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Why Do We Like Depressing Music?

Jeri 06 Jan 03 - 09:53 PM
khandu 06 Jan 03 - 10:02 PM
Amos 06 Jan 03 - 10:07 PM
Mr Happy 06 Jan 03 - 10:12 PM
Steve Latimer 06 Jan 03 - 10:12 PM
Amos 06 Jan 03 - 10:39 PM
NicoleC 06 Jan 03 - 10:42 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 06 Jan 03 - 10:46 PM
Barry Finn 06 Jan 03 - 11:10 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 06 Jan 03 - 11:10 PM
JennyO 07 Jan 03 - 12:11 AM
sharyn 07 Jan 03 - 12:24 AM
Jeri 07 Jan 03 - 12:35 AM
Coyote Breath 07 Jan 03 - 12:48 AM
michaelr 07 Jan 03 - 02:46 AM
Thomas the Rhymer 07 Jan 03 - 03:51 AM
daithi 07 Jan 03 - 03:58 AM
Mudlark 07 Jan 03 - 04:02 AM
MikeOQuinn 07 Jan 03 - 05:24 AM
harvey andrews 07 Jan 03 - 05:33 AM
GUEST,Sunbeam 07 Jan 03 - 07:35 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 07 Jan 03 - 08:07 AM
radriano 07 Jan 03 - 11:19 AM
Thomas the Rhymer 07 Jan 03 - 12:22 PM
Uncle_DaveO 07 Jan 03 - 02:13 PM
MMario 07 Jan 03 - 02:19 PM
GUEST 07 Jan 03 - 03:18 PM
GUEST,Snokkered Brawn 07 Jan 03 - 03:38 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 07 Jan 03 - 03:42 PM
Coyote Breath 07 Jan 03 - 03:55 PM
Joe Offer 07 Jan 03 - 04:06 PM
mg 07 Jan 03 - 04:28 PM
radriano 07 Jan 03 - 04:28 PM
Art Thieme 07 Jan 03 - 04:34 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 07 Jan 03 - 05:38 PM
Mudlark 07 Jan 03 - 07:15 PM
Neighmond 07 Jan 03 - 07:24 PM
Charley Noble 07 Jan 03 - 09:28 PM
Coyote Breath 08 Jan 03 - 12:18 AM
Joe Offer 08 Jan 03 - 01:09 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 08 Jan 03 - 08:02 AM
Charley Noble 08 Jan 03 - 08:04 AM
Art Thieme 08 Jan 03 - 11:07 AM
Rapparee 08 Jan 03 - 11:16 AM
Jeri 08 Jan 03 - 12:32 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 08 Jan 03 - 01:12 PM
GUEST 08 Jan 03 - 01:31 PM
Jeri 08 Jan 03 - 02:01 PM
breezy 08 Jan 03 - 02:04 PM
denise:^) 08 Jan 03 - 02:10 PM
Bobert 08 Jan 03 - 02:18 PM
Little Hawk 08 Jan 03 - 08:53 PM
michaelr 09 Jan 03 - 12:00 AM
GUEST,Rain Dog 15 Jan 04 - 03:41 AM
*daylia* 15 Jan 04 - 10:48 AM
Amos 15 Jan 04 - 12:30 PM
Ebbie 15 Jan 04 - 01:10 PM
mg 15 Jan 04 - 03:38 PM
Cool Beans 15 Jan 04 - 04:26 PM
Ebbie 15 Jan 04 - 11:12 PM
*daylia* 16 Jan 04 - 08:54 AM
Ebbie 16 Jan 04 - 01:08 PM
GUEST,JennyO 17 Jan 04 - 09:22 AM
Willa 17 Jan 04 - 03:16 PM
PoppaGator 17 Jan 04 - 03:36 PM
GUEST,hotspur 17 Jan 04 - 04:18 PM
freda underhill 18 Jan 04 - 08:42 AM
JennyO 18 Jan 04 - 08:56 AM
freda underhill 18 Jan 04 - 09:01 AM
MickyMan 18 Jan 04 - 11:11 AM
SINSULL 18 Jan 04 - 11:37 AM
CapriUni 18 Jan 04 - 03:37 PM
Larry The Radio Guy 07 Jan 14 - 05:31 PM
kendall 07 Jan 14 - 08:18 PM
GUEST 08 Jan 14 - 03:14 AM
McGrath of Harlow 08 Jan 14 - 08:34 PM
Phil Cooper 09 Jan 14 - 08:19 AM
GUEST,leeneia 09 Jan 14 - 12:28 PM
Eldergirl 09 Jan 14 - 12:44 PM
Larry The Radio Guy 09 Jan 14 - 01:10 PM
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Subject: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Jeri
Date: 06 Jan 03 - 09:53 PM

