Alex and His Pen: Feel-Good Songs
Since yesterday was all about sad songs, I decided to go the other direction and talk about songs that are good for when one is happy. Though to be fair, this one is slightly more subjective. After all doesn’t any song that one likes automatically count as a song to uplift one? I decided to keep the subjectivity to a minimum though I’ll admit some of my choices may surprise some of you. In fact, when I told my mother about # 2 on this list, she said, “that’s a happy song?” But first, a few honorable mentions:
Why Should I Worry by Billy Joel: I absolutely love this song from Oliver & Company. Not only is it upbeat, but itâ€™s an absolute earworm.Â And the song does have great tone about living a carefree lifestyle. I just had a little difficulty articulating my reasons beyond that.
Happy by the Rolling Stones:Â Keith Richards described this song as the perfect song to listen to if you want to be put in a happy mood. I do like this song, and I love the Stones, but I can think of songs I prefer more in both categories. Besides, compared to some of the other songs, I find this a tad repetitive.
Donâ€™t Look Back by She and Him: Of course,my bias would have to rear its ugly head at least once. Even if it werenâ€™t for a certain blue-eyed brunette singing this song, it is a very bouncy, up-tempo song. But I have to ask myself: Does it put me in a good mood for those reasons or because you-know-who is singing it? This is a great song, but I think my obvious bias sort of puts it on a different level from others.
And now, onto the main course. Like last time, I kept to a strict one-song-per-artist rule:
1.Â Â Â Â Â Â Who Loves You â€“ Frankie Vally and the Four Seasons: This is probably the least obvious choice on my list, but like I said, there had to be at least one subjective choice. At first glance, you might think itâ€™s because of the uplifting tone and heavenly way the song is sung, but for me, thereâ€™s a deeper meaning. As some of you may know, I sent in an audition tape for the film version of Jersey Boys. In the weeks surrounding my audition, I got Jersey Boys fever. I listened to their songs to the point of obsession, I watched whatever clips of Jersey Boys I could find on Youtube and I drove family and coworkers nuts by constantly singing â€œEarth Angelâ€ for my audition. (Itâ€™s from the show and yes, I picked it because it was in Back to the Futureâ€¦ and because it doesnâ€™t require falsetto.) Suffice to say, I was pumped for this audition. I figured that even a bit part would be a golden opportunity, but sadly I never heard back from anyone involved. â€œWho Loves Youâ€ has not only become my favorite Four Seasons song, but itâ€™s also the song that closes Jersey Boys. And because of its sentimental tone, itâ€™s easy to see why. But for me, a combination of those elements help me tap into that feeling where I really believed I could have gotten that role and had a part in something truly special. Maybe instead of Bob Gaudio, I should have auditioned to play Joe Pesciâ€¦
2.Â Â Â Â Â Â Drift Away â€“ Dobie Gray: Admittedly, this one is more hopeful and a little bittersweet as opposed to overtly happy. The song starts on a great guitar hook that sounds likeâ€¦ well, itâ€™s drifting away. The song starts out a very understated tone: Very simple drumming, soft instrumentation. It allows us to really absorb Dobie Grayâ€™s emotive singing. As the song moves into the chorus, it gets a little more elaborate with a sweeping string section. Lyrically, the song describes how Iâ€™ve often felt (and how I’ve been feeling a lot lately). Iâ€™ve gone through rough patches that made me unsure of how I was going to get through,but Iâ€™ve still kept sure that there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
3.Â Â Â Â Â Â Mr. Blue Sky â€“ Electric Light Orchestra: Â Yeah, I know this song has been seriously overplayed, but damn it I still love it! And how could I not include a song thatâ€™s all aboutÂ being happy and the things that make us feel good. And itâ€™s got such a bouncy, uplifting tempo, itâ€™s hard not to get into the mood. Come to think of it, this songâ€™s kind of like the opposite of â€œKing of Pain,â€ isnâ€™t it? ELOâ€™s Out of the Blue is one of my all-time favorite albums and â€œMr. Blue Skyâ€ is the conclusion of â€œConcerto for a Rainy Day.â€ The concerto details how the weather can affect oneâ€™s mood (something Iâ€™m beginning to realize Iâ€™m all too susceptible to). â€œMr. Blue Skyâ€ succeeds â€œSummer and Lightningâ€ which is a really good song that has sort of a sit-inside-during-a-rainy-day vibe to it. If â€œSummer and Lightningâ€ is about staying in home during a dreary day, â€œMr. Blue Skyâ€ is about breaking free on a sunny day. And of course, after it tells us to â€œplease turn me overâ€ (a holdover from, you know, records), we get â€œSweet is the Night,â€ but thatâ€™s a song for another day.
4.Â Â Â Â Â Â Donâ€™t Stop Me Now â€“ Queen: Yeah, Iâ€™ve talked about this song in the past, but again, itâ€™s hard not to include a song thatâ€™s about having a good time on a list like this. In the intro to this song, Mercury shows off his classical piano training. This coupled with his great singing creates this almost divine sound. I think Freddie Mercury might be one of the only people to create a divine sound over a fun-time song. After that, itâ€™s a blistering rocker. The fast-paced tempo creates the tone of a wild night. As always, Freddie Mercury completely lets loose, and totally sells uson having a good time. Itâ€™s hard not to catch the infectious energy of this song. FYI, this is a perennial favorite of mine at karaoke.
5.Â Â Â Â Â Â Here Comes the Sun â€“ The Beatles: This is one of my favorite Beatles songs and without a doubt, my favorite George Harrison-penned song. The Shy Beatle definitely shows off both of his strengths here. The guitar work is pretty and George sings this song in a very soothing manner. The minimal instrumentation at the beginning again allows the listener to absorb the emotional qualities of the guitar work and Harrisonâ€™s singing.The falsetto vocal harmonies in the chorus create the sound of an almost angelic chorus singing to us. Overall, the song has a tone like a lullaby witha dream-like quality to it. I talked earlier about how â€œMr. Blue Skyâ€ was used as the closer to songs about mood on Out of the Blue, and this song is used in a similar way. On Abbey Road, it follows â€œI Want You (Sheâ€™s So Heavy)â€. That song has a somewhat maniacal tone with its winding guitar riffs that create a counter melody. And it ends pretty abruptly â€“ which on the vinyl version concludes side one. So how do you begin side two? With a pretty, soothing lullaby of a song, and one of my absolute favorite Beatles songs.
So, that’s my list of feel-good songs. As always, feel free to share yours.