By Madeline Bocaro
© Madeline Bocaro, 2021. No part of this site may be reproduced or re-blogged in whole or in part in any manner without permission of the copyright owner.
This playlist is my ODE TO JOY!!!
The elation brought by the melody of the classical German epic ‘Ode to Joy’ is glorious. The poem was written in 1785 by German poet and playwright Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller. The music was made famous by its inclusion in Beethoven’s ‘Ninth Symphony’ premiering in 1824 in Vienna. This was one of the first classical pieces to use voices within a symphony, hence the term ‘chorale’. It also became the ‘Anthem of Europe’ in 1972. The hymn of brotherhood and peace is also played at many worldwide protests and celebrations. At the time of Brexit in 2020, ‘Ode To Joy’ re-entered the U.K.’s Official Singles Chart.
An electronic version of ‘Ode to Joy’ by Wendy Carlos using the very new Moog synthesizer (Carlos had owned one since 1966) was on the soundtrack to Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film A Clockwork Orange. This version of ‘Ode to Joy’ was played in concert venues prior to David Bowie’s Spiders From Mars walking onstage for their concerts in 1973.
Carlos’ debut album was the most successful and famous. Switched-On Bach (under the name Walter Carlos in 1968) features Moog performances of Johann Sebastian Bach’s masterworks. Carlos befriended and partnered with the instrument’s creator Robert Moog to refine the capabilities of the Moog synth. In 1980, Carlos again paired with Kubrick to compose the score for his film The Shining. She also scored the Disney film Tron in 1982. On its 25th anniversary in the year 2000, Carlos re-recorded Switched on Bach with a new interpretation.
Listen– Beethoven: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C56aBZYsxko
Listen: -Wendy Carlos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hF2ncda07pg
‘Joy to the World’ is a glorious Christmas carol originating in 1719 with lyrics based on Genesis Psalm 98 and also on Hendel’s ‘Messiah’. My friend’s father was part of a performance troupe which staged Gilbert and Sullivan plays – with all the lyrics translated into Yiddish. He was contemplating making a Christmas album, and I suggested the title Oy to the World.
Another song called ‘Joy To the World’ was written by Hoyt Axton and made popular by Three Dog Night. It first appeared on the band’s fourth album Naturally in 1970 and became a hit single in 1971.
‘Feeling Good’ was written by British singer / songwriter Anthony Newley for a 1965 musical, but the song lives on with many cover versions by Coltrane, Sammy Davis Jr., Traffic and most notably by the great Nina Simone on her 1965 album I Put a Spell on You.
Watch – The incredible Nina Live in Montreaux 1976
The music for the popular bittersweet yet uplifting tune ‘Smile’ was written by the great comedian and filmmaker Charlie Chaplin in 1936 for the soundtrack to his movie Modern Times. The wonderful lyrics were later written by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons. Many cover versions have been recorded by various legends, but none is more beautiful than Judy Garland’s 1963 performance on The Ed Sullivan Show…
Watch – Judy Garland: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_DJRw8LaK0
The best-known track from Frank Sinatra’s 1973 comeback album Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Back (the title is based upon his nickname) is his cover of Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Send in the Clowns’. This is from A Little Night Music (his musical adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s film Smiles of a Summer Night. Judy Collins recorded the song in 1975. In this sad song, the singer ironically asks for clowns to be brought in.
The Death Valley Girls have a great song called ‘Under the Spell of Joy’ on their 2020 album of the same name, which Iggy Pop often plays on his BBC6 radio show. He’s a big fan of the band, and so am I. This has a really cool Stooges groove…
‘Get Happy’ was composed by Harold Arlen (The Wizard of Oz) with lyrics by Ted Koehler. The song was made famous by Judy Garland in the 1950 film Summer Stock (who was perhaps the least happy person in films at the time) and later as a live concert staple. The lyrics are spiritual, preparing us be happy as we to get ready for the lord to takes us to the promised land on judgement day. A jazzy instrumental version was the theme song of the old Merrie Melodies cartoons.
Watch the famous dance routine from the film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7d0NRewzW4
Listen – Merrie Melodies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJ5uOxqUSnU
The Turtles (Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan) released the wonderful pop tune ‘Happy Together’ on their third album in 1967.
‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’ was recorded by John Lennon and Yoko Ono at NYC’s Record Plant in October 1971 with the Plastic Ono Band featuring Nicky Hopkins, Jim Kelter, Chris Osbourne and Hugh McCracken. The choruses are sung by Yoko along with the children of The Harlem Community Choir. The Christmas spirit is evoked by the use of sleigh bells, tubular bells and glockenspiel. Production is by Phil Spector. ‘Happy Xmas’ was accompanied by the Lennons’ striking billboard campaign spanning 12 major cities worldwide. The ad slogan, printed in bold letters was the song’s chorus, “WAR IS OVER! (IF YOU WANT IT) Happy Xmas from John & Yoko.” The melody is based upon an 18th century English/Irish folk song (‘Stewball’) about a race horse named Skewball. Peter Paul & Mary recorded the folk song in 1963 and in 1966.
