By George Howland Jr.
Consider: rock concert fans dancing in ecstasy, a church congregation clapping along to a gospel beat, an audience’s spirits soaring to the rafters during a symphony. Such mood enhancers needn’t be occasional or come only with the price of a ticket. You don’t have to be in a concert hall to consciously use music to lift you out of despair or connect to your highest self. Instead, keep a playlist of Happy Tunes on your phone or your favorite streaming service.
When you’re feeling down, discouraged, degraded or detested, don’t let your mood keep you low. Instead, listen up!
“Hold On,” by Alabama Shakes
Singer Brittany Howard’s infectious gospel shouts combine with the complex, interlocking, rocking rhythms of guitar, bass, and drums to preach an irresistible message of determination.
“Playin’ with My Friends,” by B. B. King and Robert Cray
The king of the blues teams up with the mighty Robert Cray to transport you to a rollicking summer party with grilled catfish and smoking blues shuffles.
“Jabuticaba,” by Bebel Gilberto
Gilberto’s singing is so evocative that while listening you can practically taste the juicy white fruit of the jabuticaba tree.
“Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?” by Cassandra Wilson
The smoky-voiced Wilson wraps up the listener inside this warm, witty reading of the standard from the 1956 musical My Fair Lady.
“What a Wonderful World,” by Tony Bennett & k. d. lang
Bennett’s and lang’s voices glide and pirouette together as they sing the lyrics of this ode to the good things in life.
“Won’t You Ride in My Little Red Wagon?” by Willie Nelson
Willie and an all-star band romp through this country swing classic, combining the innocent fun of the lyrics with lightning-fast solos.