Give me songs that are joyfully solemn or solemnly joyous
September 7, 2016 11:08 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for songs that lift your heart up, but in a... calming way? Examples of what I'm looking for would be Israel Kamakawiwoʻole's cover of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," Modest Mouse's "Float On," or maybe The Magnetic Fields' "The Book of Love." Something that wouldn't be out of place at a wedding OR a memorial service. A joyful solemnity is the best descriptor I can come up with for what I'm looking for. What have you got for me?
posted by MsMolly to Media & Arts (63 answers total) 72 users marked this as a favorite
 
Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," of course.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:16 PM on September 7, 2016 [6 favorites]






Imagine
posted by she's not there at 11:30 PM on September 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


Anything by:
Eva Cassidy "Fields of Gold," "Over the Rainbow."
Loreena McKennitt "Dante's Prayer," "Dark Night of the Soul."
Enya "Pilgrim," "Hope Has a Place," "Fallen Embers."
Also some things by:
Cyndi Lauper "Time After Time," "True Colors."
Stevie Nicks "Songbird," "Beauty and the Beast."
posted by TrishaU at 11:46 PM on September 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


Seasons of Love from Rent.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:47 PM on September 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


Lorraine Hunt Lieberson singing the "as with rosy steps..." aria from Handel's Theodora, recorded at Glyndebourne in 1997.
posted by jamjam at 11:56 PM on September 7, 2016


Fleet Foxes - White Winter Hymnal
posted by Leon at 12:09 AM on September 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


Crowded House "Don't Dream It's Over"
U2 "Wild Honey"
Bread "Guitar Man"
Elton John "Tiny Dancer"
The Beatles "In My Life"
posted by tackypink at 12:25 AM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


"Simple Gifts," the old Shaker song. (No particular arrangement to recommend, alas.)
posted by kwaller at 12:28 AM on September 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


The Impressions - People Get Ready
posted by Greener Backyards at 12:31 AM on September 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


I like the opening to Samuel Barber's violin concerto. It embodies warm sunshine and springtime for me.
posted by batter_my_heart at 12:36 AM on September 8, 2016


I prefer Jeff Buckley's arrangement of "Hallelujah," and I say this as a long time Cohen fan.

Also "Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd maybe.
posted by xyzzy at 12:40 AM on September 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Labi Siffre - Something Inside So Strong
posted by crocomancer at 1:17 AM on September 8, 2016


Magnetic Fields' Grand Canyon

Modest Mouse Lives

Lucinda Williams' Lonely Girls

REM Untitled

Some a little melancholy but there is a sweetness to them.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:35 AM on September 8, 2016


Ingrid Michaelson's cover of Can't Help Falling In Love
Dido - Look No Further
Nick Drake - Northern Sky
Simon and Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water
John Denver - Annie's Song
posted by hellopanda at 1:51 AM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Littlest Birds by the Be Good Tanyas.

Old Bike by Rob Cantor.

Almost anything by Elizabeth Mitchell -- This Little Light of Mine is a great example.

Finally, I can't decide whether or not to recommend Laura Cantrell to you. "Joyful solemnity" is a great description of her voice, but her lyrics are usually tinged with melencholy, which may not be what you want. Try When The Roses Bloom Again and if you like it, check out her other songs as well.
posted by yankeefog at 1:57 AM on September 8, 2016


The entire Hymns from the 49th Parallel from the incomparable kd lang
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 2:21 AM on September 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


REM feels like a rich vein here. Nightswimming / At My Most Beautiful

I Am Kloot - Fingerprints
posted by corvine at 2:24 AM on September 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Dream on by Christian Falk ft. Robyn
posted by tavegyl at 2:26 AM on September 8, 2016


The Cure - Remember
posted by pompomtom at 2:39 AM on September 8, 2016


Not an easy sort of song to write or perform. Some suggestions:
This Love Will Carry - Dougie Maclean
The Never Ending Happening - Bill Fay.
Northern Sky - Nick Drake
Something So Right - Paul Simon
Buzzin Fly - Time Buckley
Mirror Ball - Elbow
Life is Sweet - Natalie Merchant.
posted by rongorongo at 3:05 AM on September 8, 2016


Fiona Apple's Hot Knife.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 3:17 AM on September 8, 2016


The Kiss - Judee Sill (I would also say The Donor by her but it's maybe more insistent and solemn than joyful).
posted by terretu at 3:41 AM on September 8, 2016


Madman by Sean Rowe
posted by CMcG at 4:22 AM on September 8, 2016


Kathy's Song
Wade in the Water (I'm particularly fond of the Eva Cassidy version) - and lots of other songs with their origins in spirituals
Malaika, as sung by Angelique Kidjo
posted by ChuraChura at 4:35 AM on September 8, 2016


Day Is Done — Peter, Paul and Mary
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:07 AM on September 8, 2016


I think Gabriel's Oboe is both joyous and serious at the same time.

