A Decently Joyful Story

It’s an understatement to remark that ours is a perplexing species. Yes, most people might be pretty good at heart for the most part. But you’d hardly know that by the wars that have raged in one place or another throughout recorded and, I have zero doubt, prerecorded history. The latest nightmare, of course, is the Russian assault on Ukraine. It is only one of many post-Second World War examples of cruelty and of refusal, inability even, to live harmoniously. Horrible conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia are others. The Russia/Ukraine situation is by far the most worrisome, needless to say, because a f*cking asshole with nuclear weapons at his command, good ol’ Vladimir, is its lead villain.

Okay, I needed to get that off my chest. And seeing that I’m not in the mood to bum myself out any further, nor anyone else, I now will pivot sharply and head into my comfort zone. Sitting there patiently are a song I first heard in February and a television series that my wife Sandy and I watched earlier this month. I kind of have to write about them. Why? Well, they brought me joy. And I don’t take joy lightly. When I experience it I thank my lucky stars, because joy, though weightless and invisible, is a sweet substance that we require at least now and then. Joy helps us feel whole. It is one of the finest things in life.

First up is Broken Heart, a tune by The Fiestas, a New Jersey vocal quartet (and at times a quintet) that inhabited the worlds of doo wop and rhythm and blues. I’m certain that just about everyone knows this group, if not by name then by their song So Fine, which was released in late 1958 and which I love. So Fine became a smash hit a few months later and receives substantial airplay to this day.

Little did I know that The Fiestas were more than So Fine. Little did I know, that is, until one night last month when a SiriusXM radio channel delivered Broken Heart to our ears while Sandy and I were at home having dinner. Man, in an instant I was hooked. I stopped chewing to let the song give me some thrills. And, via YouTube, I’ve listened to Broken Heart a bunch of times since that evening.

Subsequent research taught me that The Fiestas, whose career lasted into the late 1970s, scored a medium-sized hit with Broken Heart in 1962. Which is why I’m surprised I’d never heard it before. Such a song! Sure, its exuberance belies the warnings about love that are embedded in the lyrics, but who cares about that incongruity? I mean, you don’t run across singing as majestic as this very often. Lead vocalist Tommy Bullock soars, hitting notes so fluidly, so gleefully, he almost brings tears to my eyes. And his partners wrap their voices around his with precision and power. I’m listening to Broken Heart as I type this sentence. Am I feeling joyful? Damn straight! Without further ado, here’s Broken Heart:

Let’s move on now, joyfully, to Anxious People, a Netflix mini-series (six episodes of about 30 minutes each) set and produced in Sweden and based on a novel of the same name by Fredrik Backman. Backman, by the way, is famous, having penned the international bestseller A Man Called Ove.

Sandy and I knew almost nothing about Anxious People before dialing it up, and are pleased as punch that we took the leap. It’s a whimsical tale centered around a group of folks who find themselves held hostage, in a loose sense, by an inept bank robber, and the police investigation that follows. I’m tempted to divulge a whole lot about Anxious People, multi-layered and fascinating as it is. For me to do so, though, would be a crime on my part, as telling too much would spoil the show for anyone interested in giving it a try.

So, I’ll add but a few more handfuls of words. To begin, are there flaws in the series? I, who can be picky to a fault, didn’t find any. The plot lines unfold and interweave deliciously, and the characters, nearly all of whom are laden with foibles and self-doubts, ring true. What we have here, then, is a gentle story that warmed the hell out of my heart. When the final episode reached its end I was filled with joy that carried over to the next day.

Boys and girls, that’s a wrap. I’d be happy to learn about who or what has given you joy of late. Till next time!

127 thoughts on “A Decently Joyful Story

  1. Americaoncoffee March 28, 2022 / 7:04 pm

    The biter and sweets of life are unexpected. Music helps and so does great food and walks. Be happy! Stay happy!😁☀️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 28, 2022 / 10:31 pm

      Howdy. You’re right — music, great food and walks can brighten our days. Have a great rest of the week, AOC!


  2. The Arcane Nibbler March 28, 2022 / 10:36 pm

    Howdy Neil! I’ve had a few health issues in the last couple of years and have been MIA for a while. I’m happy to see you’re still actively blogging. What you wrote about joy really hits home. That’s how I feel about movies (and cats). The bright side of the last two years is that I’ve had lots of time to spend with both. I’ve had the chance to watch dozens of my bucket list movies. Great art fills me with such bliss. I feel so grateful to live in a time in which I can watch classic movies by people like Bunuel or Renoir or whomever, on a whim. There’s not a lot of joy in my life these days. I’ll take it wherever I can get it.

    I loved the song. Never heard of the Fiestas before. That sax! Shades of Junior Walker. I’m ready for a post Oscars break, so the Swedish TV show, the name of which I forgot while scrolling through your massive comments section, sounds like a good bet. I’ll check that out tonight. Hope you’re doing well. — Brian

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 29, 2022 / 8:47 am

      Hi Brian. WordPress sent your comments to a spam folder. I noticed it there a few minutes ago, and retrieved it. Thanks for adding your thoughts. Right, it’s amazing that so many movies are easily accessible these days. I watch a fair number of movies on the tube, and also at cinemas. Most of my TV viewing during the pandemic, though, has been series on Netflix, HBO and the like. I’ve watched dozens of series. See ya.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Joni March 30, 2022 / 5:40 pm

    I hope this posts as it wasn’t allowing me to comment. I tried reading the book Anxious People, as I loved his first book A Man Called Ove and watched the Swedish movie version of it which was good. (Heard Tom Hanks was going to remake it in the US but so far nothing else). But I couldn’t get into the book, although other people gave it good reviews, so maybe I’ll give the Netflix series a try. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger March 30, 2022 / 6:36 pm

      Hi. As you can see, your comments made their way to where they were meant to go. Yeah, maybe give Anxious People a try on Netflix. I found the series to be interesting and charming.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. stargazer April 1, 2022 / 6:07 pm

    Yes, we humans certainly are very perplexing and not always in a good way. It will be *interesting* to see if we will be the cause of our own destruction. Anyway, I am glad you are enjoying the Backman series. As a big fan of A Man Called Ove (both the book and tv adaptation), I’ve been meaning to get to Anxious People as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Michele Anderson April 3, 2022 / 5:10 pm

    Music always brings me so much joy in this crazy world. I’ll have to give that Netflix movie a try, Neil. Joy lately was having my whole family together for a weekend and everyone got along and had a great time. I’m still in shock, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Silver Screenings April 24, 2022 / 5:45 pm

    First, thanks for sharing “Broken Heart” by The Fiestas. This is a new-to-me-song, and it’s perfect on a sunny summer day.

    Second, I love Fredrik Bachman’s writing, and was thinking about getting a copy of Anxious People from the library. Had no idea it’s a series! Thanks for the heads up. I’ll definitely be looking for it.

    Liked by 1 person

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