Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
"Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" is a popular song written by Eric Idle
Eric Idle
Eric Idle is an English comedian, actor, author, singer, writer, and comedic composer. He was as a member of the British comedy group Monty Python, a member of the The Rutles on Saturday Night Live and author of the play, Spamalot....

 that was originally featured in the 1979 film Monty Python's Life of Brian
Monty Python's Life of Brian
Monty Python's Life of Brian, also known as Life of Brian, is a 1979 British comedy film written, directed and largely performed by the Monty Python comedy team...

and has gone on to become a common singalong at public events such as football matches as well as funerals.


Whilst trying to come up with a way of ending the film Monty Python's Life of Brian
Monty Python's Life of Brian
Monty Python's Life of Brian, also known as Life of Brian, is a 1979 British comedy film written, directed and largely performed by the Monty Python comedy team...

, Eric Idle
Eric Idle
Eric Idle is an English comedian, actor, author, singer, writer, and comedic composer. He was as a member of the British comedy group Monty Python, a member of the The Rutles on Saturday Night Live and author of the play, Spamalot....

 wrote an original version of the song which was sung in a more straight fashion, which the other Python members agreed would be good enough for the end of the film. Whilst practising the song, during a break in filming, Idle found that the song worked better if sung in a more cheeky manner. This new version was used in the film and became one of the Python's most famous songs.

Brian Cohen (played by Graham Chapman
Graham Chapman
Graham Arthur Chapman was a British comedian, physician, writer, actor, and one of the six members of the Monty Python comedy troupe.-Early life and education:...

) has been sentenced to death by crucifixion for his part in a kidnap plot. After a succession of apparent rescue opportunities all come to nothing, a character on a nearby cross (played by Eric Idle) attempts to cheer him up by singing "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" to him. As the song progresses, many of the other crucifixion victims (140 in all, according to the script, though twenty-three crosses are actually seen on screen) begin to dance in a very limited way and join in with the song's whistled hook. The song continues as the scene changes to a long-shot of the crosses and the credits begin to roll. An instrumental version plays over the second half of the credits.

"Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" was conceived as a parody
A parody , in current usage, is an imitative work created to mock, comment on, or trivialise an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of humorous, satiric or ironic imitation...

 of the style of song often featured in Disney
The Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company is the largest media conglomerate in the world in terms of revenue. Founded on October 16, 1923, by Walt and Roy Disney as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, Walt Disney Productions established itself as a leader in the American animation industry before diversifying into...

 films. It may be considered an answer song
Answer song
An answer song is, as the name suggests, a song made in answer to a previous song, normally by another artist. It is also known as a response song. The concept became widespread in blues and R&B recorded music in the 1930s through 1950s...

 to the entire genre, but particularly to songs such as "Give a Little Whistle" from Pinocchio
Pinocchio (1940 film)
Pinocchio is a 1940 American animated film produced by Walt Disney and based on the story The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. It is the second film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics, and it was made after the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and was released to theaters by...

. Its appearance at the end of the film, when the central character seems certain to die, is deliberately ironic
Irony is a rhetorical device, literary technique, or situation in which there is a sharp incongruity or discordance that goes beyond the simple and evident intention of words or actions...

The song opens with an introductory verse (half-sung with an acoustic guitar backing on the soundtrack album and most subsequent versions, though simply spoken unaccompanied in the film itself):

Some things in life are bad,

They can really make you mad.

Other things just make you swear and curse.

When you're chewing on life's gristle,

Don't grumble, give a whistle,

And this'll help things turn out for the best, and...

This deviation from the standard rhyme scheme (with 'best' replacing the expected 'worse' to rhyme with 'curse') leads into the first appearance of the chorus, which consists of the title and a whistled tune. A second verse continues in a similar vein, and the third and fourth verses move on to discuss the situation (namely, imminent death) in which Brian now finds himself, and alludes to the Shakespearean
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 cliché that 'all the world's a stage':

Life's a piece of shit,

When you look at it.

Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true.

You'll see it's all a show,

Keep 'em laughing as you go.

Just remember that the last laugh is on you.

The whistled hook is an uncredited contribution from Idle
Eric Idle
Eric Idle is an English comedian, actor, author, singer, writer, and comedic composer. He was as a member of the British comedy group Monty Python, a member of the The Rutles on Saturday Night Live and author of the play, Spamalot....

