Pattaya Daily News

08 August 2009 :: 23:08:29 pm 2306

Don’t Worry Be Happy: Bobby McFerrin

Bobby McFerrin is without doubt a remarkably talented man. He was the first artist in the pop era to take a completely a cappella performance to the top of the American charts. Each and every sound on his award-winning recording, ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy‘, was made by McFerrin himself with his 4-octave range and vast array of vocal techniques, using his own body as a human orchestra.
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His one-man performances have entranced audiences throughout the world, and though he began his recording career as a jazz artist he has more recently excelled in the classical field. Performing the music of Mozart, Bach and Mendelssohn, McFerrin has also conducted the Los Angeles, New York and London Philharmonic Orchestra’s to name but a small few. Born in New York City in 1950, McFerrin was the son of two classical singers – his father was the voice of Sydney Poitier in the 1959 film version of Porgy And Bess.

He began studying musical theory at the age of 6 before learning clarinet and later piano. Performing as a pianist and vocalist, he toured with a number of pop bands in the 1970s before deciding on a full-time career as a vocalist in 1977. His big break came in 1980 when he was spotted by Bill Cosby who arranged for him to perform at that year’s Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. He later performed the theme music to Cosby’s long-running TV sit-com.

Bobby McFerrin was soon appearing with the cream of the jazz world, artists such as Weather Report, Herbie Hancock and Wynton Marsalis. He’d already recorded a number of innovative jazz albums and won 5 Grammy® Awards before he came to the attention of the pop music public at large with Simple Pleasures in 1988, the album that included the infectious ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’. The song had in fact been a part of McFerrin’s repertoire for some years, though it hadn’t really been a song at all – just a rough idea, and the one line, ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’.

During a lull in recording Simple Pleasures, McFerrin began playing around with the idea in the studio and finally turned it into a complete song. All the sounds on the song, indeed the entire album, were created by multi-tracking the effects created by the voice and body of Bobby McFerrin alone – there are absolutely no other instruments on the entire recording. Other highlights on the album included a version of the Beatles ‘Drive My Car’ and a stunning re-creation of Cream’s ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’ during which McFerrin improvised an amazing distorted guitar solo.

Bobby McFerrin’s Simple Pleasures album contained his massive hit

Released as a single, the highly commercial ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ attracted immediate radio airplay, and when it was featured on the soundtrack of the Tom Cruise movie Cocktail it shot to Number 1 throughout the world, topping the charts in America, Australia, Canada, Israel and Germany. It later won Grammy® Awards as both Record and Song Of The Year. Mr McFerrin continues to tour the world with his suitcase full of Grammy® Awards, both in a classical setting and as a solo performer, and has worked with such diverse artists as Manhattan Transfer, comedians Robin Williams and Billy Crystal and The Muppets. Incidentally, if this is a song that you just can’t get out of your mind, then you are suffering from “Stuck Tune Syndrome”.

Professor James Kellaris of the University of Cincinnati has been studying the problem and has discovered that about 98% of us suffer from the phenomenon, and songs like the irritatingly catchy ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ are prime contenders. While most people rid themselves of this affliction within a few hours, the good professor has discovered that almost 20% of us (your friendly author included) can be plagued for days on end! Happily, there are a number of cures and apparently one of the best is to sing the song to someone else, and let them suffer! So altogether now: “Here’s a little song I wrote…”

DON’T WORRY BE HAPPY – BOBBY McFERRIN
EMI-Manhattan 50146 (USA) / Manhattan MT 56 (UK)
Released July 1988
Writer Bobby McFerrin
Producers Linda Goldstein & Bobby McFerrin.
USA #1 24th September 1988 2 weeks / UK #2 October 1988

TONY BURTON

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Lifestyle

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