What are some upbeat songs by happy, playful musicians?
October 12, 2012 6:14 PM   Subscribe

I love songs of any musical genre that feature multiple musicians sitting in a room together, playing upbeat music, and clearly having a very good, very playful time doing so. The musicians’ pleasure is infectious, and I can listen to these songs on "repeat" endlessly. Can you recommend some songs like this? (Examples within.)

Jimmy Fallon, Carly Rae Jepsen & The Roots' performance of "Call Me Maybe", Afroman's "Because I Got High", and Ben Lee's "Catch My Disease" are all fine examples of the sorts of songs that I have in mind.

There may some unifying quality of these songs that I am not capturing properly in my description of them what—I'd certainly be happy to hear suggestions of what else it is about them that makes them so much fun.
posted by waldo to Media & Arts (51 answers total) 71 users marked this as a favorite
There's a hidden track on Cracker's Kerosene Hat that is an extemporaneous jam of the entire band singing along to an acoustic-only version of the title track. It very quickly becomes a celebration of the inside jokes the members of the band share and oh yeah, their shared love of music. Here come ol' Sorbet Head...
posted by infinitewindow at 6:32 PM on October 12, 2012

Great question! I, too, am a big fan of that intangible quality of certain recordings that you speak of.

The Faces - Stay With Me
Sam Roberts - Brother Down
Lykke Li - I'm Good I'm Gone
posted by wats at 6:42 PM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think this playfulness and infectious enthusiasm is also what makes live (and possibly recorded?) a cappella performances are so fun to attend.
posted by roomwithaview at 6:44 PM on October 12, 2012

Response by poster: Now that you mention it, roomwithaview, I do adore a capella, both in the contemporary sense (The Bobs, Straight No Chaser) and the literal sense (African groups Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Mahotella Queens and—especially!—roots black gospel like Bright Light Quartet, the Swan Silvertones, James Cleveland, and the Golden Gate Quartet), and I think you're right about why I enjoy that, too. I never connected those dots before!
posted by waldo at 6:49 PM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I sort of doubt this is what you're looking for based on your examples, but this is what your question brings to mind.
posted by Dr. Send at 6:57 PM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

For me the entire first album by Blind Pilot expresses that musician's pleasure. I don't know how they did that in a studio. For one song, try "The Story I Heard".
posted by sudama at 6:57 PM on October 12, 2012

This fits the description
posted by jclovebrew at 6:59 PM on October 12, 2012

Best answer: A lot of Nicki Bluhm's Van Sessions have that quality for me. They aren't necessarily overtly playful, but they're definitely having a good time with the goofiness of the situation and instruments.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 7:05 PM on October 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

Van Sessions by Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers

They don't quite match the level of playfulness as in your examples but there is something inherently playful about playing stripped down arrangements on little instruments in a van. And they're all really good.

On preview, yeah that.
posted by Balonious Assault at 7:06 PM on October 12, 2012

Anything upbeat by Canada's Great Big Sea. They call their music a "kitchen party."
posted by Joleta at 7:09 PM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I love the DVD of Springsteen recording the Seeger Sessions. It's great music and they seem to be having a fucking blast.

posted by purenitrous at 7:23 PM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thrift Shop by macklemore. lyrics have swearing.
posted by HMSSM at 7:23 PM on October 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

The two albums by The Travelling Wilburys are almost exactly that. A bunch of (great) musicians getting together and playing for fun.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 7:27 PM on October 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

I love The Avett Brothers playing Springsteen's "Glory Days," and I think there's something about their first couple of studio albums that kinda fits what you're looking for, due to the lack of percussion, front porch instrumentation (banjo, guitar, bass), and backwoods shout-singing that's been a hall mark for them. Here's a song of theirs called "The Fall" I love, with G.Love in rehearsal from their tour bus.
posted by GamblingBlues at 7:29 PM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Came to recommend the Nicki Bluhm Vansessions as well.
posted by colin_l at 7:31 PM on October 12, 2012