's frequent collaborator Neil Innes
Neil Innes
Neil James Innes is an English writer and performer of comic songs, best known for his collaborative work with Monty Python, and for playing in the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and later The Rutles.-Personal life:...

. One occurrence in the final chorus was omitted at the insistence of the film's executive producer George Harrison
George Harrison
George Harrison, MBE was an English musician, guitarist, singer-songwriter, actor and film producer who achieved international fame as lead guitarist of The Beatles. Often referred to as "the quiet Beatle", Harrison became over time an admirer of Indian mysticism, and introduced it to the other...

, so as not to obscure a pet phrase in John Altman's orchestral arrangement.

The song appeared on the film soundtrack album, listed as "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (All Things Dull and Ugly)". The subtitle does not appear in the actual song, and is only used on the soundtrack album. Confusingly, "All Things Dull and Ugly" was also the title of an unrelated track on Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album
Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album
Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album is an album released by Monty Python in 1980, a mixture of songs, new sketches and some rerecorded pre-Python work. As the title suggests, the album was put together to complete a contract with Charisma Records...

(released only a few months later), which is a parody of the popular hymn "All Things Bright and Beautiful
All Things Bright and Beautiful
All Things Bright and Beautiful is an Anglican hymn, also popular with other Christian denominations.The piece can be sung to several melodies, in particular the 17th-century English melody "Royal Oak", adapted by Martin Shaw, and "Bright and Beautiful" by William Henry Monk...


The song was also released on the B-side of the single
Single (music)
In music, a single or record single is a type of release, typically a recording of fewer tracks than an LP or a CD. This can be released for sale to the public in a variety of different formats. In most cases, the single is a song that is released separately from an album, but it can still appear...

 "Brian Song", the film's opening theme (performed by Sonia Jones). It is likely that the claim made by Idle in the spoken fade-out that "this record is available in the foyer" was actually true in some cinemas.

The song touched a chord with the British trait of stoicism
Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early . The Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgment, and that a sage, or person of "moral and intellectual perfection," would not suffer such emotions.Stoics were concerned...

 and the 'stiff upper lip
Stiff upper lip
One who has a stiff upper lip displays fortitude in the face of adversity, or exercises great self-restraint in the expression of emotion. The phrase is most commonly heard as part of the idiom "keep a stiff upper lip", and has traditionally been used to describe an attribute of British people ,...

' in the face of disaster, and became immensely popular. When the destroyer HMS Sheffield
HMS Sheffield (D80)
HMS Sheffield was the second Royal Navy ship to be named after the city of Sheffield in Yorkshire. She was a Type 42 Guided Missile Destroyer laid down by Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering at Barrow-in-Furness on 15 January 1970, launched on 10 June 1971 and commissioned on 16 February 1975.An...

 was struck by an Exocet
The Exocet is a French-built anti-ship missile whose various versions can be launched from surface vessels, submarines, helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. Hundreds were fired in combat during the 1980s.-Etymology:...

 cruise missile
Cruise missile
A cruise missile is a guided missile that carries an explosive payload and is propelled, usually by a jet engine, towards a land-based or sea-based target. Cruise missiles are designed to deliver a large warhead over long distances with high accuracy...

 on May 4, 1982 in the Falklands War
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

, her crew sang it while waiting to be rescued from their sinking ship, as did the crew of HMS Coventry
HMS Coventry (D118)
HMS Coventry was a Type 42 destroyer of the Royal Navy. Laid down by Cammell Laird and Company, Limited, at Birkenhead on 29 January 1973, she was launched on 21 June 1974 and accepted into service on 20 October 1978 at a cost of £37,900,000.She was sunk by Argentine Air Force A-4 Skyhawks on 25...


When Chapman died on October 4, 1989, the five remaining Python members, as well as Chapman's close relations, came together at his private funeral to sing "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" as part of Idle's eulogy
A eulogy is a speech or writing in praise of a person or thing, especially one recently deceased or retired. Eulogies may be given as part of funeral services. However, some denominations either discourage or do not permit eulogies at services to maintain respect for traditions...

. In 2005, a survey by Music Choice
Music Choice
Music Choice is a United States company that programs music and produces music-related content for digital cable, cell phones, and cable modem subscribers in the US. Music Choice programs dozens of audio music channels for digital cable subscribers, as well as programs and produces music-related...

 showed that it was the third most popular song Britons would like played at their funerals.

