A Silly Idea, Realized: I Feel Stressed Out
Liz and I were in the kitchen one morning. I forget what we were talking about, but I was getting a little worked up. Suddenly, out of the blue, she started singing a few lines from “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” by the Beatles.
I remembered that just last week, the Beatles’ music finally made its way to streaming music services (RIP Radio). So I pulled up the song on my phone, turned up the volume, and played it in the kitchen.
Hearing the song instantly made me feel more relaxed. I don’t even remember what I was getting all worked up about – it pretty much just disappeared. It’s hard to listen to this song and be unhappy.
Standing there in the kitchen, I thought it would be a nice app idea if your watch/phone somehow detected your pulse, and automatically played this song when it got above a certain rate. Kind of an automated stress reducer.
Well, I’m not that good of a coder and I’m also really lazy. So I scrapped that notion pretty quickly. But the idea stuck around with me, and the next thing I knew… I started searching YouTube for covers of the song. And then I bought a domain name. And, well… I ended up creating ifeelstressedout.com.
The goal of the site is pretty straightforward: if you’re feeling stressed out, visit and it’ll play you a cover of the song. I picked a group of covers that I really liked, and I’m hoping that once you hear the song… you’ll feel a little less stressed out.
That’s it! Nothing fancy. If you want another version, there’s a button that will play a different cover (same song though). A kind of personally curated, one trick pony, from me to you.
And if you’re not a fan of the song, I even threw in a little something for the haters. Because being stressed out is no good for anyone.
As a result of this idea, I have become a serious connoisseur of YouTube videos featuring people covering “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.” I’ve gone through… so very many videos.
As I started sifting through each cover, I slowly began to realize that I had pretty strong preferences towards the song.
I also found myself leaning towards acoustic guitar. Anything with electric guitar sounded too harsh, too loud.
Other random things I noticed: fewer black musicians covering this song (it’s mostly whites and asians). I’d say that at least 20% of the videos were made by Beatles cover bands (of which, most of those were primarily whites and asians).
I came across a lot of instrumental versions of the song. A violin/cello duet. A team of saxophones. Lots of keyboard and guitar. At least three different versions done with accordions, and one video featuring a great deal of bamboo. Out of all the instrumental versions, I’d say this one was my favorite.
In terms of weird/odd versions, I found one that consists of just dogs barking. One with every instrument imaginable. Hemi Rudner’s version is just off the wall with its occasional, aggressive shift to minor keys… but it’s surprisingly catchy.
But by far the most baffling was this instrumental version from 1978, featuring James Last and His Orchestra. I couldn’t stop watching, and was in awe at the size of the crowd and how totally into the performance everyone seemed to be.
Around page 18 or so, the “ob la di” keyword search led me to totally unrelated videos. Like the unofficial video for “La da da da dee da da” by Gang Albanii. At that point, I knew I was out in the weeds and stopped searching.
There are a lot of great covers of this song out there. But the ones I picked were the ones I was drawn to, for whatever reasons. Versions that I found endearing and charming, and made me feel happier listening to the performance.
In a way, searching for covers of this song reminded me of my Underviewed project. It’s hard to define what makes a particularly unseen video compelling, but I started gathering a select number of videos that stood out to me.
Through the act of creating this site, I feel like I’ve totally burned out on the song. But when I fire up the site and listen to a few of my favorite versions… I start to remember why I got this silly idea in the first place.
I have a propensity to get worked up (and stressed out) over really stupid, trivial stuff. One morning in December, my wife reminded me through her singing that I should just ease up a little bit. And that’s ultimately what ifeelstressedout.com is all about. If you’re feeling stressed out, maybe this will help a little.