20th Century Songs About Better Things

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Posted 2023-06-09 by Steven Gfollow
I wanted to be positive with some of these columns because it seems, positivity is in short supply in the world, and so I decided to look at music that has that sense of positivity.

Thus, I have collated two lists of songs about things getting better.


To start, I have avoided songs along the lines of "you better do something"; this is about things being an improvement (or not, depending on the lyrical content). This does mean a classic like 'Better Be Home Soon' by Crowded House misses the cut.

What I found interesting was when I had a decent list of songs ready to cull, I could split it into two equal-length lists. This list, therefore, is the first and consists of songs released before the year 2000. The normal rules apply, but they apply across the two lists ā€“ one song per artist (which affected The Beatles and made my choice there a tough one), one version of each song (again, this did make it hard at times), the word "better" appears in the title somewhere, and I need to like the song.

So, here are songs about things being better from last century.
'I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better' by The Byrds (1965)

This is quite an interesting lyrical idea for the time ā€“ the singer will feel better when the girl is gone! The jangly guitars and vocal harmonies are all there, but I just love the lyrics.
'You're A Better Man Than I' by The Yardbirds (1965)

This is the brief Jeff Beck version of the band and a song I missed when collating my best of Beck list. The guitar solo is so clearly him and the song is made by that playing.
'Getting Better' by The Beatles (1967)

The Beatles song I went with comes from the classic Sgt Pepper'sā€¦ album just because it happens to be the one I have been listening to a bit lately. John's odd little response calls to Paul's lines make this.
'Even The Nights Are Better' by Air Supply (1982)

We jump past the 1970s into some soft rock from Australia's Air Supply with one of their many AOR tracks that reached the charts in their career. I find this one of their better tracks, to be honest.
'Girlfriend Is Better' by Talking Heads (1983)

I don't get a chance to include Talking Heads in these lists anywhere near as often as I'd like, and so I am glad to include one of their very many awesome tracks here. The live version from the concert film Stop Making Sense is amazing, by the way.
'I Should Have Known Better' by Jim Diamond (1984)

Sad song, one that I have on 45, and one that I still listen to way too often. This basically encapsulates too many of my teenaged break-ups. As far as I can tell, this was his sole hit, and I have to say, I have not heard any of his other songs (except the B-side to the single).
'Should've Known Better' by Richard Marx (1987)

Richard Marx was big for a few years in the 1980s, and this was one of his rockier songs to touch the charts. I remember hearing this at Blue Light Discos back in the day, and it got a positive response.
'Even Better Than The Real Thing by U2 (1991)

Another band where I had a few choices, but I just like this song. The album Achtung Baby was one that took a little while to grow on me, but this song was always one I liked from that collection.
'Better' by The Screaming Jets (1991)

A band I saw live just the once, this song was the reason I think half the audience were there (I know I am included in that), but the whole show was really good. This song, though, was the latest iteration of Aussie pub rock and they were just so great live.
'Better Days' by Bruce Springsteen (1992)

An album cut from The Boss, and one of many that I think could have been released as a single and worked. This is a fun track and one that I've heard on a couple of live recordings, so it obviously struck a chord with fans.
'Things Can Only Get Better' by D:Ream (1994)'

The Band D:Ream is now best known as the band that science TV guy and real professor Brian Cox played keyboards for (at least, live), but in the 1990s, they had a string of charting singles, of which this was the first, and probably the best.
'Music Sounds Better With You' by Stardust (1998)'

This is an odd dance track, and one that really does encourage you to hit the dance floor. This was at the very end of my nightclub days, but I do remember it playing and we all got up to have fun.
There you are, a dozen songs about things getting or being better from the twentieth century. It's interesting that that's where the divide in my list fell, but I am not going to argue about pleasant coincidences. That does mean there is another list covering songs from this century to come.

Anyway, I hope you found something to enjoy here!
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82689 - 2023-06-11 06:33:32

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