The single

"Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" became particularly popular in the early 1990s. The film had retained a cult status in the intervening years. Around 1990, the title refrain and hook (either whistled as in the original, or vocalised as 'da-dum, da-da da-da da-dum') began to gain currency as a football chant
Football chant
A football chant or terrace chant, is a song or chant sung at association football matches. They can be historic, dating back to the formation of the club, adaptations of popular songs, or spontaneous reactions to events on the pitch. They are one of the last remaining sources of an oral folk song...

. This came to the attention of BBC Radio 1
BBC Radio 1
BBC Radio 1 is a British national radio station operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation which also broadcasts internationally, specialising in current popular music and chart hits throughout the day. Radio 1 provides alternative genres after 7:00pm including electronic dance, hip hop, rock...

 DJ Simon Mayo
Simon Mayo
Simon Mayo is an English radio presenter who has worked for BBC Radio since 1981. As of January 2010, Mayo is presenter of Simon Mayo Drivetime on BBC Radio 2 and, with Mark Kermode, presenter of Kermode and Mayo's Film Reviews on BBC Radio 5 Live.In 2008, Mayo was recognised as the "radio...

, whose breakfast show had a track record of reviving old novelty song
Novelty song
A novelty song is a comical or nonsensical song, performed principally for its comical effect. Humorous songs, or those containing humorous elements, are not necessarily novelty songs. The term arose in Tin Pan Alley to describe one of the major divisions of popular music. The other two divisions...

s. Mayo began playing the original version on his show, which led to EMI re-issuing the track as a single in September 1991.

The single (which was backed with two tracks from Contractual Obligation, "I Bet You They Won't Play This Song on the Radio
I Bet You They Won't Play This Song on the Radio
"I Bet You They Won't Play This Song on the Radio" is a song performed by Eric Idle, an English comedian and member of Monty Python. It mocks radio censorship of words considered inappropriate . Another similar song, also by Idle, is "The FCC Song", whose refrain "Fuck you very much" is directed...

" and "I'm So Worried") also doubled up as promotion for the recently-released compilation Monty Python Sings
Monty Python Sings
Monty Python Sings is a comedy album of songs written by the Monty Python team.The song "Oliver Cromwell" was never released prior to this album...

. (The original pressing also featured a German language version of "The Lumberjack Song
The Lumberjack Song
"The Lumberjack Song" is a song by the Monty Python comedy troupe. The song was written by Terry Jones, Michael Palin, and Fred Tomlinson.It first appeared on the ninth episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus, "The Ant: An Introduction" on BBC1 on 14 December 1969...

", though this was quickly withdrawn and is now a collector's item.) The single reached the top ten in October and prompted a deliberately chaotic performance by Idle on Top of the Pops
Top of the Pops
Top of the Pops, also known as TOTP, is a British music chart television programme, made by the BBC and originally broadcast weekly from 1 January 1964 to 30 July 2006. After 25 December 2006 it became a radio program, now hosted by Tony Blackburn...

. Despite some perhaps over-enthusiastic predictions, it did not manage to bring an end to Bryan Adams
Bryan Adams
Bryan Adams, is a Canadian rock singer-songwriter, guitarist, bassist, producer, actor and photographer. Adams has won dozens of awards and nominations, including 20 Juno Awards among 56 nominations. He has also received 15 Grammy Award nominations including a win for Best Song Written...

' unprecedented run at the top of the UK Singles Chart
UK Singles Chart
The UK Singles Chart is compiled by The Official Charts Company on behalf of the British record-industry. The full chart contains the top selling 200 singles in the United Kingdom based upon combined record sales and download numbers, though some media outlets only list the Top 40 or the Top 75 ...

 with "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You
(Everything I Do) I Do It for You
" I Do It for You" is a power ballad performed by Bryan Adams and co-written with Michael Kamen and Robert John "Mutt" Lange, featured on the soundtrack album from the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and on Adams' album Waking Up the Neighbours...

", instead peaking at number 3. Following this attention, the song became more popular than ever. Two cover versions, by Tenor Fly (incorporating the piano riff from Nina Simone
Nina Simone
Eunice Kathleen Waymon , better known by her stage name Nina Simone , was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist widely associated with jazz music...