Eyn Mol, a drinking song in Yiddish recorded by the Klezmatics, which, by the sound of clinking glasses, sounds like it may have been recorded at an actual drinking session. A capella unless you count pounding on the table.
posted by ostro at 7:33 PM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Old Enough might work for you?
posted by thrasher at 7:49 PM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Band and friends - "I Shall Be Released" (or anything from The Last Waltz)
posted by easy, lucky, free at 8:26 PM on October 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Re: "Van Sessions"—YES. Their odd seriousness isn't quite right, but as Balonious Assault points out, what they're doing is so inherently playful (e.g., "Don't Worry, Be Happy," a song that, appropriately for this question, I listened to first thing every single morning for two years of high school) that I can't help but know that they're having a lot of fun. I've been listening to these folks for the past 45 minutes now, and they're a blast.
posted by waldo at 8:30 PM on October 12, 2012

Ella and Louis Again - fantastic synergy between the two and one of my favorite CDs. Contains upbeat and funny songs, you'll already know most of them. Probably.

This is the follow-up to their first collaboration, Ella and Louis, although I don't like the song selection on that CD as much.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 8:34 PM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hat-Shaped Hat, by Ani DiFranco and company?
posted by purpleclover at 8:47 PM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros' Tiny Desktop Concert at NPR. In fact, that whole series is a rich seam to be mined.
posted by arcticseal at 8:54 PM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Seconding Edward Sharpe et al.

And David Lindley has always inspired that kinda thing (be patient, wait for it).
posted by bricoleur at 9:18 PM on October 12, 2012

Ryan Adams's first solo album, Heartbreaker, begins with "Argument with David Rawlings Concerning Morrissey," and segues seamlessly into "To Be Young," and the former really sets the tone for the latter. I always feel like I'm missing something if I don't have to think about "Suedehead" before hearing Ryan count off "To Be Young."

Also there are a bunch of fun ones on the Beatles Anthologies - I like this version of "And Your Bird Can Sing" better than the one that made it to the record.
posted by kickingthecrap at 9:23 PM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

You Won't's entire Skeptic Goodbye album gives me this feeling. Try "Who Knew."

Also Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys' "Hole in the Boat."
posted by topoisomerase at 9:34 PM on October 12, 2012

I don't know if this is what you're looking for, but I feel that múm has an incredible energy and unbridled joy in their songs.
posted by Adamsmasher at 10:06 PM on October 12, 2012

Rusted Root in general. The Polyphonic Spree. The Dharohar Project (Laura Marling + Mumford and Sons).
posted by kcm at 10:14 PM on October 12, 2012

I really like the album that Stevie Ray Vaughn and Albert King made together. Elder blues statesman and young upstart jamming together. "Blues at Sunrise" features King telling a story about the song, during the song. The album is called In Session.
posted by silvergoat at 10:34 PM on October 12, 2012

I VERY highly suggest that you check out:

Edgar Meyer and Bela Fleck: Music for Two

Edgar Meyer, Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Thile, Stuart Duncan: The Goat Rodeo Sessions

I apologize for my laziness and a lack of links but if you listen to these albums on Grooveshark I believe it to be near impossible that you do not enjoy them.

Please, listen to them!
posted by masters2010 at 10:34 PM on October 12, 2012

Takashi Hirayasu and Bob Brozmann, "Jin Jin" (the whole album) -- actually, a lot of BB's collaborations meet your requirements.

Also the Taj Mahal album "Kulanjan".
posted by No-sword at 10:35 PM on October 12, 2012

I don't know where you can get these recordings (I have some on a mixed tape a friend gave me) but Swell Season and Liam O'Maonlai did some a great live show in Prague
posted by fshgrl at 10:45 PM on October 12, 2012

Edgar Meyer, Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Thile, Stuart Duncan: The Goat Rodeo Sessions

The NPR Tiny Desk Concerts are superb. Here's a bit from the above-mentioned goat rodeo.
posted by drhydro at 11:14 PM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm not sure it's quite what you're after, but your question brought to mind Si tu dois partir by Fairport Convention (it's on unhalf bricking, and possibly a Dylan cover?). Such a joyful song - I could listen to that over and over again!