Also You Raise Me Up - covered by many people - here by Brian Kennedy. It's very powerful, and can feel sad but uplifting. I sang it at my mother's funeral and I always now associate it with sadness, but there is still something positive in the melody. I think it's an amazing song in that way, to convey all that.
posted by cornflakegirl at 5:18 AM on September 8, 2016


Wind beneath my wings? The rose?
posted by Hal Mumkin at 5:18 AM on September 8, 2016


"I can see clearly now" by Jimmy Cliff
posted by smirkette at 5:21 AM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I Feel Too Young to Die -- South San Gabriel
Hold On -- Tom Waits
All My Friends Are Funeral Singers -- Califone
Suzanne -- Nina Simone
Orphan Girl -- Gillian Welch
The Mess Inside -- Mountain Goats
Traveling Light -- Tindersticks
posted by batbat at 5:24 AM on September 8, 2016


And The Voyage by Christy Moore.
posted by cornflakegirl at 5:26 AM on September 8, 2016


Everybody Knows (River Song) - Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens
posted by Hypatia at 5:35 AM on September 8, 2016


Many tracks off of Songs in the Key of Life resonate on this level, at least for me. In particular, Love's in Need of Love Today, Joy Inside my Tears, As... etc.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 5:59 AM on September 8, 2016


Tom Waits version of Somewhere.
posted by carter at 6:02 AM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel.
Journey of the Sorcerer by the Eagles.
posted by tomboko at 6:12 AM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


And Johnny Cash and Fiona Apple do a terrific cover of Bridge Over Troubled Water.
posted by carter at 6:22 AM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I never know whether to feel hugged by or sad about Elbow's "Open Arms": "We got open arms for broken hearts/Like yours my boy, come home again." Maybe both? A rousing and comforting tune for sad moods.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:33 AM on September 8, 2016


MaMuse Hallelujah
posted by hydropsyche at 6:41 AM on September 8, 2016


Till the End of Time - DeVotchKa
Gravity Rides Everything - Modest Mouse
Ripple - Grateful Dead
Chicago - Sufjan Stevens
Astral Weeks - Van Morrison
Jesus Etc - Wilco
The Circle Game - Joni Mitchell

And a couple instrumentals:

Just Another Sucker on the Vine - Tom Waits
Midwest Gospel Radio - Yonder Mountain String Band
posted by treachery, faith, and the great river at 7:13 AM on September 8, 2016


Shape note tunes in major keys.
On phone, not sure how good this recording is but #178 Africa from the Sacred Harp is one of my favorites:
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=m7qCgxzxBdQ
posted by yeahlikethat at 7:19 AM on September 8, 2016


I would describe most of Mountain Goats as "joyful solemnity", especially The Sunset Tree, but in compiling this askme into a spotify playlist (available as a collaborative list here! - I started saving some songs and just started saving them all - 107 so far listed that I could find), I have to say the sheer variety of what people call joyful solemnity is diverse.

I now have on my morning playlist Gabe Dixon's All Will Be Well and Judy Collin's Bread and Roses which I would also call joyfully solemn.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 7:41 AM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


By Way of Sorrow - Cry Cry Cry

Why Walk When You Can Fly - Mary Chapin Carpenter

Company of Friends - Danny Schmidt

All That We Let In - Indigo Girls

And just about any arrangement of How Can I Keep From Singing? - I like this one.
posted by darchildre at 7:45 AM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Everest - Ani DiFranco
posted by purpleclover at 8:36 AM on September 8, 2016


Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen (aria from Brahms's Requiem).

