Odes to Joy

A playlist to accompany our Summer 2019 issue, Happiness.

By Lapham’s Quarterly

Thursday, June 20, 2019

A drawing of a group of musicians, playing horns, saxophones, and a drum.

Harlem Musicians, by Elizabeth Olds, c. 1837. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

We may call it the food of love, but music has been used to explore and express emotions beyond the amorous and the (un)requited. Happiness—along with its companions contentment, ecstasy, and satisfaction—has found expression in melody and lyric verse throughout history. If our goal is to understand how humanity has conceived bliss, we could do worse than to listen to odes to joy both past and present. As a companion to our Summer 2019 issue, Happiness, we present a playlist of songs on the theme. These tracks span from medieval folk to K-pop, with much in between. May they be the food of joy.


Explore Happiness, the Summer 2019 issue of Lapham’s Quarterly.