OPTIMISM

OptimismOne of the things that I appreciate about the arts in general, and music in particular, is that it can be a way to make sense of the world or to at least see it from a different perspective.  There are plenty of songs that lead us to believe that the future is problematic, even unbearable. But this week, we looked at  tunes that make you believe that there’s a rainbow hiding behind every storm cloud.  Yes, a show for all you optimists out there: Two hours of anthems dedicated to the power of positive thinking. Thanks to Suzie for suggesting the theme and to everyone who contributed to the songlist, especially Kira from Lennox Head who outdid herself with at least half a dozen tracks for consideration. Obviously, the subject hit a chord with a lot of you!

Optimism is, however, in the ears of the beholder: songs that delight one listener will make another cringe. Still, only a boring old fart could fail to be enthused by our opening track: ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters. I loved the use of this song in the BBC series THE SINGING DETECTIVE, written by Harold Pinter and starring Michael Gambon, so here’s the clip for you to enjoy too:

Next it was Curtis Mayfield with his irresistible MOVE ON UP. The crucial thing about this song is that Mayfield is a realist, aware that life is full of “complications” but radiating hope anyway. There’s more qualified optimism in Desmond Dekker’s honey-sweet version of YOU CAN GET IT IF YOU REALLY WANT. According to Desmond, as long as you put in the hard yakka success is assured. Excellent advice.

220px-LittleMiltonAnyone who doubts the power of love to improve life should listen to Little Milton singing WE’RE GONNA MAKE IT. He and his lover are so poor they can’t  even “spare a roach a crumb”, but, he promises, together they will pull through. 

Modern LoversJonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, on the other hand, are bitter and alone but still they have found a way to look towards the future with optimism. They are dedicated to being DIGNIFIED AND OLD. Heartwarming stuff.

Written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, ONE FINE DAY, sung by The Chiffons, is a declaration of teen devotion that pins all its hope on a philandering lover waking up to himself and coming back home. I think today’s psycho-babble would describe that as being in denial. So, just in case we forget that the wrong partner can make your life miserable, we followed with the Altered Images track  I COULD BE HAPPY – a passionate, bubbly wish for escape. And talking of escapism, we followed with Joe Smooth’s early house hit PROMISED LAND.  And then it was the great voice of Esther Phillips singing her 1975 Disco version of WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES.

Bluegrass boys Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs have faith in the idea that heaven will eventually give them relief from the world’s sorrows. The song?  SO HAPPY I’LL BE. And just to put things in perspective, we followed with a song from my favourite Monty Python film, LIFE OF BRIAN. Recalling the Monty Python crew singing ALWAYS LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE, as they hang on their respective crucifixes puts a smile on this lapsed Catholic’s face every time I hear it. And I dare you not to whistle along!

The New Radicals tune YOU GET WHAT YOU GIVE embodies the idea that simple pleasures put whatever problems we are having into perspective. “Don’t let go, you’ve got the music in you”. I loved OUR LOVE IS HERE TO STAY from the one and only Blossom Dearie who sadly passed away in February this year. The good news? She was 84 and leaves us a legacy of wonderful music. 

200px-You_Got_ItAnd talking of wonderful music, the very optimistic song BLUE SKIES was written in 1926 by Irving Berlin and has been recorded by many, many artists. One of my own favourites, that made the list this week,  is by Willie Nelson. And then it was this week’s Roy Orbison track:  Roy’s so euphoric about love that he’s going to give his girl anything she wants. The song – YOU GOT IT.  

Byron Bluesfest favourite, Seasick Steve, followed with HAPPY MAN. That’s Ruby Turner helping out with the duet and K.T. Tunstall on rhythm guitar. But here’s a question for you – is the title of his album “I Started Out With Nothin and I’ve Still Got Most of it Left” optimistic? Hmmmm.

Johnny Nash’s I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW is, much like Irving Berlin’S BLUE SKIES, a song that uses the useful image of the clear sky to evoke a positive outlook. Nash’s passionate vocals make a powerful statement and its little wonder that many consider this one of the greatest hit singles of all time. This clip where Nash performs on the Midnight Special in 1973 is worth including, just so you can check out the leather outfit. 

The Staples Singers sang their classic track, I’LL TAKE YOU THERE. Its pure joy as Mavis Staples sings of her hope for a better world. And if you ever doubted that a song could be both spiritual and sexy, well this is your answer.

Australian, and North Coaster, Pete Murray gave us OPPORTUNITY – another song that encourages us to look at all the good things that life has to offer. “Life is short but you’re here to flower”. 

200px-GDtouchofgreyvinylA couple of tracks followed that took us all back in time: The Turtles with HAPPY TOGETHER, another song that uses the blue sky as a metaphor for a hopeful future and the Grateful Dead with a song about surviving life’s setbacks. Written by Jerry Garcia, TOUCH OF GREY was the bands biggest commercial hit. And if you are a deadhead you should tune into BayFM between 10pm and midnight Tuesdays when the Ice Cream Kid takes you on the Long Strange Trip. It’s all about the Grateful Dead and their ongoing influence.

A nice surprise was XTC with I’M STUPIDLY HAPPY. It’s great when a writer who’s associated with heavier themes can also, so easily, write of the giddy feeling of love and how it can put everything else into perspective. How cute is that line:  “All the lights of the cars in the town form the strings of a big guitar/I’m the giant who’ll play you a tune from wherever you are.” Ohhhhhh. See, frontman Andy Partridge did have a soft spot after all.

So what’s the dominant message from today’s show on Optimism? LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED. And, of course, we had to play the Beatles very optimistic track of the same name to reinforce the notion.

