We're in weird, uncertain times. There's no doubt about that. We're living in the midst of what has been labeled by the World Health Organization as a global pandemic. And, to make matters worse, we're seeing unemployment begin to tick up due to people losing their jobs as service industries begin losing patrons. Where are those patrons? Well, we're inside. We're wondering what comes next. And, many of us turn to music in times of happiness, grief, and every emotion in between.
I was sitting around yesterday trying to work (it's a little hard to focus these days) and a friend asked if I had any uplifting music recommendations. It got me thinking- we could all use a positive jams list. So, I am going to start this thing off with my 10 favorite positive, uplifting songs. Go ahead and let me know what songs you turn to in the comments or via twitter (@rnrmeanswell) and let's get positive here. Also, side bar- if you're struggling with this, please reach out to loved-ones and friends or even me via Twitter. We'll get through this. In the meantime, wash your hands and practice social distancing to flatten the curve!
10- Frank Turner- I Still Believe: A treatise on coming together over the universal language of Rock and Roll. If that doesn't scream positivity and inclusivity perfectly, I don't know what does. Frank Turner puts out some impossibly positive music for any occasion, but this is the one I always go back to in order to bring myself back down to earth. "Remember folks, we're not just saving lives, we're saving souls and we're having fun!" I will forever smile at that line.
9- Lucero- Sounds Of The City: For a band that is known for heartbreakers and drunken ballads, this song is a real barn-burner about falling in love. From the organ to the horns, this song incorporates all the happy sounds. And, falling in love is always a good memory. Yeah, sometimes it might not end well, but that initial falling is a hell of a feeling. This song evokes that feeling of falling in love, dancing drunkenly, and the white noise that seems to fill your ears when that person is around you and everyone else is drowned out.
8- J Roddy Walston & The Business- Don't Break The Needle: Not much to say here except if you don't find yourself movin’ and shakin’ during the chorus, maybe you just need to turn it up!
7- The Hold Steady- Stay Positive: The ultimate positive band, in my mind. Even their bummer songs have some glimmer of hope. And this song is the one feels like the song we should turn to in order to feel better about things to come. You gotta stay positive.
6- Alabama Shakes- Hold On: Another self-explanatory song. I mean, the song is killer, it completely rocks, and it has a really simply message. That message is to just hold on, you'll get through it. When this song came out a few years ago, I think I listened to this song more than any other song that year. And what better time to crank this one up.
5- Professor Longhair- Tipitina: I'll be honest, Professor Longhair pretty recently came into my orbit and damn I'm glad he did. This song, which is what the famous music club in New Orleans is named after, is a straight boogie. The Professor knows how to get folks moving and with this non-sensical (but it makes so much sense) song, go ahead and forget all your troubles of the day.
4- Japandroids- Adrenaline Nightshift: When I think of albums that make me smile just thinking of them, Celebration Rock is usually the first one to come to mind. The album is full of fast-paced, fist-pumping, sing-along songs. There's no better album to feel alive to. And this is the one song that exemplifies the album the best. "There's no high like this!"
3- Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires- Dirt Track: I dunno if there's any song that takes me back to the sweltering days of my Southern Summer days more than this one. That dirty, swampy guitar and back beat practically drip humidity. Not to mention the song's whole premise is just to keep it moving. Don't give up! So, I highly recommend cranking this one up as loud as possible and boogie like hell during the breakdown. Can't tell y'all how many times I've done that. Damn, I love this band.
2- Glossary- Trouble Won't Last Always: This is the first song I thought about when my buddy asked me about positive songs. Glossary is also one of those bands who really seemed to excel at the positive song. It seems like something a little hard in the whole Americana/Country genre, but they nailed it. And, this song epitomizes everything we all love about Glossary. Go ahead and listen to the whole album this song is from, Long Live All Of Us. That's it, that's what it's all about. I'll let Glossary sum up my feelings completely, "When trouble comes around, Like it surely will, Remember you were happy once, And you can be happy still."
1- Hank Williams- I Saw The Light: There's something about Hank that always makes me smile, no matter how dark the song. Maybe it's the fact that he is by far and away my 92-year old Granddad's favorite musician. Maybe it's the fact that I find something new to love about Hank with every listen of every weird collection of music. But, nonetheless, I smile. And the one that makes me smile the most is I Saw The Light. Whether or not you're religious, there is something comforting about a Spiritual song. Hank nails this one with a cathartic wail. I think his version on The Complete Health and Happiness Recordings is the best version. It's uplifting, his voice is like a whip-crack, and the Drifting Cowboys sound like they are enjoying themselves (probably one of few times they did). Find whatever light you want to find and focus on that.
So there you have it. My favorites. These can, and probably will, change over the next couple of weeks. I hope you enjoy these and you show me a few I should add to my list. Until next time, keep it on the dirt track.