its all right its ok
April 23, 2016 8:34 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for songs that are essentially anthems for maintaining the status quo: they are about just getting by in the world (Stayin' Alive by the Bee Gees); question the efficacy of pushing for change (Revolution by the Beatles); or promote watching (For What it's Worth by Buffalo Springfield), waiting (Waiting on the World to Change by John Mayer), and imagining (Imagine by Lennon) change instead of acting for it.

I heard the song Stayin' Alive on the radio on my drive home from work today, and now I want to make a playlist of songs in the same vein. Staying alive is just about the least you can do! I started brainstorming, but got stuck pretty quickly. I'd prefer to stay in the 60s through the early 80s.
posted by sockermom to Media & Arts (56 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Who -- Won't Get Fooled Again
posted by egregious theorem at 8:41 PM on April 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Wait For It, Hamilton Soundtrack
posted by matildaben at 8:44 PM on April 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think Free Fallin' by Tom Petty kinda fits that. Also one of my most favorite songs in the universe, Bittersweet Symphony by Verve.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 8:46 PM on April 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


Kinda-sorta: Leonard Cohen had a song about someone who doesn't challenge the status quo while Waiting For The Miracle To Come?
posted by backstitch at 8:47 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Seed Song by The Mountain Goats

the rain didn't come for one calendar year
so when the man with the sunflower seeds in his hand came here
we sent him away, we sent him away

the rain didn't come for twelve months more
so when the man with the seed catalogs darkened our door
we sent him away

and i know you're waiting for the ironic ending
and i know you're waiting for the punchline
and i know you're waiting for the rain to come by
so am i
posted by MsMolly at 8:52 PM on April 23, 2016 [7 favorites]


OK by Ani DiFranco.
posted by purpleclover at 8:53 PM on April 23, 2016


Sorry, missed your timeframe.
posted by purpleclover at 8:54 PM on April 23, 2016


This is definitely modern, but if you like strummy folk nonsense: Still, by Great Lake Swimmers.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 8:54 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Rolling Stones—"Street Fighting Man"
Otis Redding—"(Sitting On) The Dock Of The Bay"
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:55 PM on April 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


Oops. I missed the time constraint too. Sorry.
posted by MsMolly at 9:00 PM on April 23, 2016


"What difference does it make" by the smiths could be interpreted this way.
"No surprises" by radiohead works but does not fit your timeline.
posted by seesom at 9:11 PM on April 23, 2016


"The Waiting" is probably a better Tom Petty for the theme. Also, Feeling Alright, Joe Crocker feels relevant. Babylon by David Gray (not quite old enough). Jack Johnson is also too new but has "sitting waiting wishing".

Edit to add : Colin Hays, "Waiting for my real life to begin".
posted by parkerjackson at 9:21 PM on April 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


The Waiting or It'll All Work Out by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
posted by cecic at 9:25 PM on April 23, 2016


This is fun.... Hope I'm on track: "Can't fight this feeling" by REO speedwagon.
posted by parkerjackson at 9:26 PM on April 23, 2016


The theme song from One Day At A Time (lyrics). (Not sure this would go on anyone's playlist other than mine :/ Catchy, though, imo). Oh, also the gospel song (same name as the tv show); here's Cristy Lane doing it.

Kinda-sorta: Leonard Cohen had a song about someone who doesn't challenge the status quo while Waiting For The Miracle To Come?

Oh yeah, also Everybody Knows (lyrics).
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:31 PM on April 23, 2016


Newer than your stated timeframe, but it's got kind of an older vibe: Float On by Modest Mouse
posted by spelunkingplato at 9:34 PM on April 23, 2016






Boys of the Summer
Don Henley
Hello It's Me
Todd Rundgren
Martha
(She keeps her heart in a broken clock, and it's waiting there, for me)
Jefferson Airplane
posted by Oyéah at 9:43 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Jackson Browne—"For Everyman"
Jimmy Buffett—"Margaritaville"
Tammy Wynette—"Stand By Your Man"
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:44 PM on April 23, 2016


Bob Dylan - Watching the River Flow
posted by AndrewInDC at 9:57 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


John Lennon, Watchin' the Wheels and Instant Karma
posted by FencingGal at 10:00 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Loudon Wainwright III Dreaming.
posted by parkerjackson at 10:01 PM on April 23, 2016


Crosby, Stills, and Nash, "Our House"
posted by FencingGal at 10:09 PM on April 23, 2016


Not sure if you're looking for optimism or pessimism specifically. These are the ones keeping to your general timeline that first came to mind for me:

Bruce Cockburn - "Waiting for a Miracle"
John Lennon - "Watching the Wheels"
Pink Floyd - "Comfortably Numb", maybe "Mother" as well
posted by sesquipedalia at 10:10 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


"Everybody Knows" Leonard Cohen is a pessimistic / fatalistic take on things but maybe fits your theme?
posted by Meatbomb at 10:22 PM on April 23, 2016


REM - "Wait" (early 80's)
Alex Keack - "Wait and See" (1960s instrumental)
The Banana Splits - "Wait 'Til Tomorrow"
posted by acroyear at 10:26 PM on April 23, 2016


Great stuff here so far, and I might have to expand my timeline a bit as I arrange a playlist! Thank you!