Thomas the Rhymer asked Barry Finn in this thread why he wanted to sing a song about a junkie who, by all appearances seemed miserable. I have my own opinions - don't I always? We sing murder ballads that others have sung and kept alive for generations, and there doesn't seem to be anything 'nice' in them. We sing songs about incest, death, abandonment, backstabbing and all sorts of other cheery subjects. What is our facination with them?

Is it something like watching a horror movie where we can get scared and then get over it? Does the sadness in a song allow us to feel horrible for just a couple of minutes then leave it behind us? Do we sing about other people's woes and are glad we're not them? Does it sometimes feel like someone's written a song about the bad things in our own lives, past or present, and therefore show they understand us a bit?

What do you think?


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: khandu
Date: 06 Jan 03 - 10:02 PM

I think in re-playing those types of songs, we are working out our own inner difficulties. Perhaps we never murdered anyone, but a good murder song can click the buttons of frustrated anger we have felt and help to release some of the anger. Of course, anger is not the only emotion involved; rejection, grief, nostalgia, multitudes of feelings.

Or, possibly, it may be that we are a bunch of sick puppies.

k


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Amos
Date: 06 Jan 03 - 10:07 PM

None of the above. At least, I don't think so. I think a good murder ballad can be just as poignant as a true love song, even though I much more in favor of love than I am of murder (well, maybe with a couple of exceptions...!). The thing is the music is -- I don't know any word for it except the over-worked touching. You want to know how alive you really are, play close attention to one of those orful murder ballads.

Maybe also it is the same reason real-life murders and wrecks make people stop and gawk or glue hemselves to the telly -- it is extremely faskinatin' a s long as it isn't your own!

A


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 06 Jan 03 - 10:12 PM

the british government is determined to depress music in england & wales.

so all help to defeat this horrendous proposal & sign the petition!


www.musiclovers.ukart.com


cheers,

mr h


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 06 Jan 03 - 10:12 PM

Amos,

Most Murder ballads are love songs gone wrong.


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Amos
Date: 06 Jan 03 - 10:39 PM

Fortunately, the reverse is not true!


A


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: NicoleC
Date: 06 Jan 03 - 10:42 PM

Maybe it's like listening to the blues -- sitting and listening to the blues chases your own blues away.


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 06 Jan 03 - 10:46 PM

Such songs appeal to the human fascination with tragedy. Not tragedy in the everyday sense in which the media uses the word, but in the literary sense. A good tragic song has a lot in common with Oedipus Rex or King Lear. Art, and that includes song, can transcend mundane ugliness and transform it into beauty.

Bruce


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 06 Jan 03 - 11:10 PM

For me, like khandu suggests above, I'm a sick puppy.

I do think that when a good song is sung with the emotion, passion & feeling that it deserves you can possibly get to open a heart or an eye or an ear so that others (including the singer) can, for a fleeting moment use the song as a window to really see, feel & understand something about others in a way that maybe they never would've known otherwise. If another's life can be seen from their eyes then maybe good will could go a bit further. Or maybe it's just another way of singing the blues. Barry


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 06 Jan 03 - 11:10 PM

Gosh Jeri, I don't know whether to thank you or to give cause for someone to write a little murder ballad all our very own... ;^) ...OK, sure, the rank and file Child Ballad is full of pithy melodrama that is at least as depressing as a strung out junkie... you've got me over a barrel (or is it a casket?) and I've got to agree with you on this one... I'm just not able to add to, or to appreciate the glamorization of heroin. I've never tried the stuff, but I've watched aquaintances die... Yeh, maybe the song will help keep people away from it, and if it's scary enough it probably will... You all have heard of AIDS, right? T'wasn't in the song. I'm not trying to cast a wet blanket here... I feel kinda strongly about this and it makes me sound like a strianer... sorry... ;@{