Also, the bathroom sessions by the Barenaked Ladies are quite wonderful. If two guys with a guitar in their bathroom singing isn't fun, I don't know what is...
posted by jonrob at 12:32 AM on October 13, 2012

Oh, haha, I've just re-watched a few of the Bathroom Sessions, I recommend Some Fantastic as a good answer to your question :-)
posted by jonrob at 12:40 AM on October 13, 2012

Of Monsters and Men - Little Talks live
posted by candyland at 4:08 AM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm surprised nobody's mentioned The Pizza Tapes yet - David Grisman got Tony Rice and Jerry Garcia together to jam, and they recorded the sessions. Garcia's copy was stolen by a pizza delivery guy and was released in the wild as a bootleg for a while, and then Grisman cleaned it up and released it himself. There's lots of great chatter between tracks, you can tell what a good time they're having.

If you can find it, John Hartford's Aereo-plain is a wonderful album. Hartford's instructions to the engineer were "let the tapes roll, we don't want to hear playbacks until you've put the master together." - it has a very natural, comfortable feel to it.
posted by usonian at 5:54 AM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: It strikes me as a very good sign that about 20% of these suggestions are for songs that I'm familiar with, that don't quite fit my criteria, but that I love for precisely the described reason and hadn't realized it. :) Aero-plain, lots of Rusted Root (despite disliking everything about them, on paper), Kulanjan, and the few Tiny Desk Concerts that I've seen all elicit the same response. I've got a lot of listening ahead of me!
posted by waldo at 8:54 AM on October 13, 2012

The home demo of Don't Stop Til You Get Enough (complete with virtuoso bottle playing).
posted by bifter at 9:04 AM on October 13, 2012

Snarky Puppy.
posted by emelenjr at 9:12 AM on October 13, 2012

You might like this
posted by troywestfield at 9:15 AM on October 13, 2012

Two oldies: "Barbara Ann" by the Beach Boys and Here Comes My Baby by the Tremeloes.
posted by Rash at 9:37 AM on October 13, 2012

Cecilia by Simon and Garfunkel! Upbeat despite the subject matter.
posted by goo at 11:26 AM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I like this video of Walk off the Earth playing Somebody That I Used To Know, five people on one guitar. It's a ... subtler kind of good time, but it always puts a smile on my face.
posted by kostia at 12:57 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Lisa Hannigan - I don't know
posted by Okapi at 1:48 PM on October 13, 2012

This performance makes me feel as if I'm getting a glimpse into the secret world of mastery and playfulness.
posted by j_curiouser at 10:11 PM on October 13, 2012

Not sure if anyone has mentioned them yet but...

I love, love, love The Piano Guys. I just discovered them a week ago and I listen to their album over and over and over again - and it makes me so glad to be alive.
They have some more "haunting" pieces, but most of them are full of joy, and spunk (if you may say that about a song?), and some of their videos are laugh-out-loud funny.

Links here, here and here.
posted by M. at 5:41 AM on October 14, 2012

Béla Fleck has come up in this list already - I would second Music for Two and add one I just remembered, Tales from the Acoustic Planet Volume 2: The Bluegrass Sessions.
posted by usonian at 7:20 AM on October 14, 2012

This might be a little closer to comedy than music, but I think it still fits:

Tripod - Sweet Caroline
posted by randomnity at 6:44 PM on October 14, 2012

I'm currently loving "On Top of the World" by Imagine Dragons - upbeat, great lyrics, musicians having a good time...I think it fits your criteria!
Or how about Emeli Sande's "Next to Me"?

I am in awe at the talent of the twenty-somethings who have released their work either independently or through new labels. If this keeps up, the 2010's will be my favourite decade of music (and I've been listening to music for over forty years).
My current Youtube faves
Happy Listening!
posted by Raabster at 11:30 PM on October 22, 2012

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