Read my full story all about the song ‘‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’
‘Happy and Peppy and Bursting with Love’ was composed by Felix Unger and Oscar Madison. It was slowed down considerably by 1970s singer, actress and game show regular Jaye P. Morgan in her performance on The Odd Couple television show on the 1973 episode titled, The Songwriter.
Another television show, The Partridge Family (1970-1974) featuring teen idol David Cassidy had a fun theme song, ‘C’Mon Get Happy’. The show, about a musical television family was based on a real musical group of siblings – The Cowsills. Actually, the show had two theme songs in different seasons. The second was ‘When We’re Singin’’
‘Happy Days’ was another happy American 1970s sitcom, about teenagers in the 1950s. The theme song was recorded in 1974 with session musicians.
‘I’m so Happy Just to Dance with You’ appears on The Beatles’ third album in 1964. Side One features songs from the soundtrack to their movie, A Hard Day’s Night. This was writing by Lennon/McCartney and sung by George Harrison.
A different kind of happiness is the song ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’ on The Beatles (white album) in 1968. This is a complex and cryptic tune with changing meters. Another of John’s allegorical references to his relationship with Yoko.
Listen to the fabulous remix done on the album’s 50th anniversary in 2018:
A gentle tune about the circle of life, ‘Happiness Runs’ is by Donovan from his 1969 album Barabajagal.
My favorite lines:
The sun will always shine where you stand…
Happiness runs in a circular motion
Thought is like a little boat upon the sea
Everybody is a part of everything anyway
You can have everything if you let yourself be
Keith Richards sings ‘Happy’ on The Rolling Stones’ album Exile on Main Street (1972).
‘Happy Hunting Ground’ is a sublime Sparks rocker from their 1975 album Indiscreet. The song is about longing for our school days, when girls were ‘fair fair game’.
Katy Melua released a single called ‘A Happy Place’ from her album The House, produced and arranged by Ron and Russell Mael. Katy also collaborated with Sparks on a remix of this gorgeous song.
Listen: – Melua vs. Sparks https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xVYaVwoNRo
Listen: Katy Melua: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJxeFgOUddM
‘We’re a Happy Family’ is on The Ramones’ third album Rocket to Russia released in 1977. The lyrics make fun of families in America.
We’re a happy family we’re a happy
Family we’re a happy family me mom and daddy
We’re a happy family we’re a happy
Family we’re a happy family me mom and daddy
Siting here in Queens eating refried beans
We’re in all the magazines
Gulpin’ down thorazines
We ain’t got no friends our troubles never end
No Christmas cards to send daddy likes
Men daddy’s telling lies baby’s eating flies
Mommy’s on pills baby’s got the chills I’m friends with the President
I’m friends with the Pope we’re all
Making a fortune selling Daddy’s dope…
One of the greatest albums ever is a compilation of singles (1977-1979) by The Buzzcocks, Singles Going Steady. This includes ‘Everybody’s Happy Nowadays’.
ABBA released ‘Happy New Year’ on their Super Trouper album in 1980. It did not become a hit until 1999 when it was released as a single.
‘Happy Man’ is on Iggy Pop’s fifth solo album Party, released in 1980. This is his least loved record, but it does include some gems, including ‘Pumpin’ For Jill’.
Gen X was formerly Generation X, featuring Billy Idol. Their 1981 album Kiss Me Deadly includes ‘Happy People’
‘Happy Birthday’ is a jolly song released in 1981 by the Scottish band Altered Images featuring Clare Grogan on vocals.
Debbie Harry released a gorgeous and uplifting song in 1989 called ‘Brite Side’ on her third solo album Def, Dumb and Blonde. This was released as a single only in the U.K. It was featured in the U.S. television show Wiseguy, in which Debbie also appeared.
Mazzy Star released their dreamy song ‘Happy’ in 1996 on their third album Among My Swan. It was also a single.
‘Happy Hour’ is a song and also the title of an album by Japanese girl group Shonen Knife released in 1998. This is such a fun record with songs that are mostly about food!
The Beach Boys released their 12th studio album Smiley Smile in 1967. I like the song ‘Vegetables’.
Smiley Smile was their follow-up to Pet Sounds. This is a weird yet wonderful album drenched in harmonies which contains the song ‘Good Vibrations’ – already a smash hit single in 1966 before it was included on this album.
Listen – ‘Vegetables’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRSrrFOTlDY
A great little pop tune, ‘Smile a Little Smile for Me’ from 1969 by the British band The Flying Machine. It’s a song of lament for a girl named Rosemarie whose boyfriend has left her.
‘Make Me Smile’ was a hit by the horn-laden band Chicago in 1970.
Another song called ‘Make Me Smile Come Up and See Me)’ was a huge U.K. hit in 1975 by British band Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel. It was on their 1975 album The Best Years of Our Lives. It has been covered by over 100 other bands.
‘Smile Away’ is on Paul McCartney’s 1971 album Ram – his second post-Beatles solo album.
I think ‘New’ is the happiest McCartney song ever. It’s from his 16th solo album (of the same name) released in 2013.
