Music to stay alive to
October 29, 2013 2:54 AM   Subscribe

Looking for songs that make you want to stay alive. About how wonderful life is, how fleeting and how it should be cherished.

A death in the family has really focused me on the importance of living all I can in the moment. I'm looking for songs that celebrate being alive and give reasons to stay alive. Something in the vein of:

Ten Things - Paul Baribeau
Unwritten - Natasha Bedingfield

Songs that explicitly give you reasons to live, or make you feel like you can get the most you can out of life. Less about appreciating the every day and more about "You can live your dreams, get to it!" or especially "Here are 100 reasons life is worth living".
posted by 3491again to Media & Arts (56 answers total) 88 users marked this as a favorite
Wonderful World. Doesn't get much better than that.
posted by kinetic at 3:11 AM on October 29, 2013 [4 favorites]

A man needs to be told - The Charlatans
posted by freya_lamb at 3:22 AM on October 29, 2013

Fleet Foxes-Helplessness Blues. It's sad-beautiful but makes me happy
posted by shortyJBot at 3:23 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Dog Days Are Over - Florence and the Machine
posted by Ziggy500 at 3:24 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Reasons To Be Cheerful – Ian Dury and the Blockheads
posted by HandfulOfDust at 3:37 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Since HandfulOfDust beat me to my first choice...

Hey Man (Now You're Really Living) - Eels
posted by tsh at 3:38 AM on October 29, 2013

I got life - Nina Simone
Rainbow connection - the muppets
posted by bunderful at 4:05 AM on October 29, 2013 [5 favorites]

Golden - Jill Scott
posted by gnutron at 4:19 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Days Like This - Van Morrison.
posted by Cheese Monster at 4:20 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Camper Van Beethoven - Life is Grand
posted by hydrophonic at 4:33 AM on October 29, 2013

In a BBC Radio interview, Jeff Lynne talked about writing "Mr. Blue Sky" after locking himself away in a Swiss chalet and attempting to write ELO's follow-up to A New World Record:

It was dark and misty for 2 weeks, and I didn't come up with a thing. Suddenly the sun shone and it was, 'Wow, look at those beautiful Alps.' I wrote Mr. Blue Sky and 13 other songs in the next 2 weeks.

So, yeah... ELO's Mr Blue Sky.
posted by 0 answers at 4:49 AM on October 29, 2013 [6 favorites]

Do You Realise? - The Flaming Lips
posted by distorte at 4:56 AM on October 29, 2013 [6 favorites]

That goddamn Discovery Channel song (the "goddamn" is because I tear up every time I hear it).
posted by longdaysjourney at 5:06 AM on October 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

Everything by Frank Zappa would seem to embody a simple philosophy of life.

“If you end up with a boring miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your shit, then you deserve it.”
posted by three blind mice at 5:15 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

especially "Here are 100 reasons life is worth living".

Well, Lucinda Williams "Sweet Old World" is specifically this. The tune is mournful because it's a mourning over someone's suicide. But what she's saying is "See what you lost when you left this world" -- the song is basically an affirmative list of all the wonderful things in life, telling him why he should have stuck around.

And gotta add (though today it makes me sad) Lou Reed's "Perfect Day."
posted by third rail at 5:15 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Vapor by Little Big Town.
posted by brownrd at 5:27 AM on October 29, 2013

One Day Like This by Elbow
posted by like_neon at 5:39 AM on October 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

Thank You by Alanis Morisette
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 5:55 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Amy AKA Spent Gladiator 1, by The Mountain Goats.
posted by jameaterblues at 5:58 AM on October 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

Light and Day by the Polyphonic Spree does it for me.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:09 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Good Fortune - PJ Harvey
posted by h00py at 6:10 AM on October 29, 2013

Oh - and Great Big Sea's Ordinary Day.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:11 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm Alive, Michael Franti & Spearhead.
posted by topophilia at 8:12 AM on October 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

Teenage Fanclub: Ain't That Enough? ("Here a the sunrise - ain't that enough?")
Tom Waits: Come on Up to The House ("Come down off the cross, we can use the wood")
Reef: Come Back Brighter
Marissa Monté: Esta Melodia (a lyrically sad song in a joyful way)
Johnny Nash: I can See Clearly Now
Eels: Peach Blossom ("That was a long cold night, but then the sun came out, to thaw the ice")
Johnny Mercer: Accentuate the Positive
posted by rongorongo at 9:00 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ball Park Music's fun song "It's Nice To Be Alive" always does it for me.
posted by AgentRocket at 9:10 AM on October 29, 2013

Trip The Light
posted by Erasmouse at 9:21 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Jane Siberry's "The Life Is the Red Wagon." ("You pull for me, and I'll pull for you.")

