It’s no secret around the parts that I’m a little bit obsessive over music. I’m not one of those people that gets stuck on one genre and tries to push it on all of their friends though. I am, however, one of those people who gets stuck on all sorts of kinds of music and tries to push them on their friends.
I go through phases. Sometimes I’m all about discovering new bands and feeling on top of the world because I found something amazing before the rest of the world got a hold of it. Other times I like to delve into genres that I wouldn’t ordinarily listen to- like country, R & B or soul. Lately though, I’ve had the urge to fall back on some of the music that has gotten me through the tough times and the best times. Lately I can’t seem to get enough of it. I’ve been walking around with ear buds stuck in my ears, singing like there’s no tomorrow. I get home from work- and instead of turning on the tv- I put on some Paul Simon and dance around my house like I did when I was a kid. I can’t wait to work out, because I know for at least an hour, I’ll have some quality ear-time with my ipod. I’m a nerd that way, but I don’t care. It makes me feel alive, and after the last few months- I need that more than anything.
I also mentioned a couple weeks ago that I’ve been keeping track of all the things in the world that truly make me happy. About 90% of those things have been music related. The other 10% have been nerd-tv related, but that’s a completely different post.
Since I’ve been on a cheese-fest here lately, I’ve decided to share some of my all-time-favorite happy songs. These are all songs that have meant something to me at some point in my life. Not all of them are “happy” in the most obvious sense, but they all have the ability to move me. Most of the songs that made the list are ones you know, and probably seem cliche. But so is your face.
And now, in no particular order:
Huey Lewis and the News: Power of Love
Before ipods and all that shizzle, there was a little thing that we called the “the mixed tape.” I made many. Most of them were made with songs that I taped off of the radio. Sometimes I would even record my voice in between the songs and pretend I was a radio DJ. Shut up. One of the mixed-tapes that I remember with the most clarity, was one that I labeled “Put On A Happy Face” in purple magic marker. This is the song that inspired that mix. Later, when CD’s and MP3’s were all the rage, I made a mix titled “Happy Go Lucky.” The first song among a very random NSYNC/Rolling Stones/The Beatles/ Belle and Sebastian compilation was, once again, “The Power of Love.” I don’t know whether my love for this song stemmed from my love for “Back to the Future” or whether it just struck a chord with me somewhere along the line, but to this day- I cannot hear it without smiling. A few months ago, I had a pretty rough break-up with a guy who had a major hard-on for Huey, and I was a little scared that this song would somehow lose it’s… ahem… “power.” But alas, it still does it for me.
The Cure: Mint Car
BAHHH!!!! I’m listening to this now and I can barely type because I’m dancing in my chair. Just hearing the first chords makes me want to skip down the street and pick flowers and have a down feather pillow fight and roll down a steep green hill. I’m a HUGE fan of The Cure in general, but this song really does it for me. Even when I’m not feeling particularly happy about relationships, this song somehow manages to give me hope. I hope that one day I feel half of what Robert Smith felt when he wrote this.
Meatloaf: Paradise By the Dashboard Light
This song isn’t about a happy situation. In case you’re not familiar, Meatloaf wants to get laid, and he wants it bad. He promises this chick the moon and the stars and a wedding ring if she’ll just drop her panties. When she finally does, all he wants is out. It’s actually quite hilarious. This is one of my favorite songs in all the land. Not only because the story makes me laugh, but it brings back memories of when I taught dance at a summer camp during college. I was the leader of our “summer olympics” and made up an epic parody of this song about our “white team.” It was greatness. And we won. Or at least came in second out of three, I can’t remember. But I do remember all 8 minutes of the original lyrics, and I sing them at any chance I get. It’s fun for me to annoy people sometimes.
Peter Gabriel: Solsbury Hill
I don’t have much to say about this song, except for it makes me smile. I think that Peter Gabriel wrote it about when he was leaving Genesis. It’s all a little bitter sweet. He knew that it was a tough decision, but he also knew what was best for him at the time. I feel that way a lot. People don’t necessarily understand why I do the things I do. I don’t always make the smartest choices in life; but I rarely do anything without putting a lot of thought into them. No matter what I do, things seem to fall into place eventually. I think that’s what this is about. And I love it.
Billy Joel: Scenes from an Italian Restaurant
Ahhhh… Billy Joel. I love him with all of my soul. And I like rhyming. But honestly, “The Stranger” is one of my all time favorite albums of all time. Again, I don’t think most people would say that “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” is necessarily a “happy” song all the way through. It’s about reminiscing about happy times though, and sometimes that’s almost as good as actually living in a moment. Sometimes events seem better once they have some time to settle in. The other day, one of my facebook friends described this song as being a sandwich. I think that’s exactly what it is. A beautiful, delicious, piano-man sandwich. I want to eat it up over and over again. Especially the middle part with all the good stuff.
Steve Winwood: Back in the High Life
This is, without question, the first piece of musical ear candy that I turn to when I’m feeling down. I know it’s cheesy. I know it is a bit cliche. But dude, it’s instant medicine for your soul. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found myself driving down the street with my windows down with this song as the soundtrack. It’s about opportunity and hope and all the good things about life. A couple weeks ago when I was feeling down, my roommate called to tell me that I had to watch the latest “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” episode, which was just a given. They used this song in a scene and LA was like- ” this will make you happy.” And sho-nuff, it always does.
John Prine and Iris DeMent: In Spite of Ourselves
John Prine writes good songs. That’s a given. But this has to be the best love song of all time. It’s funny, it’s honest, and it makes people happy.
Paul Simon: I Know What I Know
My Lord, I could probably make 3 posts just about the Paul Simon songs that I love, but that would get old really quick. This is one of those songs that I don’t really understand. I think it’s about just living in the moment and taking things as they come, but I could be completely wrong. It doesn’t really matter. This song reminds me of being a kid, of dancing around my room to one of my favorite albums (Graceland), and that in itself, makes me ecstatic. I recently re-downloaded the album and have listened to it non-stop the last few weeks. It makes me dance like a crazy mad-woman and I love that.
Hall and Oates: You Make My Dreams Come True
Well if this isn’t as cliche as they come, I don’t know what is. This is another one that reminds me of my childhood. I remember my mother popping in a “Hall and Oates” cassette tape on the way to swimming lessons and rolling my eyes at my mother’s obsession. Secretly though, I loved it. It’s another band that I could go on forever and a day about but truly, I think Marc Webb portrayed this song’s meaning best in “500 Days of Summer.” He showed the world what this song has always meant to me. It makes me want to snap my fingers and high-five strangers and now I’m officially a gay-wad. Is that word PC? Who cares? This song makes me not care about anything!!!
Bob Schneider: Big Blue Sea
Again, not an inherently happy song, but one that has a history with me. Bob was kind of our guy in college. In high school it was Pat Green, but in college my group of friends were all Bob- fanatics. We went to as many of his shows as we could. We listened to The Scabs while we were getting ready and drinking Natural Light. He just reminds me of the best times. Two of my best friends in the world recently got engaged at a Bob concert. They are planning to walk down the aisle to 40 Dogs. I love that. I really don’t have a favorite song, but Big Blue Sea is always one of my go to’s when I’m feeling down.
Alrighty folks, that’s enough for tonight… but this post will be continued. Maybe not tomorrow, because I am a commitment-phobe… but soon. Sleep tight mutha ucka’s. And sing pretty.