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Beautiful Music: The Soundtrack of Our Lives

Man and woman relaxing by fire listening to music and playing chess for The Soundtrack of Our Lives post on ModernRetroWoman.com 650x650

Dear Friends,

A new grocery store opened up in town recently.  So, shopping list in hand, The Mister and I checked it out.  Within the first five minutes we knew we weren’t the target shopper.  How did we know?  By the music playing the background.  It was aggressive, edgy, and loud.  We went into the store curious.  We left totally stressed out.

The Mister felt the urge to go home and yell at someone to get off of his lawn.  I just wanted to lie down with a cold compress.

Instead, I turned on some “beautiful music.”  If you’ve seen a mid-20th century romantic movie, you’ve heard what has been called beautiful music.  This genre of music is characterized by lush orchestral arrangements. During the mid-century, supermarkets, doctors’ offices, and, yes, even elevators, played beautiful music in the background.  In the movies, this type of music was designed to convey a certain domestic serenity and so beautiful music also became known as “mood music.”  Eventually, the term mood music expanded to mean music that fits the mood you are in, such as “road trip music.”

A lot of people don’t realize this but Jackie Gleason (yes, THAT, one) was a master at putting studio musicians together to create outstanding albums*.  Under the headline, “Jackie Gleason Presents…” we are provided with lush music that enables us to imagine that we are starring in our own movies about gracious living.

Beautiful Music on YouTube

I discovered high quality beautiful music while rummaging around in YouTube one day.  After that, I was hooked.  And the best part is that the best playlists give me hours of uninterrupted music from aficionados who are dedicated to finding and transferring the original vinyl records into digital format for the rest of us to enjoy.

Who to Follow

  • Gustavo Morales Battaglini – It seems like most of my favorite albums have been uploaded by “GMB” as he tags them.  It may be my imagination but the albums are usually quite romantic.
  • Dr. Hofmann’s Electric Kool-Aid Party – His collection is more eclectic than GMB’s but still worth following.
  • Brian Hendricks – It was Brian’s albums and playlists that introduced me to the world of beautiful music.  He specializes in jazz (how I came across his collection) and space pop (fun but not my style of music).

Three Favorite YouTube Playlists


This playlist consists of mostly “Jackie Gleason presents” music.  There are a couple of jarring additions to the list but I usually just skip those albums using the >| button on the YouTube player.



This playlist primarily features albums by Paul Weston, another master of lush orchestral music.


This playlist is for those quiet evenings at home.  This is the playlist that reminds me the most of background music in mid-century romantic movies.

What We Listen to Impacts How We See the World

There is a reciprocal relationship between the music we listen to and how we see the world.  In a study, researchers found that visual perception was impacted by the mood of the music the subjects were listening to. Essentially, subjects who listened to happy music (chosen by the subjects) saw happy faces.  Subjects who listened to sad music (again, chosen by the subjects), saw sad faces.  There were also “false positives” during the study.  For example, subjects listening to sad music would claim that happy faces shown to them were sad faces.  It is not far fetched to assume that other types of mood music also impact how we view the world.

Since we are striving for a gracious lifestyle, it is important that we examine the kind of music we are listening to.  Does the music support our desire to live serenely and graciously, or is it having a negative impact on helping us be the kind of women we want to be?

Your Turn

In the comments, below, or on the Modern Retro Woman Facebook page share with us how music impacts your moods.

Until next time, have a fabulous Technicolor day!

Dr. JulieAnn

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Image source: Pepsi advertisement, 1957, courtesy of Classic Film on Flickr.com

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  1. When I was a child in the ’50s, we bought one or two Christmas LPs every year, and one year we happened onto Jackie Gleason’s Christmas album. If you like orchestrations– and a rather pensive sound, you would love this collection. (Not sure we can still say “album.”) To me, it’s just quintessential “Christmas at Home.”

    I have always loved music with a rich full sound. I think that’s what music is — and should be. And now — with thanks for this lovely post — I will stop.

  2. Thank you for showing us these playlists. I’m listening to “Mood Music in Hi-Fi” and I feel like I’m in an old movie. 🙂

    This might sound kind of silly, but sometimes I like to play the Peter Gunn Theme on repeat while I’m driving because it makes me feel like I’m in a movie.

  3. That is so funny — Army Husband and I went to Macy’s a year or so ago and had the same experience. Based on the music blaring at us, we knew they wouldn’t carry anything for middle-aged people. LOL! It was kid of handy, actually, as it saved us time and we moved on to the next store in the mall.

    I want to share a link to Past Perfect Vintage Music, a YouTube channel I recently found and am really enjoying: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCS5Kf46fEYqANmFLS0nM62g There are lots of great playlists with music from the 1920s – 1950s.

  4. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; you somehow have an uncanny ability to post these at the right time! It’s such a true fact that music has a powerful influence on our minds, bodies and souls; I recently endured through a tough time and I was left in a stress mess. But hearing these beautiful musical pieces has helped me to feel calm enough to shoo away the stress, so I just wanted to say thank you for showing us these playlists!

