So, still continuing my musings on sadness. I just came from a party this past weekend, where I had the most fun I remember having had in a while. I acted like an idiot for a while out of my week, and it was great. It’s nice to think sometimes that nothing matters, and you can act any way you want, no matter what it looks like. I may act serious, but there are moments when the prospect of just letting go of inhibitions, having fun, and not caring about appearances or formality, is something I fantasize about.
But not caring how you act or what you look like can go both ways. Sometimes you want to be just really out-of-your-mind happy, but other times, you just want to vent all your frustrations, your sadness, and your worries. You may not be able to find the solutions within your sphere of influence (hence your frustrations), and sometimes the only way to let go of them is to just express them all away, however you can manage it.
Sadness: One mood, multiple coping mechanisms
And that’s the thing about sadness. The cure for it isn’t always to find something else to think about, talk about, write about, or sing about (though that’s a good approach to take a lot of the time; I’m writing this blog post to occupy my thoughts and distract myself from other things for a while). Sometimes, the cure is to create a picture of the problem, make it as clear and definite as possible, so that you can wrap your head around it and see its actual scope. Then you can start to deal.
Now, not all of us have that gift or ability to define our own problems. When you’re in the thick of something, you’re living a moment, it’s not easy to create that picture. Not everything can be captured in selfies or other pictures. So, you have to find a way to express your sadness without expressing it yourself.
That’s where sad songs come in.
It’s Catchy because It’s True
“Forget You”. “Some Nights”. “King of Anything”. “Hey Ya”. What do these have in common? They’re all sad songs. Oh sure, they sound upbeat, but if you look at the lyrics, you’ll see that they’re not purely happy. Don’t believe me? Just Google it for a bit. I can wait. If you can spare a few more minutes (and aren’t squeamish about mature situations or slightly blue language), you can read this article on upbeat but depressing songs while you’re away.
The thing about songs is that they can be very twisted. They describe sad or frustrating situations, and they’re camouflaged in toe-tapping and sometimes downright infectiously dance-inducing beats. Songs can have incredibly multiple layers of meaning, which is just another way of saying that songwriters can mess with people through their songs.
But even if people recognize these songs to be depressing as anything, they still like them. Why? Because they describe pain and frustration, and they describe them in a way that the average human being cannot ever manage by himself or herself… not within five minutes, anyway, which is the time most of us truly have for moping around. No sense in waiting for a thunderstorm or spending hours walking head-down around town. Oh sure, the weekends and Friday nights are there for clubbing, drinking, parties, and such, but until then, how do you cope? By blaring loud music into your listening holes. Heck, even the downright depressing songs can be cathartic. No matter what genre or artist people prefer, everyone gets sad, and music can be surprisingly effective in chasing those blues away.
Some people may be saying “I don’t need those sad songs in my playlist. I have a perfectly happy life, I’m a happy person, and I have happy relationships that will never be sad, so there’s no need to bring those downers and bad vibes in”. Well, I can’t really contest those people; I can never know about their life for sure. But I think that situation of perfect happiness is highly unlikely. If there are people who claim to live such lives, I suspect they deserve congratulations for living in the most insulated, hermetically sealed emotional bubble ever. Or for being delusional or in some sort of denial.