March 9, 2009

My 2 favorite "nice" songs.

"You Didn't Have to Be So Nice":

"Wouldn't It Be Nice?":

Very 1960s, of course. If there are "nice" songs from earlier or later eras, you'll have to flag them for me. I do know this one, but it's hardly the same thing. Meanwhile, let's vote on my "nice" songs. Just the songs. Don't count the video, which for both is nicely low quality. And don't give the Lovin' Spoonful extra credit for Peter Noone.

Pick a "nice" song. free polls 

UPDATE: The Peter Noone version was taken down so I've changed the embed to The Lovin' Spoonful. And the old poll had gone dead, so I put up the same options in a new poll.


Joan said...

And don't give the Lovin' Spoonful extra credit for Peter Noone.

Once again, Ann asks for the impossible.

AllenS said...

Here's mine:

I can't seem to find my link stuff.

kjbe said...

Right on, Joan.

Like 'em both, but gotta give a nod to an old college boyfriend - a California boy - and go with the Beach Boys.

Henry said...

The only "nice" song on my computer is this one (though not this version):

You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To

AllenS said...

Let's try this

campy said...

"It's Nice to Go Trav'ling" by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen.

campy said...

Also, "A real Nice Clambake" by Rodgers & Hammerstein.

Ann Althouse said...

Ever notice how the Beach Boys never wear bathing suits? Even when they are horsing around in a pool, they are fully dressed. Not even shorts. Think that's odd? I don't. The explanation is obvious.

David said...

"The explanation is obvious."

Man boobs? Or just a general lack of beachiness and boyness?

Kirby Olson said...

I thought the LS had a more intimate and coherent number, plus I had never seen them live, so I voted for them. Who is Peter Noone?

Triangle Man said...

"Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Here's a little number I tossed off recently in the Caribbean"...

Isn't it awfully nice to have a penis.

ricpic said...

Who is that interloper compared to THE BEACH BOYS?!

Issob Morocco said...

"You Would Be So Nice To Come Home To" Nancy Wilson and "Here Come The Nice" The Small Faces.

John Stodder said...

It's not even a close call. "Wouldn't It Be Nice" is the kickoff track for "Pet Sounds" and sets the tone for Brian Wilson's update of the Phil Spector wall-of-sound.

This is like comparing "With a Little Help from My Friends" with "That's What Friends are For" because they both are about friends. Or "I Get a Kick Out of You" with Paul Revere and the Raiders' "Kicks."

AllenS said...

Oops, my song doesn't say nice in the title.

Unknown said...

The other "nice" songs on my iPod:

Nice to be with You - Gallery
(If Paradise is) Half as Nice - Amen Corner
Nice & Slow - Usher
Not Ready to Make Nice - The Dixie Chicks

wgh said...

I may be an idiot, but don't you mean John Sebastian? Peter was from Herman's Hermits.

Joe M. said...

Are you kidding? No question: the Beach Boys. There are few pop songs better than "Wouldn't It Be Nice?".

sonicfrog said...

An alternate version of "The Penis Song".

Who knew it had been covered???

PS. For the life of me, I can't think of another "Nice" song.

Ann Althouse said...

@wgh Try watching the video.

Joe said...

He looks so familiar, I'm embarrassed to be asking this, but who was the emcee introducing The Loving Spoonful?

Clyde said...

Well, there's always "Everybody's Got Nice Stuff But Me" by the Dead Milkmen, off their Beelzebubba album...

David said...

Pink Floyd has an album "Nice Pair."

Jim Hu said...

Sinatra singing Nice n easy (audio w/static pic).

Here's a version with Gene Kelly dancing too.

William said...

