Music That Makes Me Happy

I talk about music a lot, exploring distinctions between art and craft, talent versus popularity, emotion versus complexity, etc. This is some of the music that makes me happy. Some of these cuts are actually “good” (i.e. they required real talent to create and perform) while others are just fun things that I like.

A Note of Advice: Don’t listen to these tracks on a phone or PC speakers. You need headphones with good bass response to appreciate many of these pieces.

“The Biggest Lie I Ever Told” by The Beautiful Girls, I’m not sure how to place this in a genre, but I always liked it

“Capital G” by Nine Inch Nails, I love a lot of their stuff but I think this one is the official theme song of the Trump Admin

“Runnin’ Thangs” by The Pimps, dedicated to the members of the U.S. Congress [LYRICS WARNING: Contains Profanity] and get some headphones please…

“Gross (Featuring Boom Pam)” by Balkan Beat Box. If I had known this music existed back in the high school, I might have kept playing the tenor sax

“Lautarium” by Shukar Collective, it’s like a funky prayer… seriously, use headphones

“Mojo” by Peeping Tom

“The Distance” by Cake, I think it’s because there are so many moving parts

“Sex and Candy” by Marcy Playground, a radio hit at the time, but I always liked it

“No One Loves Me & Neither Do I” by Them Crooked Vultures, because I like the plodding, mixed-meter form that starts at about 2:45

“Silent Ganges” by Maneesh De Moor, Indian groove by a Dutch guy, what?

“I Can’t Stand the Rain” by Cassandra Wilson, because it’s incredibly simple and wonderful

“Closure” by Jill Scott, I like a singer that delivers, and don’t be expecting no breakfast

“The Nearness of You” by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, because they were just the best

“Ten Cents a Dance” by Anita O’Day, my enjoyment of this horn arrangement reminds me I am still my music-professor-father’s son

“Bent Sahra” by Rachid Taha, not a complicated structure but I find it captivating

“1234” by Ozomatli, a little Los Angeles fusion

“Some Other Dog” by Mark Sandman, love the harmonica (I don’t often say that)

“Phantom (Redux)” by Shirt, most hip hop and rap seems musically facile to me, but I love this, maybe it’s the rapid-fire lyrics and the nearly Herbie Hancock-style arrangement… FAIR WARNING: Lyrics are really filthy.

“Battle Flag” by Pigeonhead, because it’s a solid funk tune with complicated counter melodies. This one gets a LYRICS WARNING too. They think that M-Fer is an all-purpose adjective… (and c’mon, you need headphones to hear the detail)

“Better Strangers” by Royal Blood, like much of my favorite music, a slow, heavy rock song meant to be played loud

“Sari Sky” by Naked Rhythm, something about this just gets to me

“For Your Attention” by Boxing Ghandis, funky, lots of bass, sax solo, gets me every time

“Triad” by David Crosby, a simple, emotional song, almost a tone poem

Chopin’s “Ballade No.1 in G Minor Op. 23” by Nikolai Demidenko, I know, but just close your eyes, slow your breathing, and listen

“In the Still of the Night” by Betty Carter, the album is called “It’s Not About the Melody,” and it’s also not about the lyrics. vocals are just another instrument

“Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” by Carla Bley, this is what real musicians do with a simple tune… turn it up and go along for the ride

“Stormy Monday” by Barbara Morrison, she just rocks

“Roforofo” by Fela Kuti, I find it kind of meditative

“Trinkit” by Beats Antique, I’m not sure but it might be the creaky door sound and the fact that the drums song like an old trash can, plus the general funkness

“Kidda” by Natacha Atlas, from Egypt via Belgium, Middle Eastern/Western blend

“In These Shoes?” by Kirsty MacColl, shut up, I like it

“The Day I Turned Into Glass” by Honeycut, I think it’s those funky sections with spare instrumentation that get me

“Nadie Te Tira” by Ozomatli, not my usual genre, but it’s infectious

“No Wow” by The Kills, another good test of your headphones

“The Big Come Down” by Nine Inch Nails, if this isn’t industrial rock, I wonder what would be

“Rollin’ and Tumblin’ ” by Jeff Beck, because hey, it’s Jeff Beck, and then add Imogen Heap vocals

“Left Hand Free” by alt-J, I know it’s silly but I like it

“Nicotine & Gravy” by Beck, it’s the multiple, slightly out of sync vocal tracks, and the crazy, discordant bridge that transitions into the cool alternate verse about 2 minutes in

“Augas de Marco” by Rosa Passos, because what’s more satisfying than a little light, vocal jazz from Brazil?

“Pra Não Parar De Sambar” by Aleh, just sing along folks

“Pannonica” by Tommy Flanagan, so nice, so simple

“Ellington’s Stay Horn” by the Art Farmer Quintet, I once said that listening to this is as close as I get to religion

“Sho Z-Pod Duba” by DakhaBrakha, a cool folk group from the Ukraine

“Vapor Trail” by Crystal Method, not usually into techno/house music, but I discovered by accident one day that this track is great for walking thru the NYC subway system… NOTE: it will be boring without headphones

“A Taste of Silver” by Until the Ribbon Breaks, I think it’s the heavy bass/drums that drop in at the beginning and the echoey vocal mix throughout

“Big Bad Wolf” by In this Moment, because I’m a sucker for loud tracks with heavy bass, and exquisite silences in between sections

“Satellite” by Nine Inch Nails, same reason as above, and please tell me you’re not listening to this on a cheap device. You need to feel the bass.

“Smooth Sailing” by Queens of the Stone Age, especially the 20-second run starting about 3:50, I just find the harmonics very satisfying

“Crazy” by The Kidneythieves, because I love the way they explode the old country classic

“Can’t Truss It” by Public Enemy, not a hiphop fan in in general, but always loved old school Public Enemy

“Feel Good Inc” by Gorillaz, just appealing pop (with that hiphop style spoken section)

“Equal Rights” by Peter Tosh, always loved the political validation in the verse about crime

“Your Sister Cried” by Mary Gauthier, a great sing-in-the-car song

“Adagio for Strings, 2nd mvt. Opus 11, wait for the exquisite silence, play it loud, close eyes

“Call Me” by Fat Kid Wednesdays (the last 90 seconds, when it seems like the vocals become the background for the sax)

“Itche Koutche” by Angelique Kidjo (the instrumental ending, starting about 4:30)

“Baby it’s You” by Smith, that scream at 2:30 just did something to my nascent, childhood awareness in 1969

“Jack You’re Dead” by Louis Jordan, a classic