My personal process is in a very different place right now. I see the world filled with addictive misfortunes, and I feel that we make them more real by focusing our cultural pursiuts interminably upon them, perhaps to the exclusion of positive and long term ambitions... Yes, I sing some scary songs, but they are part of a ballance that makes a full bodied performance. It is partly in reaction that I am doing this... There does seem to be a surfeit of grief and misery these days... Maybe if we were all giddy and satiated with "Treasure Island" style hubris I'd feel differently. My tuppence, if you please...ttr


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: JennyO
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 12:11 AM

The whole point is that the music, although it may be sad or about subjects that are not very nice, is not actually DEPRESSING at all. It may evoke feelings of sympathy, or connection with other people's problems, or gratefulness that our present circumstances are better, but we relate to them because they are about the human condition, and it helps us work through our own feelings. Jeri and khandu are both on the right track. People who started singing the blues were actually making themselves feel better by singing about their problems, same as you would if you shared a problem by talking to a good friend.

Jenny


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: sharyn
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 12:24 AM

I agree with Jenny, murder ballads, etc. are not "depressing." They are often very moving. They are about people who make wrong choices (as we all do, although I imagine most of us here at Mudcat are not murderers). When we sing them, we can see their errors, but also the tragedy that results. Ballads let us work with dark and sad material without overwhelming our psyches or causing us to buy guns or razors. They are a good addition in a culture that requires far too much false cheer and denial. They also have long spoken about things that we do not like to speak about -- incest, for example.


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Jeri
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 12:35 AM

Thomas, I didn't know I'd end up being considered as the tragic heroine in a murder ballad when I started this! Seriously, I can't see how the song Barry asked for (Warren Zevon's 'Carmelita' for those who don't want to go look) glamorizes heroin - quite the opposite. Quite stark. One wants to like it because it has a great tune and is eminently singable, but it's dark, dark, dark. That line about "Well, I'm sittin' here playing solitaire with my pearl-handled deck"...oy.

Barry, have you ever heard Richard Thompson's "God Loves a Drunk?" The lyrics don't appear to be in the DT or anywhere in the forum. In my opinion, it's the most powerful addiction-hell song I've ever heard.


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Coyote Breath
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 12:48 AM

Sometimes the more gloomy songs are cautionary tales, sometimes they are of something so horrific that only through the fear-quelling art of music can we look at the events.

Sometimes the poetry of the song is such that it needs to be remembered because of the art IT displays.

I also feel, with some songs, that the murder ballad or suicide's lament keeps some part of the poor unfortunate's life alive, a kind of memorial if you will.

With songs about injustice I think that it is important to keep the memory alive.

The blues help us feel better about our lives partly because we recognize ourselves and partly because we can take comfort that we are not alone in our misery.

I once heard murmers of "amen" in an audience listening to a bluesman telling of the troubles he had recently had with local law enforcement. Others had been there too.

CB


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: michaelr
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 02:46 AM

This is quoted from Sinead O'Connor's liner notes to her latest album, "Sean Nos Nua": (italics are my own)

"Many of the songs on this record are stories of enduring and unconditional love, love that can't be quenched by fires or floods. They are the beautifully borne pain of real people, who really existed. They teach that pain can be made into something positive and beautiful when one sings it, and so pain can be healed by singing...

I consider all of these songs magical prayers and therefore not sad songs at all. They are only sad to those who cannot feel the true ghosts of the people who are speaking through the songs."

That's about as good an answer as I've heard.

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 03:51 AM

True enough... Pain is our friend.


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: daithi
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 03:58 AM

"...for the great Gaels of Ireland are the men the Gods made mad,
For all their Wars are merry - and all their Songs are Sad"


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Mudlark
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 04:02 AM

A good quote from O'Conner and to the point. I have always been drawn to songs that are passionate, that draw and generate real emotion. Of course, all is relative, but for my money songs of loss, however it occurs, whether of love, or life or innocence, are the most moving.And the minor keys, or minors thrown in, nearly always make for beautiful melodies, in my opinion.

