My friend Robert at Beginner's Mind asks about music that people use to change their moods.
I guess when I listen to music it doesn't put me in a mood so much as it transports me back to a time and a place when I first heard it. Music can be very nostalgic. I have certain music that I associate with my childhood. Some that dates to junior high school. Some that takes me back to high school days and some that is from college.
Whenever I hear Elvis Presley's "That's Alright, Mama" I'm back in elementary school - Elvis having been one of the first albums I ever got. If I hear the Kingston Trio singing "Tom Dooley" or Herb Alpert and the Tiajuana Brass playing "Tiajuana Taxi" I am transported back to my childhood listening to my father's recorded music from Vietnam on his reel-to-reel player.
The Bee Gee's "Tragedy" and "Play that Funky Music" by Wild Cherry transports me back to junior high days in Victoria riding the bus to school and listening to the local rock radio station each day. Same goes for "Barracuda" by Heart and "Rich Girl" by Hall & Oates.
But to alter my mood, I suppose one song that always makes me happy to listen to is "When Jimmy Falls in Love" by Vance Gilbert. Or the soundtrack to Walt Disney's Dumbo - particulary "Pink Elephants on Parade." I also love a particular version of "If I knew you were coming I would have baked a cake" sung as a duet by Bing Crosby and Bob Hope on Crosby's radio show.
Of course, you can't always make yourself happy just by listening to music. Sometimes when you are really down or heartbroke the old adage "misery loves company" applies and you want to know that you are not alone. That is when Hank Williams Sr. is most effective. The guy knew something about misery and could put it in a song so that it was both catchy and sincere.