Ich habe genug (first aria from Bach's cantata Ich habe genug, which is in full at the link...you might also find the second aria "Schlummert ein" to fit your requirements)

The Police, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
posted by praemunire at 9:22 AM on September 8, 2016


Get Together, written by Chet Powers, performed by many.
posted by Fig at 10:15 AM on September 8, 2016


Pretty much anything from Paul Winter Consort Missa Gaia, but I get chills even thinking about For the Beauty of the Earth. Missa Gaia is pretty god-centric but it uses sounds from nature, including wolf howls, waves, blah blah, mixed in with some gorgeous vocals.
posted by janey47 at 10:24 AM on September 8, 2016


What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong

Down to the River to Pray by Allison Krauss

Put a Penny in the Slot by Fionn Regan

Banana Pancakes or Sexy Plexi by Jack Johnson (I'm assuming you mean more of a solemn sound, rather than solemn topics.)

I Love You and Buddha Too by Mason Jennings (with others in this live version) as well as Ballad For My One True Love

One Day Like This by Elbow

See the World by Gomez
posted by runningwithscissors at 10:45 AM on September 8, 2016


Halah by Mazzy Star
Wilco's cover of Daniel Johnston's True Love Will Find You In the End
Sunday Morning by Velvet Underground
posted by rivtintin at 11:04 AM on September 8, 2016


Anything by ... Enya

And just about any arrangement of "How Can I Keep From Singing?"

Voila.

Also, Elvis -- If I Can Dream
posted by DrAstroZoom at 1:12 PM on September 8, 2016


And just about any arrangement of "How Can I Keep From Singing?"

Bruce Springsteen and friends.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:44 PM on September 8, 2016


Again with the Magnetic Fields, but: It's Only Time
posted by Pallas Athena at 7:25 PM on September 8, 2016


Yay! I can't wait to go through and listen to all of these! There are quite a few I'm familiar with, but quite a few more I'm not. (And I'm torn about whether Hallelujah fits my criteria or not. It's so close I almost included it in my examples, but the part about love being "a cold and broken hallelujah" makes me question its joyfulness.) :)

Special thanks to dorthyisunderwood for making a Spotify playlist to facilitate listening! (And I adore the Mountain Goats, but I've actually been finding it surprisingly hard to find one of John's songs that I would play at a funeral. Although "This Year" would have a certain ironic humor, and I've considered Flogging Molly's "If I Ever Leave This World Alive" for the same reason.)
posted by MsMolly at 7:42 PM on September 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Feelies! Especially the albums The Good Earth and Only Life. Also the little-known offshoot band Speed the Plough, which has about four albums from the 80s / 90s that are almost the apotheosis of this style. (Be warned that there is a very different band by the same name that you'll find if you search for them on Spotify.)

An AutoCorrect typo just reminded me of another good band to look up: Hem. A lot of stately, warm, just slightly wistful country/folk. In a similar vein, Willard Grant Conspiracy, though they start to tip into mournfulness maybe a bit more than you would like.
posted by sesquipedalia at 9:07 PM on September 8, 2016


I prefer Jeff Buckley's arrangement of "Hallelujah," yt and I say this as a long time Cohen fan.

And I'm torn about whether Hallelujah fits my criteria or not. It's so close I almost included it in my examples, but the part about love being "a cold and broken hallelujah" makes me question its joyfulness.

Listen to the Leonard Cohen version, dude! This is exactly why I like it better; it's much more ironic, a perfect balance of joy and sorrow. To wit:

There's a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

posted by stoneandstar at 10:11 PM on September 8, 2016


Death Came a Knockin' - Ruthie Foster
posted by ChuraChura at 6:43 AM on September 9, 2016


I can’t believe I’m the first to suggest Do You Realize?? by the Flaming Lips.
posted by nicepersonality at 1:54 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Joyful Girl - Ani Difranco
posted by EvaDestruction at 1:56 PM on September 9, 2016


Heart of Gold from Neil Young!
posted by Ifite at 2:47 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Not quite sure if this fits but I would play Kisses Sweeter than Wine at a wedding OR a funeral. Will probably ask to have it played at my funeral after they play In My Life by the Beatles.

Jackson Browne & Bonnie Raitt - Kisses Sweeter Than Wine
posted by cda at 10:27 PM on September 10, 2016


One Voice - The Wailin' Jennys.
posted by Leon at 6:36 AM on September 12, 2016


Anything by the Mountain Goats. Stevie Nicks by The Hold Steady. Nick Cave's new album, also most of Nick Cave's other albums.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 10:05 PM on September 13, 2016


Late to this, but Song for Zula
posted by dizziest at 8:41 AM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


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