Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3
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|"Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3"|
|Single by Ian Dury & The Blockheads|
|B-side||"Common As Muck"|
|Released||20 July 1979 (U.K.)|
|Format||7" single, 12" single|
|Length||4:43, 6:41 (12" version)|
|Writer(s)||Ian Dury / Chas Jankel / Davey Payne|
|Ian Dury & The Blockheads singles chronology|
"Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3" is a song and single by Ian Dury and the Blockheads, initially released as the single "Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3 / Common as Muck" issued on 20 July 1979 and reached number 3 in the UK singles Chart the following month. It is the last single to be released by the band in their original line-up
"Reasons to be Cheerful" was not recorded at The Workhouse, Fulham with the material that made up the Do it Yourself album but in Eretcia Studios (owned by RCA) in Rome during a break in a long European tour. According to its author Ian Dury the song was inspired by a near fatal accident involving a lighting roadie. Roadie Charley almost got electrocuted in Italy by a microphone stand while leaning over a mixing desk. Another roadie saved his life, hence why 'no electric shocks' is included in the song's lyrics. The song was written in the band's hotel during the aftermath of this and a fight that broke out at the venue when the band were forced to cancel the show because of the safety issues and both it and b-side "Common As Muck" were recorded in the break in the tour caused by the cancellation of the Italian shows.
Saxophonist Davey Payne was upset about the financial disparities within Dury’s band so in order to placate him, Dury told co-writer Chas Jankel to incorporate a sax solo part in the middle, which Payne could improvise and thus earn a share in the song.
Musically "Reasons to be Cheerful" is noticeably different from Ian Dury's other output, even from the funkier, softer tracks from Do It Yourself and his hit single "Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick" and radically different from New Boots and Panties!! and the material that would follow Reasons on Laughter. Instead the music owes much to Disco records and soft funk with rapped lyrics.
The song has been described as a 'shopping-list song'. It is a simple list of a number of reasons to be cheerful. In that respect it is almost identical to an older Ian Dury track, "England's Glory", a song that he had refused to revive when asked the previous year. The list of reasons to be cheerful includes:
- Rock 'n' Roll singer Buddy Holly
- Little Richard's 1956 hit Good Golly Miss Molly
- Hammersmith Palais, London as immortalized in The Clash's song (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais.
- The Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Russia
- British automobile company Scammell Lorries (specifically their 18-wheeler lorry)
- Equal voting rights for men and women
- Piccadilly Circus, London
- Genitalia ('Fanny Smith and Willy')
- The breakfast cereal porridge oats
- Generosity and politeness
- Yellow socks
- Carrot juice
- Elvis (Presley) and Scotty (Moore), his guitarist
- Going to the toilet ('sitting on the potty')
- A cure for Smallpox
- The National Health Service's free glasses (known for being unattractive and amusing to look at)
- Rent boys and Prostitutes ('Gigolos and Brasses')
- Smoking a bong (lighting up the chalice)
- Skiffle singer Wee Willie Harris
- Steven Biko (though more likely the anti-apartheid movement and other positive outcomes of his struggle and death)
- Jamaican trombonist Rico Rodriguez who would go on to play with Coventry band The Specials the same year as Reasons to be Cheerful's release
- Comedians the Marx Brothers ('Harpo, Groucho, Chico')
- British sandwich Ploughman's lunch ('Cheddar cheese and pickle')
- British motorcycle manufacturer Vincent Motorcycles (Dury always pronounced Motorcycle 'Motorsickle')
- Sex ('slap and tickle')
- American Comedian Woody Allen
- Spanish painter Salvador Dalí
- The popular song Volare
- Soul singer Smokey Robinson
- Being released from prison ('Coming out of chokey')
- Saying okey dokey
- Saxophonist John Coltrane, specifically his soprano saxophone playing.
- Italian Singer/Songwriter Adriano Celentano
- 1940s and 50s film actor Bonar Colleano
- Self-education ("something nice to study")
Common as Muck has a much more 'classic Dury' sound. It is an amusing number written sometime before its A-side, celebrating being 'common' (working class). Like its A-side it is filled with namechecks including Lionel Blair, Evonne Goolagong, Jack Palance and Fred Astaire.
Re-releases and versions
As with "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick" before it, "Reasons to be Cheerful" can now be found easily on every Ian Dury compilation to date. Like all of Ian Dury's singles, this was not originally the case because, in keeping with Ian Dury's singles policy at the time, the song was omitted from the next album (Laughter) and was not made available again. It first re-appeared on the compilation album Jukebox Dury two years later in 1981.
Demon Records chose bizarrely to add "Reasons to Be Cheerful" as the sole bonus track to its CD re-issue of Laughter. This was an unusual choice considering it has no relation to the album, which was recorded by another line-up of the band including Dr. Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson and that the song was already included as a bonus track on their re-issue of Do It Yourself.
Edsel Records has included both "Reasons to be Cheerful" and its extended mix on its 2-Disc edition of Do It Yourself.
For the 12" version of the single, a longer remixed version of the track was released, this was later included as a bonus track for both Demon and Edsel Records CD re-issues of the Do it Yourself album
A live version of "Reasons to Cheerful" omitted from the original record, was added as a bonus track to the CD re-issue of Ian Dury and The Blockhead's Live Album Warts 'n' Audience it closes the band's set and features Ian Dury promising to make an album in the near future.
Similar to "Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll", "Reasons to be Cheerful" can be found spelt various ways, including on some official Ian Dury records. Variations included "Reasons to be Cheerful Part 3", with no comma, "Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 3)", "Reasons to be Cheerful pt. 3", "Reasons to be Cheerful (Pt. 3)", and simply "Reasons to be Cheerful" without the Part 3 at all. The original single spells it "Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3" on the label of the 7" pressing, "Reasons to be Cheerful, Pt. 3" on the label of the 12" but "Reasons to be Cheerful (Part Three)" on the cover of both pressings.
- Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll: The Life Of Ian Dury by Richard Balls, first published 2000, Omnibus Press
- Ian Dury & The Blockheads: Song By Song by Jim Drury, first published 2003, Sanctuary Publishing.
- BBC.co.uk's guide to the reasons to be cheerful
- Robert Wright on optimism on Ted Talks