Tuesday Tunes 77: Happy Again

One of the reasons I use Facebook is that many of the musicians I like have pages on there which I follow, and the best of them interact with those of us who leave comments for them on what they post. One such is Gretchen Peters, who I have mentioned and shared here before, and who I had the great good fortune to see live in concert before health issues prevented me from going to shows any more. The other day, she posted a new video of a song she had co-written with Bryan Adams – to me, not the most obvious of collaborations, but I watched the video and loved it. The song was called So Happy It Hurts, and it is going to be the title track of Bryan’s new album: it is out now as a single, though the album isn’t scheduled for release until 11 March next year! This got me thinking that perhaps happy, in its various forms, would make a good theme for one of these posts. Then a little voice from the depths of my memory started nagging at me: hadn’t I done this before? Yup, indeed I had, in Tuesday Tunes 23, all the way back in August 2020. But it is such a good theme that I thought, what the hell, go for it again. So, without any repetition of the songs I shared last time, this week’s theme is happy.

There is only one place I could begin, isn’t there? Say hello to Bryan – and his Mum:

How brilliant is that! It is such a fun video, a very catchy tune, and I’d have thought he has a guaranteed hit on his hands with it. There is so much joy in it all: as he says in his YouTube intro one of the things he missed most during lockdown was the ability to just get in the car, go out and drive, and this song is a celebration of the open road and what it can bring us (even if the video was shot in a studio!). I love it!

A couple of the comments left by viewers remark that Bryan was a part of their musical upbringing, so I thought that my next choice for today should be a part of mine:

Considering its vintage I think I was lucky to find a colour video of that, and one which has clearly been edited and enhanced to such a good level – especially seeing as the 2021 video above it is in monochrome! The Dave Clark Five, often known as The DC5, held a special spot for me: they were formed in Tottenham, in 1958, and as a supporter of the local football team I was bound to like them, wasn’t I? They were the second British band, after the Beatles, to appear in the US on the Ed Sullivan Show, and made a total of eighteen appearances there. This was their first hit, released in the UK in November 1963 and reaching #1 in January 1964. It was released in February 1964 in the US, where it peaked at #6. In getting to the top spot here it dislodged the Beatles’ I Want To Hold Your Hand – one up for London over Liverpool! To avoid any potential confusion, the vocalist is Mike Smith – Dave Clark is the drummer. And to this day no one has worked out whether ‘Glad’ was a real person 😉

I’m also going back to the Sixties for my next tune:

We’re back in monochrome territory again, but that kind of goes with the era, I think. There is nothing complicated in that, and no deep meaning – just the four band members having some fun. And cake! This was one of The Who’s quieter moments, but I’ve always liked this song. According to some sources, Pete Townshend has said that the song is about a man who slept on the beach near where he went on holiday as a child. Children on the beach would laugh at the man and once buried him in the sand. However, the man never seemed to mind and just smiled in response. If you’re very quick you might have picked up the shout of “I saw you” at the very end: this is apparently John Entwistle calling out to Keith Moon, who was trying to sneak into the recording session, having been barred by the others as he used to make them laugh and wreck their concentration. The track was released as a single in the UK in December 1966, where it got to #3, and in the US in February 1967, where it became their first top forty single, peaking at #24. It did best in Canada, where it reached #1.

I’m going much more recent for my next one – all the way to May 1972, when The Rolling Stones released their double album Exile On Main Street. Happy was one of the tracks on the album, and was also released as a single;

This track is notable for the fact that the lead vocal is taken by Keith Richards, who wrote it, rather than Mick Jagger, as was their usual habit. In this concert performance from 1972 Jagger can’t be kept out of the limelight for long, though! The album was #1 in both the UK and the US, but as a single the track didn’t fare all that well, only reaching #22 in the States and not charting here, though it did get to #5 in France and #9 in Canada. I still like it, though – always have done!

I never need an excuse to include the fabulous Mary Chapin Carpenter in my posts, and this is no exception, as she has a ‘happy‘ song, too. I’m giving you the version she shared in April 2020, as part of her Songs From Home series during lockdown, as it is so beautifully natural:

In her introduction to the song on YouTube, Mary says “We’re back in the kitchen, Angus can be relied upon to find his squeaky toy towards the end of the song, White Kitty is halfway through her daily 23 hour nap, and as we enter another week of lock down, it’s hard to remember what day it is around here. But no matter, as long as we #staythefuckhome, we have songs to play…we really don’t need much, do we?” That is typically her: the ability to see what is important, and what we need to get by, and that is such a lovely performance. You can find the recorded version of Don’t Need Much To Be Happy on Mary’s 2012 album, Ashes And Roses. Like every song of hers, the lyrics are intelligent and meaningful, speaking to our hearts as well as our minds. The final verse really does speak volumes, I think:

“I had to learn to be grateful
I had to learn how to see
Mistakes that might have proved fatal
Are gifts I now receive”

The Ashes And Roses album reached #26 in the UK, performing rather better than in the main US chart, where it only got to #72. It did make #16 on their country chart and #7 on the folk one, though.

My penultimate choice for this week is a kind of continuation from that, in that it questions why things which should make us happy don’t always have the desired effect:

If It Makes You Happy it can’t be that bad, right? That is something I think we all need reminding of, on occasions. Sheryl Crow has been a favourite of mine ever since she burst onto the scene with Tuesday Night Music Club in 1993, an album which accompanied me many times on the long commute to work by car around London’s North Circular Road, back in the days when it was hell on earth due to a series of major roadworks. This song was on her second album, just called Sheryl Crow, which was released in September 1996, peaking at #6 in the US and at #5 here in the UK. This was the first single taken from the album: it got to #10 in the US and #9 in the UK.

To close this week, this is the ultimate in simple messages about happy. Yes, I know we can’t always follow its advice, but wouldn’t it be great if we could;

This video has over 239m views on YouTube. There is also a video of the same song, credited to Bob Marley, which has over 161m views. Considering that Bobby McFerrin wrote this in 1988, and Bob Marley died in 1981, that would have been quite an achievement on Marley’s part: he was good, but not THAT good! McFerrin saw the phrase on a motivational poster – it had also been used on postcards – and wrote this song. It was included in the movie Cocktail, and became a big hit as a result: #1 in the US, Canada, Australia and several other countries, and #2 in the UK – the first ‘a cappella’ song to top the US chart. The other two in the video are the actor, Bill Irwin, and a certain Mr Robin Williams. Fun fact: in a piece of pure coincidence, Bill Irwin also featured in the video for a Mary Chapin Carpenter song, Let Me Into Your Heart, in 1996. If you’d like to see it, you’ll find it here – do take a look, it’s a fun video and watching it will make you happy. Bobby McFerrin is best known as a jazz vocalist, for which he has received several awards, so this was a step away from his normal territory. I have always loved its simple, happy vibe, and can’t think of a better song with which to sign off this week’s selections.

My objective today was to spread a little musical happiness. If you are now feeling cheerful, having watched and listened to this collection, then my work here is done for this Tuesday. Have a good week, try to keep Bobby McFerrin’s message in your mind if circumstances permit, and I’ll see you again soon. Take care 😊