's "My Baby Just Cares for Me
My Baby Just Cares for Me
"My Baby Just Cares for Me" is a jazz standard written by Walter Donaldson with lyrics by Gus Kahn. It was written for the 1930 film version of the 1928 Ziegfeld musical comedy Whoopee!, starring Eddie Cantor. It is known as the signature tune of singer and pianist Nina Simone.-Nina Simone...

"), and the cast of Coronation Street
Coronation Street
Coronation Street is a British soap opera set in Weatherfield, a fictional town in Greater Manchester based on Salford. Created by Tony Warren, Coronation Street was first broadcast on 9 December 1960...

, both reached the charts in 1995.

Eric Idle recorded alternate lyrics for the radio version, with the swearing censored, and the comments about the end of the film replaced with references to the end of the record, and continued rants about old people. This version was released on CD, cassette and vinyl via the compilation album Now 20 in November 1991.

Track listing

  1. "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life"
  2. "I Bet You They Won't Play This Song on the Radio
    I Bet You They Won't Play This Song on the Radio
    "I Bet You They Won't Play This Song on the Radio" is a song performed by Eric Idle, an English comedian and member of Monty Python. It mocks radio censorship of words considered inappropriate . Another similar song, also by Idle, is "The FCC Song", whose refrain "Fuck you very much" is directed...

  3. "I'm So Worried"


Harry Nilsson
Harry Nilsson
Harry Edward Nilsson III was an American singer-songwriter who achieved the peak of his commercial success in the early 1970s. On all but his earliest recordings he is credited as Nilsson...

 performed the song as the closing track on his 1980 album, Flash Harry
Flash Harry (album)
Flash Harry is the sixteenth and final album by Harry Nilsson. Originally released only in the UK and Japan, it has never been released in the U.S. . Aside from bootlegs the album has never been released on CD. When the album was originally released it received minimal support from Harry's label...


In 1997, the song was recorded by Art Garfunkel
Art Garfunkel
Arthur Ira "Art" Garfunkel is an American singer-songwriter, poet, and actor, best known as being a member of the folk duo Simon & Garfunkel...

 and included in the soundtrack of James L. Brooks
James L. Brooks
James Lawrence Brooks is an American director, producer and screenwriter. Growing up in North Bergen, New Jersey, Brooks endured a fractured family life and passed the time by reading and writing. After dropping out of New York University, he got a job as an usher at CBS, going on to write for the...

' film As Good as It Gets
As Good as It Gets
As Good as It Gets is a 1997 American romantic comedy film directed by James L. Brooks and produced by Laura Ziskin. It stars Jack Nicholson as a misanthropic, obsessive-compulsive novelist, Helen Hunt as a single mother with an asthmatic son, and Greg Kinnear as a gay artist. The screenplay was...

. Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson
John Joseph "Jack" Nicholson is an American actor, film director, producer and writer. He is renowned for his often dark portrayals of neurotic characters. Nicholson has been nominated for an Academy Award twelve times, and has won the Academy Award for Best Actor twice: for One Flew Over the...

 sings the song fleetingly in the film itself with the minor addition of "your" in "brighter side of [your] life". Garfunkel's version replaced the risqué phrase "Life's a piece of shit" with the more family-friendly "Life's a counterfeit" ("Life is hit or miss" has also replaced the lyric as with wedding bands and live radio).

It was also performed by Bruce Cockburn
Bruce Cockburn
Bruce Douglas Cockburn OC is a Canadian folk/rock guitarist and singer-songwriter. His most recent album was released in March 2011. He has written songs in styles ranging from folk to jazz-influenced rock to rock and roll.-Biography:...

 and released on his 1990 Live CD.

The Brobdingnagian Bards
Brobdingnagian Bards
-History:Marc Gunn, formerly of Austin Texas' alternative rock bands Skander and Breastfed, released a solo album featuring himself on autoharp and Andrew McKee on recorder in 1998...

 recorded it for the CD A Faire to Remember
A Faire to Remember
A Faire to Remember is a mix of Renaissance Fair favorites, classic Celtic tunes, as well as some original comedic works from the Bards."If I Had a Million Ducats" is a parody of the Barenaked Ladies' hit song "If I Had $1000000". "Irish Ballad" is a cover of the song by satirist Tom Lehrer...


