Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3

Infobox Single
Name = Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3

Artist = Ian Dury & The Blockheads
from Album =
B-side = "Common As Muck"
Released = July 20, 1979 (U.K.)
Format = 7" single
Recorded =
Genre = Rock / Funk
Length = 4:43
Label = Stiff Records
Writer = Ian Dury / Chas Jankel / Davey Payne
Producer =
Certification =
Chart position = #3 (UK)
Last single = "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick"
This single = "Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3"
Next single = "I Want To Be Straight"
"Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3" is a song and single by Ian Dury and the Blockheads, initially released as the single BUY 50 "Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3 / Common as Muck" issued on July 20th 1979 and reached number 3 in the UK singles Chart the following month. It is the last single to be released by the band in their original line-up

"Reasons to be Cheerful" was not recorded at The Workhouse, Fulham with the material that made up the "Do it Yourself" album but in Eretcia Studios (owned by RCA) in Rome during a break in a long European tour. According to its author Ian Dury the song was inspired by a near fatal accident involving a lighting roadie. Roadie Charley almost got electrocuted in Italy by a microphone stand while leaning over a mixing desk. Another roadie saved his life, hence why 'no electric shocks' is included in the song's lyrics. The song was written in the band's hotel during the aftermath of this and a fight that broke out at the venue when the band were forced to cancel the show because of the safety issues and both it and b-side Common As Muck were recorded in the break in the tour caused by the cancellation of the Italian shows.

The Song

Musically "Reasons to be Cheerful" is noticeably different from Ian Dury's other output, even from the funkier, softer tracks from Do It Yourself and his hit single "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick" and radically different from "New Boots and Panties!!" and the material that would follow Reasons on "Laughter". Instead the music owes much to Disco records and soft funk with rapped lyrics.

The song has been described as a 'shopping-list song'. It is a simple list of a number of reasons to be cheerful. In that respect it is almost identical to an older Ian Dury track, "England's Glory", a song that he had refused to revive when asked the previous year. The list of reasons to be cheerful includes:

* Rock 'n' Roll singer Buddy Holly
* Little Richard's 1956 hit Good Golly Miss Molly
* Hammersmith Palais, London as immortalized in The Clash's song (White Man) in Hammersmith Palais.
* The Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Russia
* British automobile company Scammell Lorries (specifically their 18-wheeler lorry)
* Equal voting rights for men and women
* Piccadilly Circus, London
* The genitalia ('Fanny Smith and Willy')
* The breakfast food porridge oats
* Generosity and politeness
* Yellow socks
* Carrot juice
* Wine
* Elvis (Presley) and Scotty (Moore), his guitarist
* Going to the toilet
* A cure for Smallpox
* The National Health Service's free glasses (known for being unattractive and amusing to look at)
* Rent boys and Prostitutes ('Gigolos and Brasses')
* Skiffle singer Wee Willie Harris
* Steven Biko (though more likely the anti-apartheid movement and other positive outcomes of his struggle and death)
* Jamaican trombonist Rico Rodriguez who would go on to play with Coventry band The Specials the same year as Reasons to be Cheerful's release
* Comedians the Marx Brothers ('Harpo, Groucho, Chico')
* British sandwich Ploughman's lunch ('Cheddar cheese and pickle')
* British motorcycle manufacturer Vincent Motorcycles (Dury always pronounced Motorcycle 'Motorsickle')
* American Comedian Woody Allen
* Famous Spanish painter Salvador Dali
* The popular song Volare
* Soul singer Smokey Robinson
* Being released from solitary confinement in prison ('Coming out of chokey')
* Nudity
* Saxophonist John Coltrane, specifically his soprano saxophone playing.
* Italian Singer/Songwriter Adriano Celentano
* 1940s and 50s film actor Bonar Colleano

Common as Muck has a much more 'classic Dury' sound. It is an amusing number written sometime before its A-side, celebrating being 'common' (working class). Like its A-side it is filled with namechecks including Lionel Blair, Evonne Goolagong, Jack Palance and Fred Astaire.

Re-releases and versions


As with "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick" before it, "Reasons to be Cheerful" can now be found easily on every Ian Dury compilation to date. Like all of Ian Dury's singles this was not originally the case because, in keeping with Ian Dury's singles policy at the time, the song was omitted from the next album (Laughter) and was not made available again. It first re-appeared on the compilation album "Jukebox Dury" two years later in 1981.

Demon Records chose to bizarrely add "Reasons to Be Cheerful" as the sole bonus track to their CD re-issue of "Laughter". An unusual choice considering it has no relation to the album which was recorded by another line-up of the band including Dr. Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson and that the song was already included as a bonus track on their re-issue of Do It Yourself

Edsel Records have included both Reasons to be Cheerful and it's extended mix on their 2-Disc edition of Do It Yourself.


For the 12" version of the single, a longer remixed version of the track was released, this was later included as a bonus track for both Demon and Edsel Records CD re-issues of the Do it Yourself album

A live version of "Reasons to Cheerful" omitted from the original record, was added as a bonus track to the CD re-issue of Ian Dury and The Blockhead's Live Album "Warts 'n' Audience" it closes the band's set and features Ian Dury promising to make an album in the near future.


Similar to "Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll", "Reasons to Be Cheerful" can be found spelt various ways, including on some official Ian Dury records. Variations included "Reasons to be Cheerful Part 3", with no comma, "Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 3)", "Reasons to Be Cheerful pt. 3", "Reasons to be Cheerful (Pt. 3)", and simply "Reasons to be Cheerful" without the Part 3 at all. The original single spells it "Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3" with the comma (though the Part 3 is missing from the sleeve artwork, the full title is included on the actual record).


* According to Mickey Gallagher in "Ian Dury & The Blockheads: Song By Song" 'Balabalabala' is a reference to a story he told Ian Dury about the success of a joke song in Germany. The German song's only lyrics were 'balabalabalabala' repeated over.
* While recording the album Lord Upminster Dury and Jankel were mobbed by rock band Smokey under the misinterpretation that the line 'singalong a Smokey' was about them. It is in fact about Smokey Robinson as confirmed by Jankel in "Ian Dury & The Blockheads: Song by Song". Smokey asked them to listen to their new album, so Dury politely listened. His co-writer sneaked out.


*"Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll: The Life Of Ian Dury" by Richard Balls, first published 2000, Omnibus Press
*"Ian Dury & The Blockheads: Song By Song" by Jim Drury, first published 2003, Sanctuary Publishing.
* ['s guide to the reasons to be cheerful]

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