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Lighten The Mood With This World Music Show Playlist

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Image by Gerhard Gellinger from Pixabay

During this time of hunkering down to help flatten the curve, I’ve been scouring through some of my music to help lighten my mood and keep me moving. So, I thought perhaps you’d like to share in some of the songs I’ve been playing--some for simple joy, others for a lift, while others because I like irony. 

With that, here’s my Top 10 World-ish Music Show picks. I say “ish” because one track doesn’t fall under that umbrella. Also, these are in no particular order and with each one, I give a brief reason as to why I chose it. Please add some of your choices below. 

Bob Marley’s “Don’t Worry About a Thing”
Pretty much any Bob Marley helps lighten any mood. With “Don’t Worry About a Thing,” I both love the song and the message. Just put some headphones (or earbuds) on and shut your eyes, and “everything little thing will be alright.” 

The Jolly Boys “Perfect Day”
These old guys were part of the original movement known as “Mento,” which is dancehall music that originated in Jamaica back in the early 60s. Bands would play popular songs in dance halls in a style of calypso. The Jolly Boys have deep gravelly voices that bring life to this New Order song. 

Alex Cuba “Solo Mia”
Alex Cuba’s latest album, “Sublime,” is full of beautifully, sweeping tracks. He wrote and played all the instruments on this record, too. His voice is a calming, sweet reminder that life will be ok. 

Paul Simon “Boy in the Bubble”
I put Simon’s “Boy in the Bubble” in here because well, the title says it, right? We’re all feeling like we’re living in a bubble at the moment. Plus, it’s just a great song. This is from his groundbreaking “Graceland” album, which highlighted a ton of South African guitar and the voices of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Plus, it opened the door for him to explore other “world” genres, such as South American Timbalada percussion found on “Rhythm of the Saints.” 

Elvis Costello (“What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding”
Written by Nick Lowe, Costello has played the songs hundreds of times since its release on his most excellent “Armed Forces,” LP. But, since then and with each global event, it takes on new meaning. He just did an acoustic version of this from his home in Vancouver while he was self-quarantined, away from his wife Diana Krall and their two children. It was filmed for Artists4NHS, with all proceeds toward the UK National Health Service (NHS).

Michael Franti “Sound of Sunshine”
Franti has a way with knocking out fun, upbeat tracks that you can just turn up and dance too. Whether it’s sunny or not, put this on and just dance around, you won’t be disappointed. 

Pizzicato Five “beautiful day”
This is a great band out of Japan (now defunct) who knew how to mix 60s swing with 90s hipness while not being kitschy. Another fun song to just turn up and bop around too. 

Bombino "Deran Deran Alkheir"
Bombino, who came to RVA during last year’s Folk Festival, is just an amazing guitar player. This is a great song to also put the headphones on to get lost in thought. His playing will swoop through your ears down to toes and back up again. 

Honorable Mention
Angelica Garcia Guadalupe (LA Rooftop Session)

You’ve seen the original record video right? Now check out this amazing version. Just becuase, it’s awesome. 

Ian M. Stewart is the transportation reporter and fill-in anchor for VPM News.
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