The Smiths' "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out."
posted by vickyverky at 9:59 AM on October 29, 2013

The Polyphonic Spree...virtually everything. It's their mission.
posted by j_curiouser at 10:00 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

I really like "100 Years" by Five for Fighting.

It's a bit bittersweet but it makes me think of the beauty of a whole life lived.
posted by Boogiechild at 10:05 AM on October 29, 2013

I'm So Glad by Cream.
posted by Bruce H. at 10:22 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Perfect Life by Moby
posted by cnc at 10:35 AM on October 29, 2013

Daft Punk — Fragments of Time
posted by Tom-B at 10:43 AM on October 29, 2013


posted by black8 at 10:48 AM on October 29, 2013 [5 favorites]

Day One and Make You Feel That Way, both by Blackalicious.
posted by windykites at 10:53 AM on October 29, 2013

Sunset Coming On, by Damon Albarn and Afel Bocoum's Mali Music project. I prefer the studio version to this performance, but I can't find the studio version streaming for free - it's on Spotify, though.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:02 AM on October 29, 2013

Asaf Avidan - One day / Reckoning Song
posted by Tom-B at 11:06 AM on October 29, 2013

May I Suggest. (Way sentimental, may be a tearjerker.)

Borrowing Time.
posted by clavicle at 11:19 AM on October 29, 2013

Man on Fire--Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Something Good Can Work
--Two Door Cinema Club (RAC Remix)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:36 PM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Eels really, really works for this.

P.S. - You Rock My World
Fresh Feeling
Things The Grandchildren Should Know

Also nearly the entirety of Paul McCartney's "Flaming Pie" album.
posted by greenland at 1:43 PM on October 29, 2013

'The Middle'- Jimmy Eat World
posted by Rufus T. Firefly at 2:11 PM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Somewhere Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World straight from the enormous, fragile heart of Israel Kamakawiwo'ole.
One Love by Bob Marley
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 7:13 PM on October 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

I love these kinds of songs.

Litany, Guadalcanal Diary.
Love Is Stronger Than Death, The The. (Warning: May make you cry anyway.)
Here Comes the Sun, The Beatles. Of course.
Let's Live It Up, Brian Setzer Orchestra. On the waaaaay upbeat end, tho.
I Believe, Chris Isaak.
Kings, The Church.
Hello Cruel World, E.
posted by Smells of Detroit at 8:00 PM on October 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

Seconding "I'm Alive" by Michael Franti and Spearhead.
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:59 PM on October 29, 2013

Ace by Descendants is one of my go too's.
posted by hubs at 9:08 AM on October 30, 2013

Schoolin' Life by Beyoncé
Feeling Good - Nina Simone version or Michael Bublé version
Sha La La (Makes me Happy) by Al Green
Lovely Day by Bill Withers
Chasing Pavements by Adele (more on the bittersweet/melancholy side, but I think it still fits)
posted by wondrous strange snow at 10:39 AM on October 30, 2013

Love Is Stronger Than Death, The The. (Warning: May make you cry anyway.)

For a similar "uplifting by way of completely bumming you out" song from The The, Phantom Walls. (warning: cheesy slideshow ahoy)
posted by jason_steakums at 11:09 AM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thomas Dybdahl - Dice; pretty much my favorite music video, too. It's really worth watching.

The Weakerthans - Plea From a Cat Named Virtute; pretty much the most "get up off your butt and get back to living" song I know.

James - Bubbles; pretty much celebratory of life as a miraculous, ineffable affirmation of being.

The Kinks - Waterloo Sunset; pretty much my go-to "cheering up" song.