Here’s this week’s complete playlist:

Accentuate the Positive – Bing Crosby/Andrews Sisters  

Move on up – Curtis Mayfield

You Can Get It If You Really Want – Desmond Dekker & The Aces

One Fine Day – The Chiffons

Dignified And Old – Jonathan Richman And The Modern Lovers

We’re Gonna Make It  – Little Milton

I Could Be Happy – Altered Images

Promised Land – Joe Smooth

What A Difference A Day Makes – Esther Phillips

So Happy I’ll Be – Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs

Always Look On the Bright Side of Life  – Monty Python

At Last – Etta James

Strength, Courage & Wisdom  – India Arie

Three Little Birds – Bob Marley

I Believe I’m Gonna Make It  – Joe Tex

You Get What You Give – New Radicals

Inspiration Information – Shuggie Otis

Shiny Happy People – R.E.M.

Our Love Is Here To Stay  – Blossom Dearie

Blue Skies – Willie Nelson

You Got It – Roy Orbison

Happy Man – Seasick Steve

I’ll Take You There – Staple Singers

I Can See Clearly Now – Johnny Nash

Opportunity  – Pete Murray

Happy Together – The Turtles

Touch of Grey – Grateful Dead

Don’t Stop – Fleetwood Mac

Stupidly Happy – XTC

All You Need Is Love  – The Beatles

Next week: Days of the Week

Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park, Tuesdays 2-4pm, (Sydney time), on BayFM 99.9. Also streaming at http://www.bayfm.org

 

 

Accentuate the Positive 2:42 Bing Crosby/Andrews Sisters   Swing 4 20/06/09 5:09 PM
Move on up 3:07 Curtis Mayfield Mega Disco Funk CD3 Funk 7 20/06/09 5:13 PM
You Can Get It If You Really Want 2:41 Desmond Dekker & The Aces The Israelites: The Best Of Reggae 4 20/06/09 5:15 PM
One Fine Day 2:08 The Chiffons – 1960’s Mix R&B 8 13/06/09 8:31 PM
Dignified And Old 2:27 Jonathan Richman And The Modern Lovers 23 Great Recordings Alternative 6 20/06/09 5:47 PM
We’re Gonna Make It 2:36 Little Milton R&B 1 20/06/09 7:33 PM
I Could Be Happy 3:33 Altered Images New Wave Hits Of The ’80s – Volume 4 New Wave 2 14/06/09 12:19 AM
Promised Land 5:32 Joe Smooth Promised Land Reggae
What A Difference A Day Makes 4:32 Esther Phillips Northern Soul Jazz 5 20/06/09 6:10 PM
So Happy I’ll Be 2:31 Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs 1948-1959 (Disc 1) Country 2 14/06/09 12:37 AM
Look On the Bright Side of Life (All Things Dull and Ugly) 3:58 Monty Python Monty Python’s Life of Brian (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture) Soundtrack
At Last 3:00 Etta James R&B/Jazz 1 20/06/09 8:51 PM
Strength, Courage & Wisdom 4:58 India Arie Acoustic Soul Rhythmic Soul 3 20/06/09 6:29 PM
Three Little Birds 3:00 Bob Marley Reggae 3 20/06/09 6:32 PM
I Believe I’m Gonna Make It 3:01 Joe Tex Soul Classics CD4 Soul 1 14/06/09 12:14 AM
You Get What You Give 4:58 New Radicals Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too Alternative
Inspiration Information 4:11 Shuggie Otis Six Feet Under R&B 7 20/06/09 6:36 PM
Shiny Happy People 3:45 R.E.M. Out of Time Alternative 1 20/06/09 9:18 PM
Our Love Is Here To Stay 3:11 Blossom Dearie Once Upon A Summertime Jazz 9 20/06/09 6:45 PM
Blue Skies 3:33 Willie Nelson Stardust Country 5 20/06/09 6:48 PM
You Got It 3:31 Roy Orbison The Essential Roy Orbison (Disc 2) Rock 6 20/06/09 6:49 PM
Happy Man 3:34 Seasick Steve I Started out with Nothin’ and I Still Got Most [Jewelcase] Blues 3 20/06/09 6:53 PM
I’ll Take You There 3:18 Staple Singers Be Altitude: Respect Yourself R&B 4 20/06/09 6:56 PM
I Can See Clearly Now 2:44 Johnny Nash Pop 10 19/06/09 3:55 PM
Opportunity 3:38 Pete Murray See The Sun Folk 1 20/06/09 7:04 PM
Happy Together 2:58 The Turtles Pop 3 20/06/09 7:04 PM
Touch of Grey (1987) 5:49 Grateful Dead The Very Best of the Grateful Dead Rock 7 20/06/09 7:17 PM
Don’t Stop 3:12 Fleetwood Mac Greatest Hits General Rock 2 20/06/09 7:20 PM
Stupidly Happy 3:46 XTC Apple Box – Remasters (Disc 4) New Wave 1 20/06/09 7:14 PM
All You Need Is Love 3:48 The Beatles Yellow Submarine Classic Rock 1 20/06/09 7:25 PM
Keep on the Sunny Side 3:06 Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs Songs of Famous Carter Family Bluegrass 4 20/06/09 7:28 PM
Advertisements

About Lyn McCarthy

Lyn presents a weekly radio show at BayFM 99.9 in beautiful Byron Bay in New South Wales, Australia

Posted on June 23, 2009, in Broadcasting and media, community radio, music - nostalgia, music, blues, music, country, music, r&b, music, soul, Radio Program, Roy Orbison, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: