Can Music Be Happy and Good?

I started writing a piece about optimism and pessimism the other day, and it got me asking whether or not I even have happy music in my 36-day-long collection of songs.

Knowing that I could never go through all 36 days worth of music, I pulled a few that may or may not be happy.

Dresden Dolls — Good Day
I know it seems like I picked this song based on name alone. It took me a couple of listens to figure out whether or not it is actually happy, however. I kind of feel that it is more cynical than not happy? If that makes sense? It is basically an anthem about how strong someone is in the face of a brutal breakup that would potentially render someone uncontrollably depressed. So, a final verdict? If we are going on the A) B) options I have given myself, I would have to say happy.

Deftones — Teenager
Very symbolic, and alludes to tragedy instead of happiness. It is a song that seems to be about moving past pain and abandonment. To say that it’s pessimistic is undermining potential readings of what the poetry of this piece could be.

Deer & the Headlights — Sweet Talk
I fucking love this song. Not happy at all, and does not even pretend to be. Musically, it could be argued that it sounds “boppy” and aloof. The heartwrenching lyrics are about seeing an ex with a new lover for the first time since you separated. Juvenile? Very much, but a very relatable situation for most of us. What holds this song apart from most in the pessimism group is that it doesn’t really give the listener any sort of reprise, or even an alternate way of looking at the situation. Can I call it happy? Hell no.

Cursive — From The Hips
The most cynical song I think I have come across in my life. It is trying to make an argument that the pinnacle of human interaction is sex. The singer alludes to the idea that sex is the only time we are all truly honest and without alternative motives.

Braid — Do You Like Coffee?
I may be biased by my love for the black substance that is the subject of this song, but I would confidently put this in “optimism” pool. The song tells a tale about seeing someone for the first time in a long time. It could been seen as bitter-sweet, but still optimistic.

Livestalk & the Bodies — Pourvous
I actually forgot about this one until I asked a friend of mine about what they would recommend. I’ll probably get to their suggestion, but I want to point out the irony that one of, if not my absolute favourite song that I played on is incredibly happy-bordering-on-cute. (Don’t tell Kevo I called it cute). A song of love, confessing all manners of appreciation for all parts of the narrator’s partener. Plus, this song has the most amazing piano line written and did I mention that I love it and I played on it and I didn’t write the drum line but I wish I did am I rambling without punctuation I am so sorry.

Broken Bells — The High Road
As a fan of the bands The Shins, of course I came across this gem. The best parts of Danger Mouse cira 2010, and released just before Modern Guilt by Beck, this album combines and jangly guitar that The Shins were known for, and the trip-hop grooves that Danger Mouse produces so well. The name, and parts of the lyrics, lead one to believe that it is going to be a happy song. When you really listen to it, however, you notice that it is about someone burning out after living a great life. So, as most of the other songs on this list: cynical, at best.

The Fratellis — Flathead
EVERYBODY DANCE! FEEL HOW GREAT THE GROOVE IS! BEAT THE PISS OUT OF EVERYONE!
*ahem* This song is great. I will never get a bigger smile on my face than when I’m analyzing this one, but it hides a dark secret behind the bombastic chorus’ and bigger-than-life transitions. It’s alluding to the idea that people are two-faced at best, and horribly spoken about at worst.

The Junction — Untitled (Revised)
This song is not a great example of the album, but it remains one of my favourite pop songs of all time. I have a very hard time deciphering lyrics at the best of times, and this song is a whearwind of metaphors and complicated prose. I THINK that it’s happier than most, even though if fits very nicely in a dark sounding chasm.

The Tokyo Police Club — Bambi
This song is a coating of blunt opinions and a harsh tone over joyous celebration of youth. Maybe I am biased because of the fantastic keyboards coupled with how happy the keyboard player looked while they performed this one day, but I will forever see this as an optimistic song.

WHAT IS MY CONCLUSION? Happy lyrics are possible. Non-cynical lyrics are possible. Music is an expression of the musician’s soul, and it is easier to dwell on the horrible rather than the best of times. Hell, that Livestalk & the Bodies song is the only one out of the full album of fifteen that might be mostly unhappy.

Now, all of this conjecture is just that. I admit that I am horrible with figuring out lyrics meaning on the best of days. There are probably of happy songs. Hell, I didn’t touch ELO’s Mr. Blue Sky, Of Montreal’s entire catalogue, or C + C by Tom Vek.

2017

So long, you fucking year. I have had enough of you, and I have never had such ill will towards a year. Even the almost-year I spent in hospital was better than this one, on a political level.

I got married: that was the ONLY good part. Calling it a good part seems like a mild understatement.

So, yes: some of you know that I have been working on my next book. I am pretty sure I mentioned it somewhere in here (here being on this site) and it is going very well. I feel like I am getting close to the end of the first draft, though I am aware that I need to make a few tweeks and additions here and there. Some people have been fantastic enough to read it over and give me opinions. The overall verdict seems to be positive. Either that, or people are just afraid to say ‘give up and get a real job, cripple!’

Overall, I have put about 100 hours into writing so far. I have found old ideas buried deep on my hard drive that I am planning to flush out for the one after. That’s right: I am already planning the book after. Deal with it.

The one thing I am nervous about is my transitions in this new work are harsh, but they are meant to be. I like the sudden change in tone that I have achieved thus far, but I am afraid that, without explanation, it will be too jarring for readers. With that said, the few people that have read it over so far do not complain about that. I am being reminded over and over again that my spelling and grammar could be better. I think I speel well enough, but its hards to edits your own werk.

<insert crowd laughter here>

Other good things that happened this year include: me hitting 100 sales of You’re Not Dead (I really did not think that would happen) and the ten years since my last All Cut Up album came out. I feel that it is the most complicated recording I have made. (over the years, I have seen to have lost the album art. Anyone, for some reason, have it?)

So, let’s recap the good. Got Married, my first album reached the level of being retro, and I did better than I planned and independently selling my first book.

Now, the shitty things.

My best friend (Hank the cat) fell to his death in June.
I wound up in hospital on two occasions following two devastating seizures, the result of which was me being diagnosed as epileptic.
I hit rock-bottom financially and will have to declare bankruptcy in the new year.
Though not bad, music this year did not excite me like it did the year prior.
Willow (my new cat) climbs and destroys everything, thus Christmas will be without a tree this year if my wife and I cannot figure something out (I am writing this on the 19th and, therefore, do not know what is coming up for the season).

There are many more shit things, but even writing this is depressing the fuck out of me. I will schedule this for the last day of this year.

On the music note, I did not even pick up 10 albums that came out this year to make a top 10. I do not even have a 25 most listened to on iTunes because I played the same few songs over and over, and always listened to the whole album. (My list goes Braid, Braid, Braid, Cursive, Cursive, Gorillaz, Braid…)

OH YEAH! I started my Patreon back up recently. Please consider donating something. Also, I noticed that I have offered writing a story about combating dragons for donators who give $2 or more. I have not decided if that will be fighting against dragons, or dragons who fight. Write me and leave an idea of which direction I should go.