    I especially love “Music, Martinis and Memories”: I feel like I’m right in the middle of a mid-century film, with my own costume to wear, my own role to fulfill and my own story to tell. 🙂

    Personally speaking for myself, I admit to having a bit of an eclectic view on music. I generally love music, and I feel I have a bit of a strong tendency to react to it or imagine to it depending on how I’m feeling or if I need something to put on to help me ease into a certain mood. I kind of love many genres of music (there are some exceptions of course, ha ha!). One example might be Danny and the Juniors’ “Rock and Roll is Here to Stay” or an orchestral piece by Henry Mancini, John Williams or George Gershwin. I especially love jazz, soundtrack music, world music and the ’50s equivalent of pop and rock and roll; they can, I feel, inspire people to sit back and relax and use the music as a way of meditation or just feel happy.

    I tend to gear towards music that’s more positive and inspiring than anything, but I admit there are some moments when I listen to songs considered more darker and somber when I need some help in accepting whatever I’m feeling at the moment before turning to something more lighter and hopeful to feel refreshed and upbeat again.

    Music is a wonderful thing we have on this planet; it’s certainly no wonder it’s a universal language!

    Thanks, ma’am, for another wonderful and thoughtful post! 🙂

    @everyone: I really love the choices of music everyone has here. They’re all wonderful musical pieces! Maria, thanks for giving the link to Past Perfect Vintage Music! It looks so wonderful with all of those playlists and I can’t wait to listen to them. 🙂

    I, too, would like to share a link to a YouTube channel I’ve found and am really happy to have found! https://www.youtube.com/user/Discofelsi/featured
    This person has compiled a few playlists of a few music genres: Christmas music, country music and soundtrack music. Enjoy!

  5. My mom (1941 -2002) always had WPAT, NYC’s beautiful music station, on later in the afternoons to relax with. I’ve adopted the same habit, but WPAT is long gone. There are options available across the web, but MusicChoice also offers a station. I also turn it on when I need to do some serious work when Classical or Jazz would be too distracting!

  6. I definitely agree with your post. Music in many stores nowadays can be quite annoying, and I often find myself questioning the terms and phrases used in the songs–which are occasionally offensive to the ears.
    I would agree with Francesca in reference to having an eclectic view on music. For different moods or seasons, I lean towards certain genres. But in general, I like constructive music.
    I stumbled upon some “mood music” a while ago on YouTube and I enjoy it immensely. I’ve listened to the Paul Weston album “Moonlight Becomes You”, and was glad to see that you had suggested it in this post. It is among my favorites! Although, I have to say that my go-to album is “Red Velvet” by Stanley Black, uploaded by GMB. “Dancing in the Dark” by Hill Bowen is another, also uploaded by GMB.
    I’ve found that ballet/classical music, namely Tchaikovsky’s works, can be relaxing. Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and The Sleeping Beauty include many wonderful mellow/happy pieces. (However, such music can be a bit distracting and may not fit under the idea of background music. I am usually whisked away from the tasks at hand when I listen to these in particular.) Also, Strauss’s waltz “Vienna Blood Op. 354” is beautiful and uplifting. (I prefer the more dramatic version from the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Eugene Ormandy, but there are other versions that are more subdued which are still gorgeous.)
    The YouTube channel HALIDONMUSIC uploads several playlists of various genres, topics, time-periods, composers, etc. I would recommend this channel to anyone who likes any kind of music. There is a vast selection. One of my favorite playlists from there is titled “The Best of Swing – Swing & Jazz Collection” and is a mix of Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, and more:

    Thanks all for your contributions! I look forward to listening to your suggestions!

  7. I hadn’t checked your blog in a while so as I was reading through posts and stumbled on this one it intrigued me. As soon as I clicked on one of the videos and the music played, I can honestly say that a lot of tension melted away. It really is amazing the effect music and any form of entertainment or association can have on us.

  8. I’ve never thought of it as ‘beautiful’ music, but it is indeed the appropriate term. I love this type of music, and I’ve hade neighbor comment on how soothing it is to have playing in the background when they visit. I also like the renditions that Linda Rondstadt did of the old classics in the 1980’s.
    I listen to this type of music at work through TuneIn Radio (several channels to choose from), as well as Old Time Radio programs (Crime/Comedy etc).
    And, my niece married a man named Lombardo, so every Christmas I’ve given him a Guy Lombardo album – he loves them! (they are in their early 30’s).

  9. This post resonated strongly with me. I am 51; Hubby is 57. We can no longer bear to shop in some of the stores catering to the younger demographic, since the music is so painfully jarring and anxiety-inducing. We go to the web for music choices that are more suitable. Two of my favourite radio stations are jazzradio.com (for 8 dollars a month we get all the jazz we want) – try the Mellow Jazz channel – and Radio Dismuke, which plays hits of the 20s and 30s.

    I don’t fit with this modern world, as you yourself said in another post. It’s too aggressive, too loud, too ‘in your face’. I’m a lover of old movies (Edward G. Robinson is my favourite actor) and old time radio dramas – Rocky Jordan is top of my list right now, but there are others.

    Thank you for creating a blog for those of us who want graciousness and calm in our lives.

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