The Beach Boys were like the Proctor & Gamble of rock. They delivered a reliable product at a reasonable price. You always enjoyed their music but never felt you were special or hip because of that enjoyment. The Lovin Spoonful offered the same product but with a few boutique trimmings. They were Starbucks to the Beach Boys' Maxwell House. Like the Beach Boys, the message of their music was the pleasure it gave. There was no wish to change the consciousness of the masses or raise a revolutionary banner. The Beach Boys sang about the summer dazzle of youth, and there were no sharp barbs in the hooks of their music. The music of the Lovin Spoonful was also as gentle as the rain on the roof, but their lyrics were somewhat wittier and more poignant. "She's one of the girls that come in the spring" has the implicit message that she's one of the girls that will pass with the spring.....I still listen to both groups. In this one song, I gave the vote to the Spoonful. But both groups recorded live at Fern Hill and "sang in their chains like the sea".

Superdad said...

Have a nice day - Bon Jovi

Ann Althouse said...

"She's one of the girls that come in the spring"

The lyrics read like pedophilia in the cold light of today.

Ann Althouse said...

@Joe That's Peter Noone!

(Didn't know my post was so abstruse!)

Meade said...

Don't forget Prince can be so nice.

Ron said...

Sinatra & Peggy Lee "Nice work if you can get it"

jill said...

Never like the Beach Boys with their falsetto voices, but loved John Sebastian. 'You and me and rain on the roof' was sweet.

Nice songs:
Nice & Easy - Sinatra
You'd Be So Nice to Come Home to - Sinatra
Nice Work If You Can Get It - favorite version is Sinatra and Peggy Lee, here:

Triangle Man said...

I am less proud of my suggestion if the official title is "The Penis Song" and does not contain the word "nice". When I was cheating on Althouse's quiz and searching song titles online, the site I used gave the title as "Isn't it awfully nice to have a penis".

Oh, and I vote for the Beach Boys. How much nicer can a song be than one in which a boy tells a girl that he wants to be with her all the time and marry her? I'm sure they were sincere too, and not just saying it to get her naked.

Pistolmom said...

Isn't it Nice to be free?

American Liberal Elite said...

How about "She's got freckles on her, but she is nice"?

chickelit said...

Does the song have to have the word "nice" in it?

I voted the Beach Boys from the heart. They were the nice guys in that one. Miles and miles away (but from the same era) were nice gals too:

The Supremes

MadisonMan said...

If the song only has to include the word nice -- as opposed to having it in the title -- I will nominate This Gem

reader_iam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
reader_iam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Curtiss said...

Every now and then I like to do things Nice and Easy.
But somehow I never ever seem to do anything Nice and Easy.
And you know why?
Because we like to do it Nice and Rough.

Chris said...

Ok, this is 70's, but Ambrosia did a song based on Kurt Vonnegut's poem "Nice Nice, Very Nice" - and here it is on youtube:

Also, anything by Keith Emerson and The Nice....

Triangle Man said...

The counter example:
No More Mister Nice Guy

Ann Althouse said...

@Triangle Man Now I know you don't click my links.

Meade said...

And speaking of a Prince, for some reason these words just freak me out.

john said...

I like the Lovin Spoonful. I don't think he lip sinc'd the lyrics in this video, which was "nice" to hear.

Also, I once had the same shirt John Sebastian was wearing.

John Stodder said...

This song doesn't have the word "nice" in the title, but it's sung by a character named Nicely-Nicely Johnson.

And it's a great song.

campy said...

it's sung by a character named Nicely-Nicely

When I first saw the post I was almost going to mention "Sit Down You're Rocking the Boat."

rhhardin said...

Tiffany Eckhardt He's Coming Home (scroll down). Real Audio here (modern real players may ask to download the old SIPR 9 music codec that old players came with; superceded nowadays by a Cooke codec).

I've made the house all nice
Washed my hair
Changed the sheets
And put some flowers on the table there

I get undressed hop into bed
Turn the lights down low
Listen to the rain
And the radio
I won't sleep but ill close my eyes
And I ll be leaving on the bedside light.

Meade said...

Nice, RH. Her voice reminds me of Melanie Safka's.

Lem said...

This song doesn't have the word "nice" in the title,

Same here What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong..

Finally wached "Life is Beautifull" (1997) last night.. it could have used some editing.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Nice Day by Persephone's Bees.

I love that song and the name of the group is fun to say too! Of course, it kind of has a 60's sound to it.

gefillmore said...

