Sad Songs

Updated: Jan 22

Note: this blog article was originally published on 26 September 2016 on the Mezzo, Legato! WordPress blog.


Hopefully you can guess my mood from this…

So I was lying in a music practice room sometime earlier this week bawling my eyes out while listening to some crappy depressing piano ballad thing, thinking myself a pathetic twat for even considering letting those tears fall.

Actually, I had a pretty valid reason for crying.

I’d been wanting to for days.

And it’s a common cliche that people listen to that kind of stuff when they’re sad.

When I was a little bit younger, I used to play what was then Adele’s latest album, 21, whenever I was upset. And of course everyone was telling me I was just wallowing in self-pity, and one person even went so far as to say that Adele’s music makes her want to slit her wrists. (A little grossly over generalized. And I still adore Adele, but thank God she doesn’t really have the same rep so much anymore.)

The problem was, I usually felt better after listening to her.

As crazy as it probably seems, I think sad lyrics (I prefer to think of them as lyrics where you’re pouring your heart out and getting a lot of emotion off your chest) are very important. Whoever said all your songwriting has to be positive and affirming has to kind of wake up and realize that life isn’t and won’t always be all sunshine and rainbows. Of course, there is a time and place for them, and I totally understand if the artist was performing the song at a charity event or a fundraiser for survivors of domestic violence. Then you would have to be as uplifting as possible.

But there are times when I’ve listened to Adele and thought, “Yes, I can relate to that”, or “Adele, you’re totally speaking to me”. That’s the thing – I’ll feel better because I know someone else felt the same way. I’ve been taught for years that sadness is evil and you must never feel it, and that if you ever do, you must either be suffering from depression or are weak.

Ditto. Kind of reminds me of the movie Inside Out.

But I’ve learned a lot by listening to these kinds of songs and through my sadness. Until I heard the song “Dark Side” by Kelly Clarkson, it never occurred to me that no one has the perfect life, with no problems, no issues, no low points, nothing. It is definitely a great song (okay, the phrase “Dark Side” might have some negative connotations, but the lyrics make total sense).

Anyway, the Birdy song is just one of the many things I’ve somewhat immersed myself in over the last few days (I literally discovered this song about a week ago). It was so powerful and moving I could lie on the grass outside my dorm at night and listen to it on repeat. And I also want to cover it. But on another note, I totally understand the fact that some people would want to blast a Janis Joplin song just so that they can scream along with the lyrics, and some people want an upbeat pop song like “Shake It Off” or something because it’ll put them in a good mood. For me, however, the slower ballads will certainly make me feel a whole lot better about life. I don’t know. Maybe it’s the soft melancholy tone that probably, um, calms me. Or it’s the piano. But I do most of my ballad covers on guitar, so I think it’s probably just soulfulness or something.

So basically, what I’m trying to say is, ballads and other seemingly sad songs shouldn’t get such a bad rep. And yeah, listen to whatever the heck you want to when you’re sad. Just don’t judge me because I’m outside my dorm playing Caity Peters’s cover of “Jealous” from The Voice at some crazy hour and will still cry my eyes out even two months after Sawyer Fredericks. It’s either that or I was about to kick someone’s bedroom door in, so yeah, you can’t assume things too soon.

All the best,

Alexia

(P.S. Speaking of The Voice, Season 11 started last week! Yay!! I’m rooting for We McDonald and the guy who sang “Jolene” by Ray LaMontagne.)

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