Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad...
'Always Look On the Bright Side of Life' is a song written by Eric Idle, the third-tallest member of the British comedy troupe Monty Python. Though Eric Idle is credited as the sole writer of the song, the catchy and distinctive whistled hook is in fact a contribution by Neil Innes, a Python collaborator.
The song was originally featured in the 1979 Python film The Life of Brian. At first, the Pythons weren't sure how to end the film, but while filming in Tunisia, Eric Idle came up with the song. Fellow Python Terry Jones initially wasn't keen on the idea, but they tried it out anyway and decided to use it after all.
The song takes place at the very end of the film when Brian, played by Graham Chapman, is being crucified for involvement in a kidnap plot. A character on a nearby cross, Mr Frisbee III, played by Eric Idle, attempts to cheer up Brian by singing this song, a manifestation of the British custom of keeping a 'stiff upper lip' during a crisis.
Soon, the other people being crucified join in singing and whistling. The film then fades to the music. During this, Mr Frisbee is saying things like 'cheer up, guys' and 'worse things happen at sea, you know' and 'what have you got to lose? Nothing!' An instrumental version of the song is then played later on during the end credits.
A Show Tune
With lyrics likening life to a theatre performance, the song alludes to the Shakespearian expression, 'all the world's a stage'.
Therefore, in 2005, it shouldn't have been too much of a surprise when 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life' became a Broadway 'showtune'. The song is featured twice in Eric Idle's hit Broadway musical Monty Python's Spamalot, based on the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It is sung at the beginning of Act II by Patsy, King Arthur and the ensemble while lost in A Dark and Very Expensive Forest. The musical number involves some rather good tap-dancing and an imitation of the famous scene in Singin' in the Rain. Then at the very end of the show, there is an audience singalong to 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life'.
On 22 March, 2006, 1,789 people with coconut halves banged along to 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life' outside Shubert Theatre in New York City, where Spamalot is currently housed. The 'World's Largest Coconut Orchestra' made it into the Guinness Book of World Records.
Rather Interesting Facts
Alright, that's enough. Better cut to something depressing, like the news.
- In 1982, during the Falklands War, the ship HMS Sheffield was hit by an Exocet missile. While the crew were waiting to be rescued, they began singing 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life'.
- It has been known to be sung at football matches by fans of the losing team.
- In 1991, the song suddenly regained popularity and Eric Idle enjoyed a brief pop star status.
- A special version of the song was recorded for the purpose of radio broadcast. In this, part of the lyrics were changed to 'life's a piece of spit'.
- In 1993 it was announced that the 2000 Summer Olympics would be held in Sydney, Australia. Meanwhile, in Manchester, one of the rival candidate cities to host the Olympics, people began singing 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life'.
- In 1997, Art Garfunkel recorded the song for the soundtrack of the Jack Nicholson movie, As Good as it Gets.
- 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life' has been referred to as Britain's alternative national anthem.
- 'Always Look On the Bright Side of Life' is currently at number three on the list of songs Britons request to be played at their funeral. The first two are 'Angels' by Robbie Williams and 'My Way' by Frank Sinatra.
- In 1989, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, John Cleese, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam sang 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life' at Graham Chapman's memorial service, after Cleese's famous speech.