A happy-but-not-sappy song playlist to stay positive through the quarantine


Now is not the time for Leonard Cohen or Nick Cave. Bob Dylan is even a little too dark if you’re looking for music to carry you through the din of this coronavirus quarantine.

On the other hand, you don’t want “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” either. Cheery pop music right now sounds as vapid as those Florida spring-breakers on TV who didn’t want to leave the beach three weeks ago.

Here’s what I came up with as a playlist to keep me upbeat for the long haul. This is actually a whittled-down version of a list I programmed last year after writing about “The Happiness Playlist,” a great memoir by Minneapolis rocker Mark Mallman about how he listened to only hopeful, positive tunes to carry him out of depression.

It may seem like a simple concept, but to Mallman and us Generation Xers — whose Walkman-ized youths were ruled by grunge, punk, goth, gangsta rap and metal — happy songs are not really part of our regularly scheduled programming. But we know all about the power of music in general.

1. The Kinks: “Better Things”

2. Allen Toussaint: “Yes We Can”

3. Staple Singers: “Heavy Makes You Happy”

4. Black Flag: “Rise Above”

5. Toots & the Maytals: “Pressure Drop”

6. Willie Nelson: “Pick Up the Tempo”

7. Beyoncé: “Formation”

8. Sleater-Kinney: “Dig Me Out”

9. Dixie Chicks: “Long Time Gone”

10. Sir Douglas Quintet: “Be Real”

11. Prince: “Mountains”

12. Kendrick Lamar & SZA: “All the Stars”

13. Lizzo: “Good as Hell”

14. Iron & Wine: “Call It Dreaming”

15. Lucinda Williams: “Blessed”

16. Trampled by Turtles: “Victory”

17. Soul Asylum: “Sometime to Return”

18. Bob Mould: “See a Little Light”

19. The Killers: “All These Things That I’ve Done”

20. Superchunk: “What a Time to Be Alive”

21. The Hold Steady: “Stay Positive”

22. Nina Simone: “Here Comes the Sun”

23. Bob Marley: “Coming in From the Cold”

24. Dr. John, Dirty Dozen Brass & Friends: “Time Marches On”

25. Cowboy Junkies: “To Live Is to Fly”

 

Hear this playlist via Spotify:

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