I think I am mostly looking for songs that sound optimistic about perhaps something better happening, but are actually really not optimistic at all. The incongruity of the message of the last line of Stayin' Alive with the tone of the song is really kind of wonderfully bothersome: "Life goin' nowhere, somebody help me, I'm stayin' alive."
posted by sockermom at 10:31 PM on April 23, 2016


Come on Up to to the House--Tom Waits.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:45 PM on April 23, 2016


Grateful Dead, Touch of Grey
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:57 PM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Waiting For the Great Leap Forwards by Billy Bragg ticks (almost, its from 1988) your boxes, I think, and is very catchy. ("Here comes the future and you can't run from it / If you've got a blacklist I want to be on it /It's a mighty long way down rock 'n roll /From Top of the Pops to drawing the dole")

on the subject of Billy Bragg A New England also fits your bill. ("I don't want to change the world/ I'm not looking for a new England/ I'm just looking for another girl")

More Leonard Cohen: Democracy which a lot of people read as very positive but when you listen to the lyrics is much more ambivalent ("I'm sentimental, if you know what I mean/I love the country but I can't stand the scene/And I'm neither left or right/I'm just staying home tonight/ Getting lost in that hopeless little screen")
posted by zingiberene at 12:26 AM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Country music of that era is a goldmine of "it aint' perfect but it's mine" type songs:
Jolene by Dolly Parton
Sunday Morning Coming Down by Kris Kristofferson. Heck, most of his songs.
Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town by.. someone? Kenny Loggins?
posted by fshgrl at 12:34 AM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Patty Griffin "Standing"
Tom Waits "Hold On"
posted by salvia at 1:15 AM on April 24, 2016


I imagine Bruce covers this theme in spades, but all I have off-hand is Dancing in the Dark. (It's 3:30 am here—perhaps I'll do better when I'm awake.)
posted by she's not there at 1:36 AM on April 24, 2016


Extraordinary Machine by Fiona Apple, on the face of it this is about dealing with lifes slings and arrows and managing to cope with everything, but then at the end you think 'why did you need to write a whole song about this?' theres just a tiny sliver of doubt running through it.
posted by Lanark at 2:18 AM on April 24, 2016




Some of these will maybe work for you. A few of them don't fit your time constraint.

I'm Alright - Kenny Loggins
Rainbow Connection - Kermit the Frog
Finale: The Magic Store - Muppets
Let the Music Play - Shannon
My Life - Billy Joel
Ordinary World - Duran Duran (1993)
What I Am - Edie Brickell & New Bohemians
Circle - Edie Brickell & New Bohemians
Freedom 90 - George Michael
Bad Reputation - Joan Jett
Tomorrow - Annie Soundtrack
Isn't it Time? - The Babys
Every Time I Think of You - The Babys
In Your Room - The Bangles
I Feel Fine - The Beatles
I'm on Fire - Bruce Springsteen
Glory Days - Bruce Springsteen
Once in a Lifetime - Talking Heads
Tom's Diner - Suzanne Vega
Hold the Line - Toto
Hold On - Wilson Phillips (1990)
Material Girl - Madonna
Break My Stride - Matthew Wilder
You Get What You Give - New Radicals (1998)
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 2:32 AM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Possibly Everything's Alright from Jesus Christ Superstar, though it's got both perspectives in it.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 3:30 AM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


"End of the Line" by Traveling Wilburys
posted by areaperson at 3:42 AM on April 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


Bowie's Fantastic Voyage fits the bill nicely. "We'll get by I suppose..."
posted by merocet at 4:42 AM on April 24, 2016


Stevie Wonder, Don't You Worry Bout a Thing (Jon Legend's cover of it is also quite nice)
posted by kuma440 at 6:08 AM on April 24, 2016


Here's two from Peter Paul & Mary, one optimistic, one not so much:

Day Is Done
The Great Mandala
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:31 AM on April 24, 2016


Don't Change - INXS
posted by prinado at 9:02 AM on April 24, 2016


Paul Simon, American Tune
posted by Daily Alice at 10:26 AM on April 24, 2016




The Beatles - Let It Be
posted by marsha56 at 3:09 PM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


"Waiting for my Real Life to Begin" by Colin Hay might fit though it's more a critique of watching and waiting, I think.
posted by jzb at 4:26 PM on April 24, 2016


Rise Up- Andra Day
The sun is rising- Brit Nicole
I've got the world on a string- Frank Sinatra
You Can't always get what you want- Rolling Stones
posted by Whatifyoufly at 5:28 PM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah, someone up thread reminded me, how about 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton? That's a sing-it-at-the-top-of-your-lungs-in-the-car-get-embareassed-at-stop-lights kind of song!
posted by WalkerWestridge at 6:09 PM on April 24, 2016


Four Non Blondes "What's Up"
posted by daisystomper at 6:16 PM on April 24, 2016


Autobahn by Kraftwerk, 1974. You just keep on driving. English translation:

We drive, drive, drive on the motorway
Before us is a wide valley
The sun shines with gilttering rays
The road is a gray band
White stripes, green edge
Now we are switching the radio on
From the speaker sounds:
We drive on the motorway...

posted by forthright at 6:51 PM on April 24, 2016


The Kinks, The Village Green Preservation Society

(title track especially but also others on that album--Last of the Steam-Powered Trains, People Take Pictures of Each Other, Village Green, probably others I'm forgetting)

Some other Kinks come to mind too:
Waterloo Sunset
A Well-Respected Man
posted by miles per flower at 7:12 PM on April 24, 2016


Oh yeah, also: Talking Heads, Don't Worry About the Government
posted by miles per flower at 7:14 PM on April 24, 2016


The Kinks - Sunny Afternoon
posted by to recite so charmingly at 9:28 AM on April 25, 2016


I Hope That Somethin' Better Comes Along - The Muppets
Deadbeat Club - B-52s
All She Wants To Do Is Dance - Don Henley
Take It Easy - Eagles
posted by SisterHavana at 7:41 PM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Wallflowers - One Headlight
I'm so alone, and I feel just like somebody else
Man, I ain't changed, but I know I ain't the same
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 7:28 PM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


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