Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy songs

I don't need extra reasons to be happy today. The current temperature here in Chicago is 72 degrees. I have my front door open and am enjoying the sounds of someone else doing yard work (I'll get to my own later) and of dry leaves, free from snow and ice finally, scuffling along the sidewalk. Our trampoline is up in the backyard (protective enclosure as well, of course) and I have nowhere I have to be for the rest of the day other than wherever I want to be. Oh . . . and I caught a really great sale at a store down the road and bought a pair of $85 shoes for $15 and a pair of $120 boots for $15. wheeee.

But I want to talk about happy songs because this is the kind of day every single happy song ever written must have been written. It's the kind of day on which you don't even need happy songs and listening them is almost like gilding the lily, but you appreciate them nonetheless.

My favorite happy song is "Thank You World" by the Statler Brothers. I don't listen to country music, never have (much), and only know the Statler Brothers because my parents listened to them. It's a song that fills me up and makes me want to sing along, trying every line of harmony at least once, which means listening to the song at least 4 times in a row. I have it on my i-Pod, docked in the kitchen, and have to turn it waaay up when it comes on, driving the kids a little crazy, except for Ivan who dances along with me. I think part of the reason I love this song so much is because it reminds me of my dad. Most people who knew him--but not well--would remember him as a serious-minded man, always with a book in his hand, energized most when he was teaching. And I picture him like that as well a lot. But what I see in that memory that others might not is his foot tapping along to whatever music was in the background. Dad couldn't sing but he still tried. It's not that he sang off pitch; he just had a range limited to about 5 notes. Music was always always always in our house growing up, and I'm so grateful for that fact. Ron says he's amazed that after 15 years, there are still songs he hears me sing for the first time.

Another favorite is Wayne Newton's "Too Late to Meet." I tried finding it on YouTube and it's not there. It's not one of his more popular ones, but it should be. I bought a Wayne Newton Christmas cd a few years back and couldn't even get through it once. I love you, Wayne, but once your voice changed, the magic was gone. People mock me when I express my love for him because they see the Wayne on "Dancing with the Stars," hardly recognizable even to himself these days, I'd bet. But go back and find the soft-voiced and better version of him, the pudgy-faced boy, and tell me he doesn't make you smile in the best of ways. When I was a senior in college, I lived with a friend, Michelle, who "introduced" me to Wayne and to Tony Bennett and Harry Connick, Jr. Michelle and I moved in together a few weeks before school started, and the end of that summer was the most liberating time of my life. Michelle was infused with so much joy at simply being alive that I couldn't help but find that joy contagious. It was also the first time in my life that I didn't define myself by who I was dating, who I loved, who loved me. It didn't matter, and that I could be that happy and that "alone" was miraculous to me. So I hear Wayne Newton today and I remember those feelings and want to write him a letter to thank him for helping me be happy in just being.

Finally there's "By His Word" by the Andrews Sisters. I don't even recall when or why I started listening to them. It sure wasn't my parents. My mother says she never cared for their music because they were popular during what, to her, was an unhappy time in the world. So when she hears them now, she thinks of those times. This particular song is, I suppose, technically gospel music. But it sure doesn't feel like it. Then again, I don't listen to any gospel music, so I don't have anything to compare it to except stereotypes. Again, I can't find it online or I'd share it here.

My sister calls my taste in music eclectic. And I suppose it is until you find the common theme: joy. Yes, I have my sad songs on my i-Pod as well (the theme to "Schindler's List," for instance), but even those songs give me a little bit of joy because how can you not find beauty in the kind of ache they're capable of emoting. "Thank You World," indeed.

How about you? What are your happy songs?


Shankar said...

I'm not sure if these are my "happy songs", but they lead the list of most played songs on my iPod:

"Jai Ho" from Slumdog Millionaire
"Our Last Summer" from Mamma Mia
"The Sweetest Feeling" by Jackie Wilson
"Superstar" by Jamelia
"Uptown Girl" by Billy Joel
"Hungarian Rhapsody No 2" by Liszt (Okay, technically not a song, but if you've seen Bugs Bunny in "Rhapsody Rabbit", you'll know why this makes me laugh)
"Liberty Bell March", aka, the theme to "Monty Python's Flying Circus" (can you listen to it without smiling, thinking about all the antics of those lunatics? I can't)
"Can He Love You Half as Much as I?" by Ray Stevens
"I Got My Game On" by Trace Adkins
"1234" by Feist
"Grace Kelly" by MIKA
"Let Me Entertain You" by Robbie Williams

Bobbie said...

I love "Jai Ho" simply from hearing it on your blog, and every time it starts, Simon comes running into the kitchen so he can hear it. I haven't seen the movie yet but will when it comes to the theater down the road from us. Now I need to go find some of these other songs I don't know about.