I voted for the spoonful but prefer the beach boys as a group much more than spoonful-

here are some excerpts from several items on the internet with some background about 'pet sounds':

"[Brian Wilson] I really wasn't quite ready for the unity. It felt like it all belonged together. Rubber Soul was a collection of songs ... that somehow went together like no album ever made before, and I was very impressed. I said, "That's it. I really am challenged to do a great album."[10]

The Beatles, for example, have said that Pet Sounds was a major influence on their album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Paul McCartney has repeatedly named it as one of his favorite albums (with "God Only Knows" as his favorite song) — completing a circle begun by The Beatles' influence on Wilson. McCartney stated that:

It was Pet Sounds that blew me out of the water. I love the album so much. I've just bought my kids each a copy of it for their education in life ... I figure no one is educated musically 'til they've heard that album ... I love the orchestra, the arrangements ... it may be going overboard to say it's the classic of the century ... but to me, it certainly is a total, classic record that is unbeatable in many ways ... I've often played Pet Sounds and cried. I played it to John [Lennon] so much that it would be difficult for him to escape the influence ... it was the record of the time. The thing that really made me sit up and take notice was the bass lines ... and also, putting melodies in the bass line. That I think was probably the big influence that set me thinking when we recorded Pepper, it set me off on a period I had then for a couple of years of nearly always writing quite melodic bass lines. "God Only Knows" is a big favourite of mine ... very emotional, always a bit of a choker for me, that one. On "You Still Believe in Me", I love that melody - that kills me ... that's my favourite, I think ... it's so beautiful right at the end ... comes surging back in these multi-coloured harmonies ... sends shivers up my spine.[24]

Other artists have also cited Pet Sounds as one of the all time classic albums. Eric Clapton stated that "I consider Pet Sounds to be one of the greatest pop LPs to ever be released. It encompasses everything that's ever knocked me out and rolled it all into one."[25]
Elton John has said of the album, "For me to say that I was enthralled would be an understatement. I had never heard such magical sounds, so amazingly recorded. It undoubtedly changed the way that I, and countless others, approached recording. It is a timeless and amazing recording of incredible genius and beauty."[22]
Beatles producer George Martin stated that "Without Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper wouldn't have happened... Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds."
Bob Dylan has said of Brian Wilson's talents, "That ear — I mean, Jesus, he's got to will that to the Smithsonian."

In 1995, nearly thirty years after its release, a panel of top musicians, songwriters and producers assembled by MOJO magazine voted it "The Greatest Album Ever Made." It was number one in New Musical Express's list "The 100 Best Albums". In 1997, Pet Sounds was named the 26th greatest album of all time in a Music of the Millennium poll conducted in the United Kingdom by HMV, Channel 4, The Guardian and Classic FM. In 2006 Q magazine readers voted it the 18th greatest album of all time; critics of German magazine Spex voted it the best album of the 20th Century; in 2001 the TV network VH1 placed it at #3. The Times magazine ranked it greatest album of all time. It also placed #2 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time behind only Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles. In 2004, it was one of 50 recordings chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry. According to, Pet Sounds is the most acclaimed pop album of all time by music journalists.[6]
In 2006, the album was chosen by TIME as one of the 100 best albums of all time.[26]

gefillmore said...

'Rubber Soul' to 'Pet Sounds' to 'Revolver'

"In December 1965, the Beatles released the album Rubber Soul. The Beach Boys’ leader Brian Wilson would later say it was the first album he’d heard where every song “went together like no album ever made before.” It would greatly influence most of the recording of the Beach Boys’ own album, Pet Sounds, released in May 1966.
Pet Sounds was still very pop-rock, but in it, Wilson and the boys utilized extensive outside instrumentation normally not heard in rock n’ roll recordings. But it was the Beatles who had set that ball rolling with the strings in “Yesterday” and the sitar on “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” both in 1965.
Pet Sounds came out just as the Beatles’ work on their next album, Revolver really started to take off. On Revolver, songs like “Good Day Sunshine” and others emulated the Beach Boys vocal style, and “For No One” was in some ways indebted to the baroque musical stylings of Pet Sounds.
Well, with Revolver, the Beach Boys knew that the Beatles had taken it to another level. Pet Sounds may have been a very tight, unified album, but the Beatles managed to work endless styles of music into the mixture and still end up with an album that felt like it really fit together."

