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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Are You Happy? Songs for Reflection and Discussion

posted by Catharine Hannay

Here are a variety of songs about feeling happy, looking on the bright side, and pretending to be happy while hiding our true feelings. 

Scroll to the bottom of the page for questions to spark reflection and discussion about our emotions and how we experience and express them.

And if you need a quick mood booster right now, check out the video of Pharrell Williams' song "Happy," featuring absolutely everyone at Deaf Film Camp. (Really.  I mean everyone.)  

Feeling Happy

Feelin' Good, Nina Simone
lyricsvideo of recording by Lauryn Hill (audio with album cover)
"Fish in the sea you know how I feel.  River running free you know how I feel.  Blossom on the tree you know how I feel.  It's a new dawn.  It's a new day.  It's a new life for me, and I'm feeling good."

Feelin’ Groovy (The 59th Street Bridge Song)
"Slow down, you move too fast.  You got to make the morning last.  Just kicking down the cobblestones.  Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy."

Felicity; Sungha Jung
video of Sunga Jung playing guitar
instrumental guitar music

Happiness, Ben Lee
lyrics; official video with home movies of children
"If you wanna fix a problem, then you gotta be happy.  Being happy is the only way out of the mess. If you wanna fix a problem, then you gotta be happy ‘cause happiness creates happiness!...  If you’re waiting for a reason, then you might never be happy ‘cause happiness creates happiness!"

Happy, Pharell Williams
lyrics; American Sign Language video by Deaf Film CampBritish Sign Language version by Charlotte's BSL
"Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof... Clap along if you feel that happiness is the truth."

Hurricane, The Vamps
lyricsofficial video
"Rolled out of bed today, and I feel brand new.  And I cannot explain, so let me show you.  I feel alive, and I'm gonna let me let it show.  Try keepin' me down I'm a full hot air balloon.  I'm gonna take this in my stride."

On Cloud Nine, Sungha Jung
video of Sunga Jung playing guitar
instrumental guitar music

Looking on the Bright Side

Accentuate the Positive, Sam Cooke
lyricsvideo of blues version by Dr. John (audio and album cover)
"You've got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative.  Don't mess with Mister In-Between."

Don’t Worry, Be Happy, Bobby McFerrin
lyricsvideo of adults and children around the world "Playing for Change"
"In every life we have some trouble. When you worry, you make it double.  Don't worry, be happy."

Smile, by Charlie Chaplin, John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons
lyrics; video of cover by Nicola Milan
"If you smile through your fear and sorrow, smile and maybe tomorrow you’ll see the sun come shining through for you."

Think Positive, Luke Britnell
video from The X Factor

"There's no hesitating. I know something's waiting. I know I'm gonna survive. When I feel I've had enough, and things get in my way, I know that times get tough, so I'm here to say, think positive."

Three Little Birds, Bob Marley
lyrics; video of cover by Two Worlds
“Every little thing gonna be alright.”

Trying to Hide Our Feelings

Blackout, Garbage
lyrics; video of live performance 
"Keeping my thoughts under wraps tonight.  Keeping my feelings to myself.  I'm already broken hearted, so let's get this party started... Try not to think, be cool, be calm, be fake.  Dumb yourself down, numb yourself out."

I am a Rock, Simon and Garfunkel
lyricsvideo (audio with album cover)
“A rock feels no pain, and an island never cries.”

I Smile to Hide the Pain, Phil Muriel
video with lyrics
"I smile to hide the pain.  I smile to hide the fear.  I smile to hide the rage.  I smile to hide myself."

I’m Not Well: A Song About Hiding Your Real Emotions, Cullen Cochran
youtube video with most of the lyrics
“I hope they never see the real me wrapped up inside this clown.”

Wonderful, Everclear
lyricsofficial video (children’s reaction to parents’ divorce)
“I just don’t understand how you can smile with those tears in your eyes when you tell me everything is wonderful now.”

Questions for Reflection and Discussion
  • How much of happiness is a choice, and how much does it depend on our circumstances?
  • Do you think it’s a good idea to always look on the bright side, or are there times when it’s appropriate to let ourselves feel sad?
  • Do you ever hide your true feelings?  Why do you do this?
  • How do you feel when other people hide their true feelings?
  • How does music affect your mood?  Are there any “happy” songs that make you feel sad or “sad” songs that make you feel happy? 
  • If you wrote a song about happiness or another feeling, what kind of music would you choose and what would you say?