Happy Juxbox

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The road to the Glastonbury  Festival, 1970.

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

– John Lennon.

I read this quote for the first time in a book of John Lennon in my dad’s studio, I was in 5th grade, wore black clothes, patent leather Doctor Martins and listened to Guns & Roses. The girls in my class were into cheerleading, wore dresses or fitted jeans with cropped tops and listened to cheesy pop music from the 90’s, I obviously didn’t fit in, so I spent my evenings after school on my roller skates in the neighborhood, drawing in my bedroom or writing short stories, I think I was happy.

Happiness is a feeling that should come naturally to us when we are kids, it is easier to enjoy the simplicity of life when one is young and naïve, with dreams to pursuit and living in a world where everything is possible.

I spent a lot of time day dreaming in my teenage years, probably too much, I also used to get excited about the simplest and most ordinary things, but there was a time in particular which I remember so well because I felt so content, it was the day I found my dad’s vinyl collection and played something called The Doors, then the Beatles, Rolling Stones and so many more, I was fascinated by the sound and there it was, a whole new world for me to explore.

Music was the thing that brought me closer to my dad, we would stay up late to listen to rock & roll, talk about the psychedelic 60’s and his festival experiences…I was happy.

I have always compared life to a movie, and all our special moments should have a soundtrack, it would be wonderful if we could match all our great experiences to pieces of music, then memories would come to us automatically with songs. I think most of our memorable moments in one way or another involve music, there is a song that probably reminds us of our first date, an unforgettable summer or our time at university, music is deeply intertwined with memory.

For some of us music is a kind of energy and a source of inspiration, in my case it helps me to write and gives me ideas, but it also helps me to relax, a cold evening in winter sitting by the fire place and sipping a glass of wine would be incomplete without a lovely piece of music being played in the background.

As some might say, music makes the world go round, but why is that I wonder, well, perhaps because it has been linked to important events in history and even inspired social movements, and although not music in itself but songs have contributed with defining decades, it also plays an important roll in some cultures and brings people together in an extraordinary way. I’m interested in the relationship between music and historical developments but most of all, its connection to happiness.

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Jimi Hendrix in NYC, 1969.

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Janis Joplin at Glastonbury, 1970.

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The Beatles last concert.

Music surrounds us in our everyday life and I’m only one of many who loves and needs to listen to it every morning on my way to work, who has a passion for gigs and festivals, because it makes me feel happy, it simply makes me feel alive. But is it just one genre of music that makes us feel this way? Or is it music in general? Studies show that listening to “happy” music stimulates the reward center of the brain, causing the production of the chemical dopamine, which is the same chemical produced from eating chocolate, having sex and taking drugs.

Other studies have also shown that music increases concentration, lowers perception of effort and provides ongoing stimulus, therefore it is not a mystery that a long run is definitely easier and more enjoyable while listening to an up beat tune or our favourite songs.

“Music is  a moral law, it gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness and life to everything”.

-Plato.

Some people might find jazz, soul or even classical music their happy melodies, but for me it’s the psychedelic sound of the 60’s, because if I close my eyes I can really just imagine being there and life is sweet, with Janis and Hendrix. Our favorite songs have the ability to take us back in time or to a fantasy, a moment that represents positivity, and even if it brings a feeling of nostalgia it will be predominantly a happy experience, this is just another indication of how powerful our relationship with music really is.

There are people who I truly admire because they are or have been very influential in art, music, fashion and photography history, but I have listed only ten, incredibly talented individuals and their favourite song or album, perhaps it is the song that makes them feel inspired and happy.

I have also listed my favourite song, it’s a melody that captures so many wonderful memories all at once but it’s even more special because of Jim Morrison’s beautiful voice, it’s Soul Kitchen by The Doors.

No. 1 Salvador Dali – Tristan and Isolde by Wagner.

No. 2 Stanley Kubrick – Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss.

No.3 Andy Warhol – All Tomorrow’s Parties by The Velvet Underground.

No.4 Thom York – Unravel by Bjork.

No.5 Coco Chanel – Qui qu’ a vu Coco dans le Trocadero.

No.6 Julie Verhoeven – Rumours (full album) by Fleetwood Mac’s

No.7 Nick Knight – Heaven Must Have Sent You by The Elgins.

No.8 Daphne Guinness – A Day in the Life by The Beatles.

No.9 Vivienne Westwood – Last Night Was Made For Love by Billy Fury.

No.10 John Lenon – Slippin’ and Slidin’ by Little Richard.

Into the Dark

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Paul Morrissey, Andy Warhol, Janis Joplin and Tim Buckley.

I was looking at some images of the 1960’s music scene for an article I wrote for  Airport-Magazine  next issue, in fact I was looking at the photo above while listening to one of my playlists in Spotify when Golden Arrow by Darkside came on, suddenly my mood changed, this song and the photo made me think of other obscured songs, talented artists whose lives might have ended in tragedy and troubled souls.

I thought of Pink Floyd instantly because Darkside’s music reminded me of some songs by the group, I even wondered whether the name Darkside and their experimental sound was inspired by “The Darkside of the Moon” by Pink Floyd, but anyway, that’s a different subject. I then thought of Syd Barret, who was Pink Floyd’s original lead singer but  left the band in 1968 because of his mental illness.

Then Janis Joplin came to my mind, the 60’s queen of psychedelic blues who sadly died in 1970, also Hendrix, who died a couple of weeks before Janis, and then of course  the troubled soul of Jim Morrison.

As  I continued to listen to music, depressing but beautiful songs I searched for imagery that represents the mood I’m in,  although some photos don’t related to each other they all bring nostalgia and even sadness, a dark and uneasy feeling, which I find in Diane Arbus  photography.

Troubled Souls

Syd Barrett

Syd Barrett

Pink Floyd in 1970

Pink Floyd in 1970

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Janis Joplin

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Jim Morrison on stage in 1968

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JIm Morrison

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Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix

Glastonbury Music Festival in Pilton, Somerset, [Circa. 1960/197

Glastonbury 1970

Mia Farrow by Diane Arbus

Mia Farrow by Diane Arbus

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Twins by Diane Arbus

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Flower Girl Wedding 1964 by Diane Arbus

Diane Arbus

Diane Arbus