Saturday, December 26, 2015

25 Songs of Good Cheer

Here are 25 songs of good cheer from Brazil, the U.S., the U.K., and elsewhere. This list started when I was playing some of my favorite music for a friend's daughter here in Brazil, where I live. She only liked the Brazilian funk carioca genre and was obsessed with the funk/pop singer Anitta, who is currently at the top of the charts. I played some American, U.K., Brazilian and other songs for her that had great melodies, were lively, or were a lot of fun. She didn't like any of my selections. It had to be funk carioca, preferably Anitta. However, my own kids enjoyed the music, especially the Beethoven and Queen. I ended up with a selection of mood altering music that I find particularly uplifting, invigorating, inspiring or sweetly transcendent.

1. Flash Mob: "Ode to Joy" (Beethoven Symphony no. 9)
with the Vallès Symphony Orchestra from Sabadell, Spain

2. Queen, "We Will Rock You."
What would soccer fans in the U.K.
do without this stadium shaker?

3. Arlindo Cruz, "Meu Lugar" (Madureira), a beautiful song about his hardscrabble home neighborhood in Rio, full of camaraderie, "Ogum and Iansã," samba and beer, and sweat and struggle, as Madureira's residents "hope for a better world."

4. Paul McCartney, "Let it Be" (The Beatles)

5. Djavan, "Flor de Lis"

6. Peter Gabriel, "Solisbury Hill"

7. Elton John, "Tiny Dancer"

8. Bruce Hornsby, "That's the Way It Is"

9. Heart performs Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven."

10. Lenny Kravitz and Eric Clapton perform the Jimi Hendrix
version of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower."

11. Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" is a pop epic that has withstood the test of time (a few decades) as well as its use in Wayne's World. The lyrics have dramatic fragments that are fun to sing along with, even though as a whole they probably only made sense to Freddie Mercury. But the music -- what a feast!

12. Antonio Carlos Jobim and Miúcha perform "Samba do Avião,"
a love song to Rio de Janeiro and a song of joyful homecoming.

13. John Barry's "Goldfinger" sung by Shirley Bassey

14. U2's "Beautiful Day"

15. Monty Python and Eric Idle's "Always Look at the Bright Side of Life." We all have to come to terms with death at some point, and this is the way that Monty Python has confronted mortality: with a relentless dark humor and good cheer.

16. Cat Stevens, "Peace Train"

17. Randy Newman's "I Love L.A."

18. Gene Kelly, "Singing in the Rain"
(from the 1952 Stanley Donen film musical that I
recommend as an antidote for mild depressions)

19. Joni Mitchell, "Chelsea Morning"

20. The Beatles, "Here Comes the Sun"

21. Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Samba de uma Nota Só."
One of his innumerable bossa nova standards.

22. One of the best super groups ever, The Traveling Wilburys,
with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Jeff
Lynne and Roy Orbison, here perform "Handle with Care."

23. Paul Simon, "You Can Call Me Al"
Simon performs in Zimbabwe with the Graceland band
of South African musicians, including Ray Phiri (guitar).

24. Brian Wilson and a host of others, "God Only Knows"

25. B-52s, "Love Shack"
Oh, baby!


Read about Brazilian Music

The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova
and the Popular Music of Brazil

by Chris McGowan and Ricardo Pessanha (Temple University Press)
(the leading guide to Brazilian music in English;
available on Amazon worldwide)

by Chris McGowan
(interviews with iconic figures from Jobim
and Airto to Djavan and Gal Costa)


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