Johnny Nash – I Can See Clearly Now

First Hit #1: November 4, 1972

Bringing the number one slot its first shot at reggae, Johnny Nash – who can’t be confused with Johnny Cash once the record spins, similar though their names might be – managed to make the most unabashedly optimistic single I’ve heard in a while. If things sucked, now they’re awesome, and everything’s great, albeit expressed in a more artful form than I did right there. This was the decade that the sound started to come into prominence, and while at first listen this seems to be an interesting pop song with a slightly unorthodox backing track, it’s clear that the sound has begun to get more influential and is becoming a bigger part of the popular music landscape.

This is a pop song first, however, and it succeeds because it’s both maddeningly catchy, and because you can’t stay mad at it. While lots of people want to go darker with their art, Nash’s first big hit is enthusiastically and unashamedly light. This is just a song about optimism, and there’s something nice about a song that has no illusions about being anything but a big bundle of happy. And in November, when this thing made its ascent, there’s something almost necessary about having a song that’s just sunshine, rainbows and good times.

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