British singer/songwriter Ian Dury recorded the top ten UK hit “Reasons to Be Cheerful, Part 3” in 1979. Lyrically, it’s a very simple song; much like Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” it amounts to little more than a list of unrelated rhymes sung in time with the music.
The inspiration for the song came from an experience of Dury’s… or, more accurately, from one of Dury’s road crew. A roadie responsible for the lighting at his shows was electrocuted by a poorly grounded microphone during one of his band’s Italy stops. The roadie survived only due to the quick actions of one of the other crew members.
Dury immediately announced the cancellation of the show, citing safety issues. That announcement triggered fights among the patrons who’d paid to see him, and efforts to deal with the aftermath of the brawl and simultaneously ensure good care for their roadie caused Dury and his band to stop the tour.
In the interim, to take their mind off their troubles and as a way of bolstering the spirits of the recovering crew member, the song was written. As mentioned above, it’s little more than a list of things that various members of the band and road crew found pleasant.
As a listing song, his thick British accent virtually guaranteed having trouble charting in America, but topping out at #3 on the UK charts was undoubtedly better than the band had expected from a song like this.
Dury had, perhaps, a better perspective than most when writing the song. There are many pop stars… but few who’ve risen to fame after being crippled by severe polio at age 7.
Question of the night: What’s a song that makes you happy?