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Music

From Curtis Mayfield to Elvis Costello: 10 songs to kickstart your Monday morning

@SamWKemp

Monday morning: never has alliteration left such a sour taste. It’s hard to think of a time when Mondays didn’t feel like a drag. In the womb maybe? But, then, I suppose when your brain is the size of a satsuma every day feels the same anyway.

One of the upsetting things about being a living human person is that you need food and shelter to survive. Unfortunately, to pay for those things you have to work. Sure, maybe there was a time before the working week; when we spent our days hunting mammoths on the steppe and feasting on psychedelic mushrooms come nightfall. But, no matter what the hippies tell you, those days are well and truly gone.

These days, if you find someone lazing around on a Monday morning, you can be damn sure they’re either an out of work actor, a teenager supposedly revising for their A-levels, or an artist contemplating the divine – often with their hand buried in a packet of jaffa cakes. As we working folk make our way out of the door, we might cast a hateful look in their direction, praying that some dreadful accident might befall us on the way to the tube station and we’ll be forced to lie in a hospital bed for weeks on end.

Truth is, of course, that Mondays are part of the deal – they’re unavoidable. Here at Far Out, we can’t banish Mondays, but we can make them easier. In that vein, we’ve bought you ten songs to kickstart your Monday morning: tracks strong enough to blow the cobwebs from Lady Hevesham’s grotty smock, and to put a wiggle in the walk of even the most turgid of corporate stiffs. So, let’s get started.

10 songs to kickstart your Monday morning

‘Always The Sun’ – The Stranglers

This first choice has been easing us into every Monday ever since we decided to make it his morning alarm. I’ve got to say, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better track for the job. The Stranglers’ 1986 single is a cautiously optimistic slice of New Wave that well and truly captures the blue-sky thinking we all need at the start of a new week.

With its analogue synth hits, soft drum pulses, and disco-infused guitar scratches, ‘Always The Sun’ is the kind of track that gently rocks you back into life. Whether you’ve still got a hangover from the previous Saturday or would rather just wrap yourself in a blanket and ignore the world outside your window, this shimmering single is here to say: Chin up, pal “there’s always the sun.”

‘Spanish Stroll’ – Mink Deville

If there’s one song certain to put a pep in your step this Monday then it is undoubtedly Mink Deville’s ‘Spanish Stroll’. While this track bristles with the vitality of early rock n roll, this 1977 single was released at the height of New York’s new wave and punk scene.

Built around motoric guitar lines and an exuberant doo-wop shuffle, ‘Spanish Stroll’ paints a picture of the gritty streets of downtown New York. If you’re a fan of Transformer-era Lou Reed, you’ll certainly like what Deville has to offer. Suffused with no small hint of East Coast sunshine, It’s the perfect track to venture out for a brisk morning walk before anyone else has tapped snooze on their alarm.

‘Move On Up’ – Curtis Mayfield

Curtis Mayfield was a dab hand at raising our spirits. With its gospel roots, complex funk polyrhythms and sensational horn section, ‘Move On Up’ is one of the most hopeful pieces of music ever written. Over the course of ten minutes, Mayfield encourages us to squeeze every drop out of our lives and seize every opportunity that comes our way.

If there’s one thing we all need on a Monday morning, it’s a reminder that all our hard work is leading somewhere. ‘Move On Up’ makes it clear that while life is not without its difficulties, true joy is found in the act of pursuing our dreams – not getting what we want all of the time. So, in Curtis’ own words: “Just move on up / Towards your destination.”

‘Wake Up’ – Arcade Fire

The name says it all. Taken from Arcade Fire’s era-defining 2004 album Funeral, ‘Wake Up’ is the perfect antidote to that pessimism that tends to creep up on us as the evening approaches on a Sunday. It’s a feeling that many of us will remember feeling for the first time in our school days when our main concerns were boring maths classes and teachers with coffee breath.

Frontman Win Butler seems to see his own childhood as a time when everything felt much more intense. After noting: “now that I’m older,
my heart’s colder,” he goes about bringing that same intensity of emotion into the present by ushering Arcade Fire into a joyously uptempo finale.