gefillmore said...

and my favorite Beach Boys song (which is on Pet Sounds) is God Only Knows-

""God Only Knows" is the eighth track on the Pet Sounds album and one of the most widely recognized songs performed by American pop band The Beach Boys. It was composed and produced by Brian Wilson, with lyrics by Tony Asher, and the lead vocal was sung by Carl Wilson.
The song broke new ground in many ways. It was one of the first pop songs to use the word 'God' in its title. The song was also far more technically sophisticated than anything the Beach Boys, or arguably any pop group, had ever attempted before - particularly the complicated melodic structure and vocal harmonies. As producer, Brian Wilson also used many unorthodox instruments for the genre, including the harpsichord and French horns that are heard in the song's famous introduction.
Tony Asher has noted the irony that this, one of the all-time great love songs, opens with the line 'I may not always love you' (although the line is turned on its head by the subsequent lines).
Mojo Magazine ranked the song as the 13th greatest song of all time. Pitchfork Media named it the best song of the 1960s. The song is 25th on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time."

gefillmore said...

and my favorite Beatles song (on Revolver), Eleanor Rigby-

"Eleanor Rigby" is a song by The Beatles, originally released on the 1966 album Revolver. The song was primarily written by Paul McCartney.[1] It remains one of The Beatles' most recognizable and unique songs, with a double string quartet arrangement by George Martin, and striking lyrics about loneliness. The song continued the transformation of the group, started in Rubber Soul, from a mainly pop-oriented act to a more serious and experimental studio band.

Triangle Man said...


How embarrassing! I do try to reap the full benefits of the Althouse curriculum by clicking and reading all materials, but I confess I missed that link.

dick said...

how could you miss the old song:

You'd be so nice to come home to

Great song.

Prosqtor said...

Another "nice" pop song is "Nice to be with You" by Gallery
"It's so nice to be with you
I love all the things you say and do
And it's so nice to hear you say
You're going to please me in every way..."

I love both of the Prof's "Nice" songs, but the Lovin Spoonful song is possibly my favorite pop song. The melody is nice, and the lyrics come at love from a different angle than other 60's love song: "you didn't have to be so nice, I would have loved you, anyway..." That is a great line.

This song has always frustrated me as the voice is mixed down and muffled. Sometimes on the radio you can barely hear John Sebastian. I have owned several albums containing the song, and sometimes the mix seems much better than others.

JZ said...

After all these years, I still like both songs, but the pantomiming makes both the videos embarrassing. The Beach Boys are mugging for the camera, as if they're members of the Monkees. The guitar player in the Lovin' Spoonful isn't even trying to act like he's playing the music. Too bad they couldn't actually play their song.

PJ said...

Sorry if I missed a link, but I haven't noticed Astrud Gilberto getting any love on this thread.

I can't verify this link from my current location, but maybe here?

Prosqtor said...

More "nice" pop songs:
"What a Nice Way to Turn 17" by The Crystals
"Ain't That Nice" by The Dixie Cups
"Rice is Nice" by The Lemon Pipers
"Be Nice to Me" by Todd Rundgren

Prosqtor said...

The California Library Systems Cooperative Song Index has a web site which here:

Claims to provide 153 song titles containing the word "nice." However, some of the titles are identical or contain apparent typos.

XWL said...

Searching the song collection on my computer, 16 songs come up when searching nice, in order:

Be Nice to Me, Todd Rundgren --- one of those slow sweet songs from the Todd, he really does little delicate songs well.

Here Comes the Nice, The Small Faces --- one of those, 'I love my drug dealer' songs, 2nd best in the genre in my opinion (to Waiting for the Man by VU)

I Live in a Nice House, Thelonious Monster --- one of those, 'hey, I'm Bob Forrest and my life is really messed up' songs, good stuff that

isnt it nice?, Of Montreal --- From Aldhils Arboretum, hard to come up with any adjective other than 'quirky' when dealing with these kind of songs from this band

Life Can Be So Nice, Prince --- So much is going on in this song, one of the better songs from my favorite album.

