8 tracks ► songs with good advice (for the new year)


►  Take it or leave it. At this time of year when people are busy making resolutions and setting goals, it seems appropriate to see what good advice our musical forebears may have for us as we try to set up ourselves for success in the new year.

►  A countdown:

1  •  Don’t Drink the Water • Dave Matthews Band    ►   This advice could be especially helpful when traveling internationally. I hear it’s brushing teeth that gets most people. Bottled water for that too. [Or so says Ingrid Bergman to Cary Grant in the classic film Indiscreet.]

7  • Take it Easy • the Eagles   ►   Lighten up while you still can. Although, given this guy’s situation, maybe he should take it easy with picking up ladies, even if they are driving a flatbed Ford.

6  • Love the One You’re With • Crosby, Stills & Nash   ►   Don’t be angry; don’t be sad. Don’t sit crying over good times you’ve had. Turn your heartache right into joy. This advice sounds like a solid get-0ver-that-nasty-break-up advice. However, there could be (okay, there definitely are) situations when this advice is, well, not so good.

5  •  Teach Your Children • Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young   ►   Ok, so where maybe the previous song could be misapplied and thus considered bad advice, it’s a bit harder to argue with the advice this song proposes: Teach your children well and feed them on your dreams. Just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

[Sidebar: I can’t actively listen to this song without crying. This one and Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle.” Seriously, I have a problem. And, obviously, children. ]

4  •  Hang Loose • the Alabama Shakes   ►   Put your worries on a shelf. Learn to love yourself. Don’t be your own worst enemy. Let the ocean worry about being blue. Really, this song is like your own personal pep talk, but with a catchy bass line and swinging rhythm.

3  •  Live and Let Die • Wings  ►   If this advice is good enough for James Bond, it’s good enough for me. Even if it is just another way of saying “let well enough alone” or, more colloquially, “let sleeping dogs lie.” It also sounds like a toughened up version of the advice in an earlier song penned by McCartney: “Let It Be” (see below).

2  •  Don’t Fear the Reaper • Blue Oyster Cult   ►   This song tackles the real issues life–and death. One that we could use after the previous song!

1  •  Keep Your Hands to Yourself • the Georgia Satellites   ►   Now honey, my baby, this advice may be the best yet: Don’t hand me no lines and keep your hand to yourself. Really, it’s hard to go wrong with these 2 principles in place.   

►   Bonus Tracks   »   [ the quintessence ]

»   Let It Be • the Beatles   ►   »   Shine on until tomorrow.

[Sidebar: This song was the last single released before McCartney announced his departure from the band. Like most advice, it seems this one is easier said than done. Especially when trying to get a group of people to just let it be. ]

»   Simple Man • Lynyrd Skynyrd   ►   »   You better listen to your mama. It’ll help you some sunny day.

So this song doesn’t have any advice in the title, but the entire song is a veritable laundry list of life lessons. Made all the more emotional by the mother’s request for her son to come on and sit beside her then, in true Southern form, the personal appeal–“you’ll do this for me, won’t you, son?” Followed by, “All I want for you is to be satisfied.”

Honestly, if the advice wasn’t so darn good and the music so moving, this song might feel more like a guilt trip laid on by a nagging and overbearing mother.

As it is, this classic Skynyrd track has the following pearls of wisdom to offer:

Take your time, don’t live too fast.

Troubles will come and they will pass.

Don’t forget, son, there is someone up above.

Be a simple kind of man.

Be something you love and understand.

Forget your lust for the rich man’s gold–all that you need is in your soul.

And remember, you can do this, oh baby, if you try.

View playlists or follow me on Spotify  ►  hilwolfe

graphics, text © 2016 hilary hall
photograph "Medical Advice" by CJ Sorg courtesy of Flickr

►  In the queue  »  Songs with good covers pt 1 (As in someone else has sung them and they still sound good. At least to me. ) •