A few weeks ago, I called for a moratorium from bad news and made a concious decision to be positive and not let my cynicsm get the better of me. I consider it a Lenten penance as I really am a member of the Piss & Moan Club. Colette seized upon this opportunity to support me in my quest for “half-full”-ness by submitting a post on “happy” songs.
However, Colette omits THE MOST “happy” song, ever:
Don’t Worry, Be Happy — The Chipmunks
Also, I have to share a little serendipity. Today, as I was preparing this post, I recieved a comment on a post I did a couple of years ago on Marc Broussard and his take on Love & Happiness. Ned Theall, veteran trumpeter and Boogie King extraordinaire left a comment.
That made me VERY happy…
With thanks to Paul McC, Johnny N, Al Green, Aretha & all the musical joy-givers
Since Music Maven so wisely called a moratorium on bad news, it got me thinking: what songs just fill me pleasure every time I hear them? Which ones really get those endorphins going — thanks to their great hooks, upbeat lyrics and joyous performances?
I think we have to cling to whatever gives us joy in times like this. It can’t help to get bummed out — the universe doesn’t offer any reward at all for that. We’re alive, music in the air, love doesn’t cost a penny, and while that ain’t everything it sure is something to be grateful for.
So here are some of my Happy Hall of Fame songs & performances. May they give you a boost, no matter what’s bothering you:
From my childhood on, just a few bars of the Beatles could restore me to good mental health. This song especially, from “Revolver,” performed here by Sir Paul on tour, and just a fab picker-upper:
— Good Day Sunshine — Paul McCartney
This tune has been covered by many, many artists (most notably Jimmy Cliff), but I love it in its original reggae-beat format sung here in the 1970s by the guy who made it a beam of sunshine Top 40 hit, actor-singer Johnny Nash:
— I Can See Clearly Now — Johnny Nash
Whatever your religion, or lack of it, this tune is sanctified. It was a sneaky, underdog hit in the 1970s, from a then-obscure choir in Oakland, CA led by Edwin Hawkins. The rest is gospel history, but the great Hawkins Family of singers is certainly still with us:
— Oh Happy Day — Edwin & Lynette Hawkins and Choir
All right, I know what you might be thinking: shlockmeister Neil Diamond? Well Neil has many facets, and before he was doing a lot of middle-of-the-road, self-indulgent dreck, he was writing some very cool tunes. This for me is his best (written for The Monkees), which he performs here in a recent concert in Glastonbury, England with great verve and a terrific band:
— I’m a Believer — Neil Diamond
This song on the radio can send me into a delirium of delight. Yes, it’s my own true soul guru The Rev. Al Green, before he became a “rev.” In this clip from “Soul Train” he sounds so gooood, and looks so pur-dy. The tune? Of course, “Love and Happiness,” and he’s still singing it:
— Love & Happiness — Al Green
I have a special place in my heart for this little Aretha Franklin novelty, because it not only captures her in fine, fine 1980s form, but also connects me back to my very young youth in the Motor City, when Detroit was the proud auto and soul music center of the universe. It’s changed a lot, but the essence of its past glory is here:
— Freeway of Love — Aretha
A generation away in age, but a spirit that burns true and beautiful, is Corinne Bailey Rae’s great gift of a song with its message: when life gets tough, the tough listen to music. Rae has dropped off the face of the entertainment world since the drug death of her beloved musician husband. May she heal soon, and keep bringing us great music to soothe her soul and ours:
— Put Your Records On – Corinne Bailey Rae
Paul Simon has written a lot of brooding songs, and some upbeat masterpieces. Here’s a Tokyo performance, with a fine band (he always hires the best), on a tune that celebrates crazy youth and growing up In Queens:
Though his first post-Idol CD does little for me (so what else is new), I still adore David Cook. Compare his beautiful voice and assured musicality on last year’s American Idol with the motley crew vying for the title this year and…..well, let’s just say it’s no contest. This song, originally by The Turtles, was fave for me way, way back there in the 60s. I love his sly, ebullient take on it:
— Happy Together – David Cook
Finally, a recent version of a Dire Straits tune that’s a toe-tapping affirmation of humanity, without any pretentious BS. I love that Knopler is still out there, making music and spreading happiness:
— Walk of Life — Mark Knopler