rendition linked in this article, "A Perfect Day" has been recorded by numerous artists from various backgrounds, including David Bispham,[9] Evan Williams, Clara Butt,[10] Nelson Eddy, Italian-American Rosa Ponselle,[11] Blue Mountains Trio,[12] Virgil Fox (organ only),[13] Peggy Balensuela (singer) and William Hughes (piano),[14] African American Paul Robeson, Swedish American Alan Lindquest, Englishman John McHugh, Austria's Richard Tauber, Australia's Judith Durham, The Fureys (Ireland),[15] Germany's Annah Graefe,[16] Scotland's Moira Anderson,[17] and English baritone Sir Thomas Allen accompanied by Scottish Malcolm Martineau.[18] On the screen accompanied by Barbara Stanwyck at the piano, Sterling Holloway sang "A Perfect Day" in the 1940 feature film Remember the Night.[19] A Norwegian translation ("En deilig dag") by Otto Leisner has been recorded by Sissel Kyrkjebø.[20]


"A Perfect Day" exemplifies the sentimentality popular in the late Victorian and post-Victorian era but has risen above such a sequestered view by nuances of studied reflection which, combined with the chord progressions of Jacobs-Bond's tune, have borne its appeal across time and cultural boundaries. "A Perfect Day" persists as an elegy using the analogy of the end of day as the end of life.[21]

In 1929, at Lake Arrowhead, California, with "A Perfect Day" playing on a phonograph, Jacobs-Bond's only child, Frederick Jacobs Smith, committed suicide.[22]


  1. ^ The place is indicated in a line inserted above the title on p. 3 of the high voice (soprano) edition published in 1938 by the Boston Music Company; this version is in the key of C.
  2. ^ Reublein, "America's first great woman popular song composer" site.
  3. ^ Mission Inn Museum Jacobs-Bond site. The Mission Inn maintains a Carrie Jacobs-Bond Suite.
  4. ^ When first published in 1910 by Carrie Jacobs-Bond & Son in Chicago, it came out in transcriptions for high voice (soprano, tenor) in the key of A-flat and low voice (contralto, bass) in F. A medium-voice (low soprano / high alto, baritone) transcription appeared later, in the key of G. Publication information and the sheet music (including notes and lyrics) are part of the Lester S. Levy Collection of the Johns Hopkins University Peabody Institute, online at Johns Hopkins University site (accessed 2009 September 03).
  5. ^ Library of Congress Jacobs-Bond site.
  6. ^ Wisconsin Hometown Stories: Janesville. Wisconsin Public Television. WPNE-TV. 2008-01-17. Cf. Jacobs-Bond on
  7. ^ For which Frank Lebby Stanton wrote the lyrics.
  8. ^ See the sources in the articles on "I Love You Truly" and Carrie Jacobs-Bond. Peggy DePuydt appropriated the song title for her biography of Jacobs-Bond—A Perfect Day: Carrie Jacobs-Bond, the Million-Dollar Woman (New York: Golden Book Publisher, 2003), 334 pp., ISBN 1588989151, ISBN 978-1588989154. The copyright expired in 1963 (Information on the Inetgiant site accessed 2010 February 10).
  9. ^ Jacobs-Bond was apparently enamoured of Bispham's circulation of the song. When Jacobs-Bond published "A Perfect Day" in 1910 she added the header "As sung by Mr. David Bispham" above the title (the header appears on p. 3 of the sheet music). She retained the statement in a 1938 republication of the song (with the imprint indicating the Boston Music Company as the sole-selling agents but also explicitly citing Carrie Jacobs-Bond & Son Incorporated, then of Hollywood, California) even though by that time numerous others had recorded it.
  10. ^ Nimbus Records, Rel. 2 (2004).
  11. ^ Who recorded the song with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Josef Pasternack conducting. See Nimbus Records, No. 17.
  12. ^ In Music for Grand Dining, 2005, with Gustaw Joseph Szelski (violin), Gavin Tipping (piano), & Georg Mertens-Moussa (cello), ASIN B001121MUI.
  13. ^ EMI Classics, 1996 April 23.
  14. ^ Songs of Carrie Jacobs-Bond: Songs My Grandmother Taught Me, Albany Records, 2001, ASIN B000QZWB1K.
  15. ^ 25th Anniversary Album.
  16. ^ Also known by the stagename Tink.
  17. ^ Voice to Remember, Universal/Spectrum, 2004. See SHOF Jacobs-Bond recordings site.
  18. ^ More Songs My Father Taught Me (London: Hyperion, 2003). As of 2009 August 03 the on-target Durham version is no longer freely available because of concerns about restrictions on intellectual property. Other versions: McHugh, Williams, Ponselle, Robeson, Eddy,Tauber (5:56 in), Graefe. A snippet of Lindquest's version (recorded at a 1940 San Francisco exhibition featuring George M. Cohan, Irving Berlin, and other luminaries of music), with Jacobs-Bond herself at the piano, is available as "A Perfect Day" from Parlor; as Rick Reublein observes at "America's First Great Woman Popular Song Composer" Jacobs-Bond's intro is more spirited than the overly andante cadence to which Lindquest wants to sing the song, but she dutifully gets into sync with him.
  19. ^ Holloway's rendition on YouTube. In the film Holloway calls the song "In the End of a Perfect Day"; "The End of a Perfect Day" and "At the End of a Perfect Day" are vernacular titles.
  20. ^ "En deilig dag" ("A Perfect Day"), translation into Norwegian by Otto Leisner, sung by Sissel Kyrkjebø.
  21. ^ Benjamin Robert Tubb displays the complete lyrics of "A Perfect Day" and a midi file of the tune on his "Music of Carrie Jacobs-Bond (1862-1946)" site.
  22. ^ Rick Reublein, "America's First Great Woman Popular Song Composer" site. The death of her only child affected Jacobs-Bond profoundly. She dedicated her 1940 book of poetry, The End of the Road, to him. Jacobs-Bond, Carrie (1940). Palmer, Jamie. ed. The End of the Road. Hollywood, CA: George Palmer Putnam. ISBN 1419129422. p. iii.

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