Julian Lennon’s fifth album released in 1998 was called Photograph Smile. It includes the gorgeous ‘Day After Day’.
‘Sunday Smile’ is a beautiful reggae tune by Blondie from their highly overlooked 2011 masterpiece Panic of Girls.
A FEW LAUGHS
‘Laugh, Laugh’ was released in 1964 as the debut single by The Beau Brummels. The songwriter was their guitarist Ron Elliott. The record was produced by Sly Stone (when he was still known as Sylvester Stewart). It later appeared on their first album in mid-1965. Some of us can remember their guest spot on The Flintstones as The Brummelstones that year! The singer is not laughing because he is happy. He is scoffing at the irony that his girlfriend has met another guy.
The Bee Gees released ‘And The Children Laughing’ in 1965 on the B-side of their single ‘I Was a Love, a Leader of Men.
‘I Started a Joke’ is actually a tragic song written and sung by the Bee Gees in 1968. The lyric, “When I finally died, it started the whole world living” gave me chills as a kid. I found it eerie, thinking that an actual dead guy was singing! I wondered what horrible thing this person could have done to be feeling this dejected, and that he affected the whole world. Robin Gibb later said that it’s a spiritual song, perhaps about Jesus Christ.
David Bowie released ‘The Laughing Gnome’ as a single in 1967. The vocal effects (the creature was voiced by engineer Gus Dudgeon) sounds more like a chipmunk than a gnome. The lyrics implement word-play about the word ‘gnome’. (“You look like a Rolling Gnome…”) Bowie falls down laughing at the end of the song, when the gnome is incorporated into his life, earning money by writing prose for radio shows.
Watch a cool claymation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Oet1pKb0Vo
‘The sad song, ‘Laughing’ by The Guess Who appears on the Canadian band’s 1969 album Canned Wheat. Speaking of the Bee Gees, I always thought this song had a Brothers Gibb vibe – both melodically and stylistically.
Sonny Bono wrote a wonderful Dylanesque song ‘Laugh at Me’ (released as a single in 1965 under the name ‘Sonny’ without Cher). Sonny wrote the lyrics about being thrown out of a restaurant because of the hippie clothing that he and Cher were wearing. This also features The Wrecking Crew and Sonny’s own ‘wall of sound’ production after years of working with Phil Spector. Mott The Hoople did an amazing epic version on their debut self-titled album. A cab driver told me that he once had Sonny Bono as his passenger. He asked Sonny what he thought of Mott The Hoople’s version, and he said it was fantastic!
Listen – Sonny: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRFYNlT8PmY
Listen – Mott The Hoople: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtBwSDBrwew
Listen – Ian Hunter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9VNI-8FBk4
Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett recorded his first solo album, The Madcap Laughs in 1968. It was released in 1970 (U.K.) and in1974 (U.S.A.). The track ‘Octopus’ was also titled ‘The Madcap Laughs’.
The Steve Miller Band released The Joker album, and the single of the same name in 1973. This borders on reggae, and famously uses a prominent slide guitar. This blatantly copies Allen Toussant’s song ‘Soul Sister’ in every way.
The band Ultravox released their second album titled Ha Ha Ha in 1977 with an atmospheric track called ‘Distant Smile’ which rocks out in the 2nd half.
GLAD ALL OVER!
‘Glad All Over’ was recorded and released by Sun records and released by Carl Perkins in 1957. The song was featured in the film Jamboree. The Beatles recorded the song twice in 1963.
A different song titled ‘Glad All Over’ was a single from the debut album of the same name, written and performed by The Dave Clark Five. It was the first “British Invasion” hit other than The Beatles to reach No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart in 1964. Billy Fury also covered the song.
Listen – The Dave Clark Five: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yvmaurvf98
Listen – Billy Fury: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_xbBuBLCR8
Glad All Over is also the title of the sixth album by Jacob Dylan’s band, The Wallflowers released in October 2012.
‘I’m So Glad’ by Cream is from their 1968 album Fresh Cream. It’s a cover of the Skip James 1931 version of an old Delta blues spiritual. Deep Purple also recorded the song on their first album Shades of Deep Purple.
Listen – Cream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hSiqy9v9FM
Listen – Deep Purple: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSTJVTpUbgA
‘(Sing if You’re) Glad to be Gay’ was released in 1978 by The Tom Robinson Band was one of the first gay anthems. It condemns society for homophobia and for the way that gays are treated.
I’ll end with ‘Real Good Time Together’ – since this is probably the happiest song that Lou Reed has ever written. This was originally played with The Velvet Underground as ‘We’re Gonna Have a Real Good Time Together’, but was omitted from their Loaded album. (Check out the Another View compilation from 1986). The song appears on Lou’s 1978 album Street Hassle which gave us the binaural experience! Patti Smith performed this live many times.
Listen – The Velvet Underground: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GIK7mKN5Sg
Listen – Lou Reed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5fPi2xDYBA
Listen – Patti Smith: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBfg__G0V9E
Read my story about Lou’s album Street Hassle:
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