(Nice Dream), Radiohead --- Hard to believe The Bends came out 14 years ago. Damn, I'm old, still sounds current. Thom Yorke can sang (sang isn't only the past tense of 'sing', it's also the demonstrative form, don't you know)

Nice Time, Bob Marley --- Early skankiness from Mr. Marley. Not essential, but not bad.

Nice Work If You Can Get It, Thelonious Monk --- Damn, that man could play a piano. Sure he hit the wrong notes, but he managed to always hit the wrong notes at just the right time, so can you really call them mistakes?

Nicest Thing, Kate Nash --- Kind of a Cure feeling to this, strangely, hard to get used to British singers who keep their accent when singing, works for her, though.

So Nice (Samba De Verao), by various --- So I've got 4 versions of this samba classic on my computer, they're all good, probably only the Gilberto version is essential.

Wouldn't It Be Nice, The Beach Boys --- The nicest of all nice songs, amazing song, amazing album.

You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To, Julian 'Cannonball' Adderly --- I love me some west coast jazz.

You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To, Julie London --- How'd that get in there? She did more than just pose for sexy album covers, she also was a pretty decent torch singer.

Also, don't have in my collection, but noticed Chris Brown has a song called Nice, somewhat ironic given current events.

Prosqtor said...

I propose these contenders for the best "good" song and the best "fine" song from the 60s (eh, maybe the 70s too):
"Good Vibrations" and "You're so Good to Me" by The Beach Boys
"Take Good Care of My Baby" by Bobby Vee
"Good Lovin'" by The Racals
"Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'" by Crazy Elephant (yeah, I like sue me)
"Good Golly Miss Molly" by Little Richard and by Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels
"I'm Into Something Good" by Herman's Hermits and sung by our friend Mr. Noone
"You're No Good" by Linda Ronstadt

"I Feel Fine" by The Beatles
"One Fine Day" by The Chiffons
"He's so Fine" by the Chiffons

Additional trivia: Which three of these songs were written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin?

Prosqtor said...

And finally, demonstrating that I am losing neurons at an alarming rate: I realize my quote of "You Didn't Have to Be so Nice" is wrong: "I would have LIKED you anyway..." You would think someone would be able to properly quote a song he claimed was his favorite pop song.

Robert G. said...

The Monks (not the 60s Monks but an English novelty band from the 70s) "Nice Legs, Shame About Her Face"

The Blue Hearts (Legendary Japanese punk band!), "Be Nice"

Sixty Grit said...

I saw The Loving Spoonful perform that song at Shady Grove, back in '66 or so.

But I much prefer Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys - they were unbelievably good. Brian went a little crazy, came back a bit, but in his youth he was the best.

PJ said...

Yikes! Sorry for the skating-rink version. Here's Astrud, but it's not in English so you don't get to hear the nice.

Oh, and Professor: surely you haven't forgotten "Act Nice and Gentle," the B-side of the UK release of the divinely inspired "Waterloo Sunset"?

Lem said...

The word "nice" that Althouse was so nice to leave us with ;) reminds me of a story Charles Grodin told Johnny Carlson one night many years ago..

Candy Bergen and I were filming the movie 11 Harrowhouse in a castle outside London. We were sitting in a room off the main hall where the cameras were being set up. After a few minutes an Englishwoman appeared. I don't know who she was, but she acted as though she had a duchess-or-something title. She said, "Did someone ask you to wait in here?" "No," we answered, a bit taken aback. She responded: "Well, it would be so nice if you weren't here."

As it turns out it was also the title of his bio he must have been pushing.. they had some kind of tv chemistry Grodin and Johnny... It was a "nice" story anyway..

Did I say it was very "nice" of Althouse to have this blog?

Chip Ahoy said...

