Music can make you happy; dancing to it is even better. In praise of old songs.
What are your all-time favourite songs?
If you are over 25, did you first hear those songs recently or – as I suspect – did you hear them in your teen years or early ’20s?
I am intrigued that the usual lists of things that make people happy, such as family, friends, work, wealth, health, freedom, personal values, and beautiful environments, do not include music or the arts (bold italics are links to other posts on this site).
To hear music is a profound human need; the impact on your wellbeing can be sublime.
So I was fascinated when writing my recent blog How to stay sane: never take yourself too seriously, featuring the wit and wisdom of Deep Purple, to explore my old collection of singles. What were the first I ever acquired?
To be honest, I am not certain. My singles were once mixed up with the larger collection of my elder brother (who I believe I remember bringing home “She Loves You” by the Beatles in 1963); and have been culled over the years, including by my giving some to my daughter for her new-fangled vinyl record player.
Leaving aside these quibbles, the oldest singles now in my collection, in reverse order of antiquity, are:
6. Paranoid, by Black Sabbath (1970)
5. Give it to Me, by the Troggs (1967)
4. Snoopy vs the Red Baron, by the Royal Guardsmen (1967)
3. What’s new Pussycat? by Tom Jones (1967)
2. Matthew and Son, by Cat Stevens (1966)
No. 1: Bachelor Boy, by Cliff Richard (1963).
Thoughts on music and happiness:
(i) listening to music from my early life, or indeed more recent stuff which hits the spot (step forward, Uptown Funk feat. Bruno Mars), gives me immense pleasure;
(ii) I often wonder whether the messages contained in music subconsciously influence behaviour. For example, Bachelor Boy (the link leads to an excerpt from the film “Summer Holiday” where Cliff sings the song) appears to advocate the state of bachelorhood as desirable (“son, you are a bachelor boy, and that’s the way to stay…”). Did this, and countless other music and movies (from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Free Bird to Casablanca) influence my attitude to relationships? Discuss;
(iii) the digital revolution has made listening to music easier. But is there a disconnect between the end of music “ownership“, where we bought vinyl, CDs or downloads, and our appreciation of that music? If you subscribe to Spotify or Apple Music, and trust them to choose the next song for you from a whole world of music, does it diminish how you appreciate, or connect with, the song, compared to choosing it yourself? So far I have resisted both services on the grounds that listening to them is like going back to the ’60s and listening to the radio – except that you have to pay for the privilege.
Researching this blog has turned up some awesome links. I have to share:
- Cliff Richard singing “The Young Ones” (“young ones shouldn’t be afraid… to live, love, while the flame is strong, ‘Cause we may not be the young ones very long…”);
- this alternative version of “How Summer Holiday should have ended“.
Enjoy. And if you want to make me happy, do check out my novel Blood Summit and my Seven Hotel Stories. Even clicking on the reviews (“Helpful”) will make me happy. Reading the two books may make you happy, too.