‘Blue Monday’ – Fats Domino

‘No New Order?’ I hear you cry. Nope, doom-laden late ’80s electronica is not the vibe we need on a Monday morning. Instead, we bring you Fats Domino, who transforms his own Monday blues into a tune that is danceable, charming, and damn catchy too.

Originally written by Dave Bartholomew and first recorded by Smiley Lewis in 1954, ‘Blue Monday’ was made immortal by jazz pianist Fats Waller, whose 12-bar-blues rendition was featured in the 1956 film The Girl Can’t Help It. While Domino doesn’t do anything to hide his disdain for the working week, he does everything in his power to go into it with a smile on his face, bringing a much-needed dose of New Orleans warmth to Monday morning.

‘Jump Around’ – House Of Pain

Throw off your duvet, pour yourself some coffee and get ready to hit the roof: House Of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’ is here to blow that Monday malaise out your butt. Now most of us aren’t brimming with energy at 7.00 am, but I defy anyone to listen to this 1992 hip-hop classic and not feel completely transformed.

If doctors were told to prescribe music to cure lethargy, we’d all be wandering around with paper slips telling us to listen to ‘Jump Around’ at least three times a day: once before breakfast, once after lunch, and once at the end of the working day. With its inventive use of samples, textured vinyl scratches, and offbeat verses, this certified banger will see you through even the dreariest of mornings.

‘Monday, Monday – The Mamas and The Papas’

If West Coast jangle-pop is your thing, then you’re unlikely to find a better song to usher in Monday morning than the Mamas and The Papas’ aptly-titled ‘Monday Monday.’ With its tight-knit harmonies, lilting harpsichord, and mellifluous lead vocal, this 1966 single sees Denny Doherty evoke the refreshing optimism of a working man for whom Monday, seemingly, is the best day of the week.

Universal, artfully produced and undeniably soothing ‘Monday Monday’ is for those who prefer to stumble into the new morning with a dressing gown up top and slippers down below. After dedicating a full hour to drinking orange juice and pondering the morning papers, only then will they consider the day ahead. It’s the Californian way; long may it reign.

‘This Is The Day’ – The The

Not only is it one of the only pop songs to make effective use of an accordion but it’s also one of the most uplifting. The The’s ‘This Is The Day’ is the perfect soundtrack to Monday morning, mainly because it manages to turn that all-too-familiar sense of foreboding into joyous optimism with the flick of a switch.

‘This Is The Day’ opens with the gentlest of gemlike synth arpeggios. With the sunlight leaking through your curtains, you’ll be tempted to stay in bed. But, as soon as that main motif comes in, you’ll be jumping to your foot and running for the door. after all, this is the day your life will surely change.”, and if you’re not there to seize it, it may well pass you by.

‘Beginning To See The Light’ – The Velvet Underground

For a band that presumably spent most getting up to all kinds of debauchery, it’s somewhat surprising that they managed to write not one but two songs perfectly suited to the morning hours: ‘Sunday Morning’ and ‘Beginning To See The Light’.

Taken from The Velvet’s 1969 self-titled album, the first to feature Doug Yule after John Cale’s departure from the band, this surprisingly cheery number sees Lou Reed celebrate the pursuit of happiness regardless of societal expectations. It’s that sense of epiphany, of self-discovery and understanding that makes this track such a wonderful companion come Monday morning.

‘Welcome To The Working Week’ – Elvis Costello

Rounding off our list, one of Elvis Costello’s greatest songs under two minutes. Considering it evokes the high-speed chaos of the working week, it’s no wonder Costello thought it would a good idea to keep things brief. This track hits you like a shot of pure adrenaline – exactly what most of us need first thing on a Monday morning.

While this song is sometimes said to have been written about a prostitute or porn star who is “rhythmically admired”, it also seems to speak of the pressures of corporate life: of the shocking realisation that one’s life can be reduced to a 9-5 fight to put food on the table. If you’re the kind of person who wakes up on a Monday morning with a heavy heart, this simmering slice of classic Costello will surely see you through.