Songs That Make You Happy


First, a disclaimer: the premise of this post was ripped wholesale from one of NPR’s recent All Songs Considered podcasts. The idea was a simple one. It was a collection of songs, submitted by listeners that, for whatever reason, make the listener happy. What a premise. I’m not sure about you all (and I obviously invite you to let me know in the comments), but after listening to this podcast I realized that the songs that I tend to be most moved by are sad songs. Or serious songs. Songs about unrequited love, or love we’re scared to lose, or people we’ve lost or people we’re losing, or growing old or failing or the meaning of life or any other number of the unanswerable questions humans tend to ponder. They’re not necessarily songs that are inherently sad. But they are songs that make me sad. And they are the ones that, for some reason, I end up holding in highest esteem. And I think a lot of people are like that. Sometimes when we’re feeling bad the only thing that makes us feel better is feeling worse. Wallowing. We turn songs into comfort food. And I have eaten a lot of comfort food. I have songs for broken hearts and songs for dad’s fighting cancer and songs for dead friends. But the songs that make me feel happy? There are plenty of happy songs that I like. But songs that actively make me happy whenever I hear them? Quite a bit tougher.

I’m going to share a couple of the songs that make me happy. And because a song that makes you happy can have as much to do with the song’s content as it does with the context in which you hear it, I’ll include a short explanation. I really really really hope you guys and gals will share some songs that make you happy in the comments.

Song: Red Cave

Band: Yeasayer

Why it makes me happy: Hippie-vibe of sitar and bongo-backed group chanting about cave churches certainly doesn’t hurt. But the real clincher is the last lyric of the song: “I’m so blessed to have spent the time / with my family and the friends I love. In my short life / I have had so many people I deeply care for.” It’s tough not to be happy when you think about life like that.

Song: I’ll Believe In Anything

Band: Wolf Parade

Why it makes me happy: The combination of Arlen Thompson’s massive and unrelenting drumming and Spencer Krug’s sort-of-horrible-but-it-doesn’t-matter-because-I’ve-got-something-to-say style of singing with the line “I’ll believe in anything if you believe in anything” just gets me every time.

Song: The Most Beautiful Girl (In The Room)

Band: Flight of the Conchords

Why it makes me happy: When I’ve got the iPod on shuffle and this song pops up, it’s tough not to smile. Perfect timing and delivery on both the comedic and musical level. Firing on all cylinders.

Song: Don’t Worry Be Happy

Artist: Bobby McFerrin

Why it makes me happy: It’s not so much the song itself as it is the association. My dad used to be obsessed with this song. It seemed like it was the only tape he owned. In the summer when my sister and I were little, my dad would take the top off his little Suzuki jeep, put our overweight yellow lab in the back seat with me and my sister, and we would go to Baskin Robins for ice cream, Bobby McFerrin playing the whole way. It doesn’t get much better than that.

What songs make you happy?




  • Anonymoose

    Several years ago I had an idea for a compilation album of happy songs. They are few and far between, compared to sad and serious songs. We need more of them. Among the ones I like: “New Shoes” by Paolo Nutini, “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash, and, of course, “Happy” by The Rolling Stones.