Minimum Gauge: David Byrne Launches Good News Site 'Reasons to Be Cheerful'

Plus, Barack Obama shares the songs he's jamming to as the world burns and Hasbro adds record labels like Dualtone and Death Row to its toy empire

Aug 26, 2019 at 2:21 pm

click to enlarge David Byrne - Photo: Jody Rogac
Photo: Jody Rogac
David Byrne
HOT: In Other (Good) News

Obviously, no matter the era, a dose of positive-minded current-event news is a welcome reprieve from the misfortune and negativity of the usual news of the day. But today — with everything from refugee abuse to speculation about nuking hurricanes dominating the discourse — good news feels like a mental-health imperative. Music legend David Byrne is doing his part to help alleviate the stress of headline browsing with his new Reasons to Be Cheerful website, which shares stories written by professionals and experts “meant to inspire and uplift.” Byrne says he came up with the idea for the solutions-oriented news site ( after finding himself “depressed half the day” just from reading the morning newspaper. Early stories have included pieces on college education programs for inmates and an arts community in a small town in India. Byrne had started the project in 2016, but recently re-launched it on a broader, more formal scale, with an eye on expanding into video, live events, podcasts and other mediums.

Welcome to Reasons to be Cheerful from Reasons to be Cheerful on Vimeo.

WARM: Presidential Playlist

When our current president makes music-related news, it’s often been about how artists like The Rolling Stones or Neil Young are furious that he uses their music at his rallies. But our previous president recently celebrated his love of music in a much more agreeable manner and none of the musicians spotlighted are even slightly upset about it — in fact, most were beyond thrilled to be included. Barack Obama shared a list of his and his wife’s favorite music of late, a fairly regular practice for the former first couple. Their eclectic “Summer Playlist 2019” includes Pop hits (like “Senorita” by Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello and “Juice” by Lizzo), hip choices like Koffee’s “Toast,” Sharon Van Etten’s “Seventeen” and GoldLink’s “Joke Ting” and older classics by The Spinners, Steely Dan, Ella Fitzgerald, A Tribe Called Quest, Charles Mingus and Lauryn Hill.

COLD: Hasbro Toys with Music

The huge toy and board game company Hasbro — known for things like Mr. Potato Head and Monopoly — has become a music biz player after the recent purchase of entertainment/media company Entertainment One. The $4 billion deal was reportedly fueled by a desire to own lucrative properties like Peppa Pig and PJ Masks, but Hasbro will also now own a few record companies, including Dualtone (home to Americana acts like Robert Earl Keen, The Lumineers and Shovels & Rope) and the pioneering Gangsta Rap label Death Row, known for non-family-friendly albums by Snoop Dogg and 2Pac.