Inauguration Special: 10 Songs to Assuage the Blues

For those of us who are feeling a little let down by the recent elections, music is a way to provide some solace and buoy our spirits. This week’s “optimist playlist” is an attempt to do that. To set the tone of the show, we begin with a stirring 1991 release from the gospel group Sounds of Blackness and their song “Optimistic.” Then the magnificent classic from Bob Marley, “No Woman No Cry,” is next. We follow with an early 60’s pop song from the all-female group The Shirelles.

Bobby McFerrin is next, with his massive 1988 hit, “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” When I visited Borneo in 1989, everybody in Sarawak already knew the song. A possible progenitor of “Don’t Worry” follows–Slim Gaillard‘s “Make it Do.”

No optimistic theme would be complete without a Frank Sinatra classic, and we hear “On the Sunny Side of the Street.” We pair it with an old hillbilly song, “The Sunny Side of Life,” performed here by The Strange Creek Singers.

Wry words of wisdom come from the late great Mose Allison, with “I Don’t Worry About a Thing (because I know nothing’s going to be all right).”  Fake news is the topic of the next song, “The Sports Page” from David Frishberg, who recorded this album in a nice former boîte, now long shuttered, The Vine Street Bar & Grill.

Classic Johnny Mercer wraps up the playlist this week, with a reminder to “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive.”

Rhythm Planet Playlist for 1/20/17:

  1. Sounds of Blackness / “Optimistic” / The Evolution of Gospel / Perspective Records
  2. Bob Marley / “No Woman No Cry” / Legend / Island Records
  3. The Shirelles / “Mama Said” / Best Of / Ace Records UK
  4. Bobby McFerrin / “Don’t Worry Be Happy” / Simple Pleasures / EMI Manhattan
  5. Slim Gaillard / “Make It Do” / Laughing in Rhythm / Verve
  6. Frank Sinatra / “On The Sunny Side of the Street” / Capitol Years / Capitol Records
  7. The Strange Creek Singers / “Sunny Side of Life” / Strange Creek Singers / Arhoolie Records
  8. Mose Allison / “I Don’t Worry About A Thing” / Best of Mose Allison / Atlantic Records
  9. David Frishberg / “The Sports Page” / Live at Vine Street / Fantasy
  10. Johnny Mercer / “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive” / Collectors Series / Capitol Records

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Tom Schnabel