“If You Wanna Be Happy” Performed by Jimmy Soul (1963)

September 12, 2007


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This fun song went right to the top of the charts (#1) in 1963. It lives on today as a wedding standard that makes everyone chuckle. How can you not crack up when you listen to these lyrics:

If you wanna be happy
For the rest of your life,
Never make a pretty woman your wife,
So from my personal point of view,
Get an ugly girl to marry you.
2 times

A pretty woman makes her husband look small
And very often causes his downfall.
As soon as he marries her
Then she starts to do
The things that will break his heart.
But if you make an ugly woman your wife,
You’ll be happy for the rest of your life,
An ugly woman cooks her meals on time,
She’ll always give you peace of mind.


Don’t let your friends say
You have no taste,
Go ahead and marry anyway,
Though her face is ugly,
Her eyes don’t match,
Take it from me she’s a better catch.


Say man.
Hey baby.
Saw your wife the other day.
Yeah, she’s ugly.
Yeah, she’s ugly but she sure can cook.
Yeah?. Okay.

CHORUS 4 Times

Biography by Stacia Proefrock

Born on August 24, 1942 in Weldon, NC, Jimmy Soul became a preacher at the age of seven and performed gospel as a teenager, becoming known locally as “the Wonder Boy.” His talent was noticed by Frank Guida, engineer of the legendary Norfolk sound, and was recruited to record some of the calypso-based songs that Guida had hand-picked for one of his other hit artists, Gary U.S. Bonds. Soul’s only two charting hits were both Bonds’ cast-offs, 1962′s “Twistin’ Matilda” and 1963′s number one hit “If You Wanna Be Happy.” That song, with its upbeat, vibrant Caribbean sound, was a huge success and prompted Soul to try to re-create the success of his hit with some fairly derivative West Indian songs such as “Treat ‘Em Tough” and “A Woman Is Smarter in Every Kinda Way,” but he failed to chart again and later joined the Army, giving up his career in music. He died of a heart attack on June 25, 1988, at the age of 45. (Source: All Music Guide)

Sing along to the calypso beat while you play the song here.

Thanks for reading and listening.

PS. I was intrigued about the label that this song was released on and found a discography. Please take a look at some of those titles. They really sound fun and will require further investigation on my part. CIAO.


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Filed under:If You Wanna Be Happy,Jimmy Soul,Number Ones,R&B,Sixties,SPQR

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Margarita June 29, 2010 at 2:36 pm

I heard this song yesterday on the movie “Mermaids.” And that last scene where she’s dancin’ with her daughters in the kitchen is so fun! :)


2 SonDan June 30, 2010 at 11:02 pm

Hi Margarita,

Thanks for the heads up on the appearance of this great song. I have only seen “Mermaids” once and it was so long ago I can’t even recall the plot. I will have to watch it this coming holiday weekend!

Thanks for checking out OSML and please don’t be a stranger. I appreciate your visit.


3 Rachel October 28, 2010 at 7:58 am

And that last scene where she’s dancing with her daughters in the kitchen is so fun. Thanks for the heads up on the appearance of this great song.


4 SonDan October 28, 2010 at 8:33 pm

Great to see you here at OSML Rachel. Thanks so much for participating and please don’t be a stranger.


5 brittany January 10, 2011 at 11:07 pm

My point here is that a big part of music’s allure is its implicit propensity to liberate the hearts and minds of the masses from the daily drudgery of everyday existence. This is the most memorable hit that Jimmy Soul will be most remembered for. So sorry to hear of his passing in 1988 !!


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