My first favorite nice song was Three Blind Nice. And I kind of liked Vanilla Nice's , Nice, Nice Baby, until it got waaaaay overplayed. I'm still fond of the work of The Nice Girls -- Sporty Nice, Scary Nice, Baby Nice, Posh Nice and Ginger Nice. I especially like the song Nice Up Your Life.

Chip Ahoy said...

When I was a little kid, my first favorite nice song was Three Blind Nice. And I kind of liked Vanilla Nice's , Nice, Nice Baby, until it got waaaaay overplayed. I'm still fond of the work of The Nice Girls -- Sporty Nice, Scary Nice, Baby Nice, Posh Nice and Ginger Nice. I especially like the song Nice Up Your Life.

Penny said...

I can see why Ann might like this pop sound from her early days. It's a memory nudge.

It's even fun to listen to pop then and pop now. Oh my!

Still a POP! And always logging into the memory calendar somehow...

There isn't one among us who have any trouble chronicling our lives to music.

With all due respect to Ann's teen selections....

I was more of an Animals and Rolling Stones kinda gal.

They were all about the "nasty".

DOING the "nasty". Not BEING the nasty.

I was thinking about both, and doing neither.


Chip Ahoy said...

A very Southern lady invited her friends over for afternoon tea. They hadn’t seen each other in a long while and retired to the covered porch to get better reacquainted. Starting off, the hostess asked platitudinous small-talk questions.

Betsy the hostess: “So tell me, Annabelle, how have you been all this last year?”

Annabelle: “Oh, very nice, thank you. Very nice indeed. For my anniversary Jonathan got me Mercedes Bayunz.”

Betsy: fluffs dress over her knees. “Well, isn’t that naaahce.”

Annabelle: “Tell us Charlotte, what did your husband get you for your anniversary? Huuuuh?”

Charlotte: “Well Annabelle, mah husband, Charlie, bought me the cutest little pied à terre in Myrtle Beach.”

Betsy: re-fluffs dress over her knees, “Well, isn’t that naaahce.”


Charlotte: “Betsy, what did your husband get you for your anniversary? Come on now, do tell.”

Betsy: “Well Charlotte, my husband, Douglas, sent me to Finishing School.”

Charlotte and Annabelle: “What?”

Betsy: “That right. Finishing School.”

Charlotte: “Whatever could a woman refined as yourself learn at Finishing School, Betsy?”

Betsy: “Well, wheahas befoah I might be inclined to blurt out something like FINE! FUCK YOU, THEN, now I just say stuff like,” re-fluffs dress over her knees, “ Well, isn’t that naaahce.”

Lem said...

A Very nice song...

It is said that when someone is tight with their (you know).. their are not "nice" and when they are not (tight) they are said to be "very nice".

Of course I wouldn't know anything about that ;)

Nor do I endorse btw.

Lem said...


Naaahce story Chip :)

Penny said...

I wonder if Betsy does the OTHER "nasty"?

Come on, Chip! Surely you have heard some rumors about this.

Lem said...

DOING the "nasty". Not BEING the nasty.

Ask Men - Dealing with a Breakup

Most men feel too guilty to break up with their girlfriend, postpone it until a later date, and delay the inevitable. Other men simply drop the bomb coldly, without any notice. A man should exit gracefully by planning the break up, to minimize the grief caused to his partner.

It also helps to be "nice" about the breakup, because you never know who your ex will be talking to (her friends, your boss, potential girlfriends).

Kite said...

I love coincidences! I watch the videos while I'm watching Festival on public television- they're showing My Music, My Generation- and then see this:
This really blew my mind!

George M. Spencer said...

Holding hands at midnight
'Neath a starry sky.
Nice work if you can get it.
And you can get it if you try.

Strolling with the one girl—
Sighing sigh after sigh.
Nice work if you can get it.
And you can get it if you try.

Loving one who loves you.
And then taking that vow.
Nice work if you can get it.
And you can get it if you try.

Just imagine someone waiting
At the cottage door
Where two hearts become one
Who could ask for anything more?

Nice work if you can get it.
And you can get it if you try.
And if you get it
Won't you tell me how?



shade said...

Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a
moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was
coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby