There Are Stars Above You — 10 Songs For Feeling Better Even if You Already Feel Good

Starry Night Over the Rhone, Vincent Van Gogh, 1888. Musee d’Orsay, Paris, France.

We can always count on music to enrich us and connect us to each other, no matter who we are or where we are from. Some songs are especially good at making us feel better, no matter how we are feeling.  Here are a few favorites from my very long list. They bring up different moods and they are all mixed up, so don’t expect any kind of emotional theme or evolution. And please share some of your own!

  • “Cinema Paradiso,” Ennio Morricone. When my son Gabe was a baby, I listened constantly to the music from this wonderful movie. It suited that time of sweetness and wonder. Twenty-eight years later, it still gives me a sense of the qualities of perfect innocence.

  •  “God Only Knows,” The Beach Boys. This song has a special intimacy that belongs to everyone, and it speaks to any kind of love — it’s about a lover, a spouse, a child, a friend, a dog. About half way through, you get the feeling someone is singing this song about you. “As long as there are stars above you….”

  • “Mexico,” James Taylor. Even before I lived in Mexico, this was one of my favorite James Taylor songs. It has joy, longing, humor. And you can dance to it. πŸ™‚

  • Mystery,” Beth Orton. This ballad is a prayer to the world’s magic. It makes me want to study the veins in a leaf and stare at the stars.

  • Put Your Records On,” Corinne Bailey Ray. Go for a bike ride. Kiss a puppy. Fall in love. “You go ahead, let your hair down.”

Thank you, Gary Mankin, for sharing this.

  • Monday, Monday,” The Mamas and the Papas. It’s like comfort food. It’s going to make you feel good but it’s full of calories from wistful and nostalgic. You go with it because you know it’s got your back. And tomorrow is Tuesday.

  • Lovely Day,” Bill Withers. Among the gifts of parenting are those moments of unspoken understandings. This is so much Gabe’s song, we both knew it the first time we listened to it together. Something about it is just completely about him. If this song doesn’t make you feel better, listen to it again.

  • Clarinet Concerto in A Major,” Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Is there a piece of music that is more soothing and reflective? And perfect? The composer, Antonio Salieri, called it β€œthe very voice of God.”

  • Smile, Please.” Only Stevie Wonder could shame us into feeling joy and encouragement. The music, the words, and the voice are as sweet as music gets.  “Love’s not competing, it’s on your side.”

  • Heal the World,” Michael Jackson. We need this song. But it’s the performance with hundreds of children in front of 100,000 people that will makes me cry with hope and connects me to my extended family of 7 billion people. Not in the spirit of things, the NFL has blocked me from posting a link to the video but you can go to youtube and find it by searching for “Heal the World Superbowl 1993.”  It’s worth it, I promise.

A final note….My sister, Laura, sent me this today: “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”

So be wise. Play music. Live like we are in this together.

Tilden Park, Berkeley CA. April 2020


  1. Another beautiful post, and I’m going to steal the picture of the chalk message at Tilden.

    I’d add to Mozart’s clarinet concerto, Beethoven’s violin one.

    Love, Steve

  2. Beautiful post, as usual. I’m stealing the photo of the chalk message on the Tilden sidewalk.

    Is as beethoven ‘s violin concerto, muy favorite por in a storm.

    1. Oh wow, Wendy, this brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful story about this tender relationship that became such a gorgeous piece of music. I love how this musician was so patient and so attuned to her seasonal resident. My uracas in San Miguel made music — but it was more along the lines of audacious and I laughed out loud at times. This musician would find something to complement their songs.

  3. Cinema Paradiso is one of my all time favorite films. and I love the soundtrack and playing the songs on the piano! Sympatico!

  4. My personal Guru of Music came through once again! Thanks for introducing me to Beth Orton and Corinne Bailey Ray. πŸ™‚

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