Patty Griffin - Rowing Song; pretty much the song that kept me going through young adulthood, about the loneliness and beauty of having your own perspective.

VNV Nation - Airships & Endless Skies; pretty much about awe and wonder and possibility, the former manmade, the latter natural.
VNV Nation - Arena; pretty much about mysticism and cycles and creative flow and all of us being the same Being Dreaming itself dreaming itself, embracing Life in every facet it offers, promises, suggests and hints.

Assemblage 23 - Ground & Skin; pretty much telling you, "Hey, being human is difficult, depression is hard, I could tell you stories but listen, never feel trapped"

Why? - Rubber Traits & Fatalist Palmistry; pretty much I have no real idea, but I think both songs are about kind of not exactly wanting to live but trying to find reasons and good things to keep you going; "always be working on a suicide note."

Millencolin - Fingers Crossed; pretty much a really fun song about getting things together and being optimistic and knowing that things might be difficult now, but they're gonna get better.

John Frusciante - Ricky; pretty much really comforting and encouraging you to be yourself in the face of awkwardness, anxiety, depression, disability, etc.; is he saying "and you can't function if someone decides who you are?" or "and you can function as someone besides who you are?" Or both? I've always liked the idea of both--your identity is yours alone to define and express.

Jens Lekman - Rocky Dennis' Farewell Song; pretty much you'll cry, but crying can be good and necessary and remind us why life is worth living; "Carpe diem."
posted by byanyothername at 6:22 PM on October 30, 2013

I'm not sure if these will be literal enough, but anyway:

Blessed to be a Witness - Ben Harper

Sleepyhouse and Change - Blind Melon

All I Ask - Crowded House (and I wonder whether She Goes On might suit you - it's beautiful, it feels hopeful to me, and it's about celebrating the life of an elderly relative, as far as I can tell.)
posted by Cheese Monster at 2:53 AM on October 31, 2013

I Love My Life - Todd Rundgren
posted by kristi at 10:47 AM on October 31, 2013

Float On - Modest Mouse

which I discovered through this AskMeta question about songs for a better future, which is collected in a Spotify playlist.
posted by librarylis at 8:35 PM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

You Can Never Hold Back Spring - Tom Waits
posted by rongorongo at 1:52 PM on November 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

All This Beauty by The Weepies
posted by exceptinsects at 9:24 PM on November 2, 2013

Late to the party, but my all-time favorite song is probably Airbag, the opening track to Radiohead's OK Computer.

Frontman Thom Yorke is famously car-phobic, having been in a serious accident with his girlfriend when he was a teen. That formative experience undergirds a lot of the songwriting on OKC -- the fear of technology, of devaluing life, of feeling it slip away meaninglessly. I love Airbag because it takes all that fear and angst and turns it inside out, into one of the most earnestly euphoric songs I know.

The song's written from the perspective of a survivor just after a terrible car accident, walking away from a jack-knifed 18-wheeler and the apocalyptic sounds of metal on metal (echoed in the warped screech of the guitar), wandering in a daze towards the neon-lit roadside. He's feeling not the shock of trauma but a rush of pure, exhilarating joy. Like drummer Ed Selway has said:
It's about the wonderful, positive emotion you feel when you've just failed to have an accident; when you just miss someone and realise how close it was and stop the car and just feel this incredible elation. There's something joyous about it - life suddenly seems more precious.
Or Yorke himself:
Has an airbag saved my life? Nah...but I tell you something, every time you have a near accident, instead of just sighing and carrying on, you should pull over, get out of the car and run down the street screaming, 'I'm BACK! I'm ALIVE! My life has started again today!'. In fact, you should do that every time you get out of a car.
When that exultant "I am back to save the universe!" sentiment gives way to the swirl of echoing electronica towards the end, buouying a growing chorus of contended sighs all the way to the crashing coda -- that's one of my favorite and most inspiring moments in modern music.

There's also a nice acoustic version (with alternate lyrics) if you're not a fan of the spacey rock sound.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:20 PM on November 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Hothouse Flowers, Don't Go.
posted by arcticseal at 7:18 PM on December 12, 2013

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