American musician Emilie Autumn
Emilie Autumn
Emilie Autumn Liddell , better known by her stage name Emilie Autumn, is an American singer-songwriter, poet, and violinist. Autumn draws influence for her music—the style of which she has alternatively labeled as "Victoriandustrial" and glam rock—from plays, novels, and history, particularly the...

 performed a harpsichord cover of the song for her compilation album A Bit o' This & That
A Bit O' This & That
A Bit o' This & That is a rarities, b-sides, remixes, and covers album by Emilie Autumn that includes music from her early years. It was released on iTunes on April 23 2007, and on August 17 later that year in a Limited Edition Digipak format, with just 3000 copies being distributed worldwide.It...


Heavens Gate recorded a metal cover of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" for the album Hell for Sale!.

Green Day
Green Day
Green Day is an American punk rock band formed in 1987. The band consists of lead vocalist and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist and backing vocalist Mike Dirnt, and drummer Tre Cool...

 has used it in their rendition of "Shout" on their concert DVD Bullet in a Bible
Bullet in a Bible
-Certifications:-Personnel:* Billie Joe Armstrong – lead vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, harmonica* Mike Dirnt – bass, backing vocals* Tré Cool – drums, percussion-Additional musicians:* Jason White – lead guitar, rhythm guitar, backing vocals...


German fun metal band J.B.O.
J.B.O. is a heavy metal band from Erlangen, Germany. J.B.O. was founded in 1989 by Vito C. and Hannes "G.Laber" Holzmann and is known for parodies of rock and pop songs...

 made a version with changed lyrics (Always Look on the Dark Side of Life) for their album Sex Sex Sex.

German fun punk band Heiter bis Wolkig also made a version with changed lyrics called "Versuch's mal von der breiten Seite zu seh'n"

In popular culture

The song appears twice in the Broadway musical Spamalot
Monty Python's Spamalot is a musical comedy "lovingly ripped off from" the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Like the film, it is a highly irreverent parody of the Arthurian Legend, but it differs from the film in many ways, especially in its parodies of Broadway theatre...

, based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a 1974 British comedy film written and performed by the comedy group Monty Python , and directed by Gilliam and Jones...

– once in Act II and again during the curtain call
Curtain call
A curtain call occurs at the end of a performance when individuals return to the stage to be recognized by the audience for their performance. In musical theater, the performers typically recognize the orchestra and its conductor at the end of the curtain call...

. It is one of two Monty Python song in the musical not taken from the original movie, along with the "Finland" song; other songs were either from Holy Grail or were new creations.

The song is used at the end of Not the Messiah (He's a Very Naughty Boy)
Not the Messiah (He's a Very Naughty Boy)
Not the Messiah is a Monty Python comedic oratorio based on Monty Python's Life of Brian. It was written by former Python Eric Idle and collaborator John Du Prez, and commissioned by the Luminato festival....

, the comedic oratorio written by Eric Idle and collaborator John Du Prez
John Du Prez
John Du Prez is a musician, conductor, and composer. Du Prez was a member of the 1980s multi-hit Salsa-driven pop band Modern Romance and has since written several Film scores including Oxford Blues and the final Carry On film, Carry On Columbus...

. On 13 November 2008, Idle performed the song as the finale of We Are Most Amused
We Are Most Amused
We Are Most Amused was a gala event held at the New Wimbledon Theatre on 12 November 2008 in honour of the 60th birthday of Charles, Prince of Wales, in aid of The Prince's Trust. Prince Charles attended the event with his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and youngest son Prince Harry.The show...

, a comedy show at the New Wimbledon Theatre
New Wimbledon Theatre
The New Wimbledon Theatre is situated on The Broadway, Wimbledon, London, in the London Borough of Merton. It is a Grade II listed Edwardian theatre built by the theatre lover and entrepreneur, J B Mullholland. Built on the site of a large house with spacious grounds the theatre was designed by...

 to celebrate Prince Charles's 60th birthday.

In April 2007, over 4,000 people gathered in Trafalgar Square in London in a successful attempt to create a new official Guinness world record for the largest number of people playing simultaneously in a coconut orchestra (i.e. banging coconut shells together in time to the music). The song used for the record attempt was "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life". A video of the event can be seen on YouTube
YouTube is a video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos....


External links

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