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Don't Worry Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin

Album: Simple PleasuresReleased: 1988Charted:
1
2
  • This song reached #1 on the US pop charts, which is astounding for a song sung a cappella (without instruments). McFerrin recorded it using only his body to make all the sounds.
  • There were rumors that McFerrin attempted suicide after doing this song, and they are not true. However the rumors became so strong that even to this day people think Bobby is dead. This is untrue, he is alive and well. (thanks, Steven - Arlington Heights, IL, for above 2)
  • The phrase "Don't Worry Be Happy" came from the Indian guru Meher Baba. In an interview with USA Weekend magazine, McFerrin explained that he saw a poster of Meher Baba with the phrase and thought it was "a pretty neat philosophy in four words." See the poster in Song Images.
  • This was featured in the films Cocktail (1988) and Casper - A Spirited Beginning (1997).
  • This won 1988 Grammy Awards for Best Pop Vocal Performance and Song Of The Year.
  • George H. W. Bush used this in his 1988 US presidential campaign but stopped doing so after McFerrin objected.
  • The phrase "Don't Worry Be Happy" was used in some cases to criticize people with a rosy outlook on the world, as if they were oblivious to problems. The most notable use of the phrase in this context came from the Rap group Public Enemy in their song "Fight The Power" when vocalist Chuck D declared: "Don't Worry Be Happy was a number one jam. Damn, if I say it you can slap me right here." Chuck later explained that he had no animosity toward McFerrin or this song, but was using the phrase as a call to action. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
  • Robin Williams appears in the video, as does the lesser-known comedian Bill Irwin.
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Comments: 18

I can't believe that nobody has mentioned that this song was featured in the movie "Jarhead". It was also featured on the soundtrack. Bill Cosby was in the video for this slightly annoying song.
It only got annoying because of too much play back when MTV and VH1 actually showed music videos instead of all the reality show *bleep* that is shown now. Semper fi
Joel - Lawrence, Ks
To Billy of Nederland: This song has never been recorded by Bob Marley. It was released in 1988 - Marley died in 1981.Ben - Perth, Australia
I am singing this song in a choir concert.My friend and I don't like Bob McFerrin's version of this. I like Bob Marley's version.Billy - Nederland , Tx
I still can't believe that this song beat out The Beach Boy's "Kokomo" for Song of the Year in 1988!Stormy - Kokomo, In
Have two or three high-spirited drinks and it'll all make sense... and you'll sing along the chorus all night long. If you are not under this condition, well, "Hakuna Matata" is far better!!.Montse - Verdú, Spain
I was very happy when they stopped playing this song ten times an hour on the radio.Musicmama - New York, Ny
To Jameson of Lexington, KY: McFerrin may have lacked talent or vision, but Bush the Elder lacked taste and discretion. I understand that such things run in families.Musicmama - New York, Ny
Bobby Mcferrin is awsome, and really awsome, it would be awsome to meet him DON'T WORRY BE HAPPY!Mitch - Melboune, Australia
In reply to Kim from New Brunswick, NJ - the song that held "Don't Worry Be Happy" off the #1 spot in the UK was "Orinoco Flow (Sail Away)" by Enya, which topped the UK chart for three weeks in October/November 1988. "Don't Worry Be Happy" was #2 for the second and third of those three weeks. "Orinoco Flow" was less successful in the US, where it only made #24. And Alan, Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada - I've always liked this song and still do, it's so upbeat and positive!Dave - Cardiff, Wales
People who believe that it is bad and irksome, just don't know what good music is and I feel really sorry for them :)
This isn't your average pop song, it is so positive and above this typical music, that there is no way to not like it :)
Elo - Pärnu, Europe
What!? This only went to no. 2 UK!? That's really disappointing, actually. It would have been a much more complete, happy story had it held both top spots. : / It seems like EVERY song goes to number two in the UK. Does anyone know who kept McFerrin out of the top spot?Kim - New Btunswick, Nj
The "Indian guru" listed in the facts, I believe, is Meher Baba. Pete Townshend of The Who is a Baba follower and I've read several references to "Don't worry, be happy" along with Baba.Jenny - Ontario, Canada
this song answers everythingDan - Sydney, Australia
To me, the most irksome aspect of the song was the oh-so-fake Caribbean accent McFerrin affected for it.Robin - Birmingham, Al
Sorry but this has to list as one of the worst songs to reach #1. I've never met anyone whose admitted to liking it.Alan - Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
Haha, talking fish.

I had this song added to the roster, and was extremely surprised it wasn't added before. It was insanely popular when it was released. I grew up listening to the whole album, so there will always be a soft spot for McFerrin, even though many people dislike this song (after a while listening to it non stop gets a bit annoying, and then it became so popular that Bob couldn't do anything as good or better that he became known as a one hit wonder).
Unfortunately that's what he'll be known as, a one hit wonder. I don't think he ever believed he'd get that popular, and it sorta ruined his pop music career, but he's moved on to better things.
Steven - Arlington Heights, Il
That's hilarious Jameson! Too bad nobody but u and me are talking here. On another subject, this song is on the infamous talking fish along with "Take me to the River." My friend once but it on his bike and we rode through LA blasting those songs!Johnny - Los Angeles, Ca
In 1988, the George H. W. Bush presidential campaign wanted to use this as a campaign song. McFerrin refused.Jameson - Lexington, Ky