In the same way that having a good cry often makes me feel better, I find these moving songs rewarding and liberating. They are a beautiful cleansing mechanism humans have been using for millennia.


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: MikeOQuinn
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 05:24 AM

*puts in $0.02 before reading the rest of the thread*

One word... catharsis

*goes back to read thread*

-J


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: harvey andrews
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 05:33 AM

I think the songs we sing are about fundamentals. The poet Danny Abse once prefaced a book with "I hope these poems seriously entertain" and I think that's what the songs do, they seriously entertain us,our pleasure coming from their very seriousness. The two words are not mutually exclusive. That's what makes our part of the musical world so enjoyable. It's not candyfloss.For depressing read real.


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: GUEST,Sunbeam
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 07:35 AM

Who's "we", Jeri? I don't like it at all. Am I the only one?

Maybe others like it for the same reason dogs are attracted to feces and vomit. Just part of some people's metabolism, I guess.

Cheers

Sunbeam


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 08:07 AM

I like a good song. If it has a memorable melody, good words that paint a vivid picture and transports me into a setting I've never experienced, I'll probably enjoy the song. I'm even more likely to enjoy it if I hear a singer I really enjoy do a good arrangement of the song. I amy not like a variant of the song because the words and melody aren't as good (in my opinion.) I love Jam on Gerry's Rock, not because the bugger gets drownded and I secretly would love to drown the checkout clerk at Walmart. It's just a good song, and I've never tired of singing it. I also love Butcher's Boy, which is about a young heart-sick woman who is so depressed that she hangs herself.
The song is moving to me, because I can identify with feeling rejected, not because I ever wanted to hang myself (or wished someone I knew would do it.)

A good song is a good song, whether it's the Butcher's Boy or Ground Hog (which come to think of it is a murder ballad, too....)

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: radriano
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 11:19 AM

The reason I like traditional song and some "folk" music is specifically because it's not just "feel good" music. Wouldn't film be boring if there was no dramas but only romantic comedy and "family" films? What about theatre? Man, Shakespeake is really depressing, isn't it. All that murder and war and incest.


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 12:22 PM

Comparing Shakespeare to Tom Waits, or Warren Zevon's writing to Child Ballads, is a lot like propaganda... Where is the overwhelming sense of human sanctity in these modern and merryless men... The ironical expose' of people down on their luck often are but suburban brats thumbing thier noses, from the pedistal of privilage's deluded virtue, at the depravity of those "less fortunate"... To take what little time we have for exaltive cultural pursuit, a tiny span of time really, and turn from beauty to squalor... From love to cynics critique... from truely sympathetic sadness to caustic ridicule... Talk about tragedy! Yuk! :^{ ttr


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 02:13 PM

Radriano said:

Man, Shakespeake is really depressing, isn't it. All that
murder and war and incest.


No. It's not depressing to most people, or at least not to people who like it. It's dramatic. It's often enlightening. It can be exciting.

To someone who is rather depressive, predisposed to that reaction, many of Shakespeare's plays may seem depressive, but that's not Shakespeare; it's that reader or playgoer. Depression, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: MMario
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 02:19 PM

I don't think I could handle a lot of songs that actually depressed me - on the other hand I tend to like songs about depressing subjects. The songs themselves are not depressing.

Don Miexner's 'A Mother's Kiss' is tells a tale that is dark, chilling and horrendous. But the song is incredible!


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 03:18 PM

Tom Waits doesn't look too privileged to me; he looks more like a Bowery bum, and spiritually he probably has more in common with them and others of his ilk like Charles Bukowski, than with his Hollywood counterparts. Ditto Warren Zevon. He's probably written a lot of his songs from personal experience, 'Carmelita' included, I'd venture. Has to be one of the saddest songs ever composed.

Many people are so emotionally bankrupt from modern living they welcome the chance through music to feel anything: sadness; anger; joy; suffering .... You suppose that's why it's called "the universal language?"

Sunbeam ...what a comparison.


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: GUEST,Snokkered Brawn
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 03:38 PM

That's a steaming heap! Waits and Zevon are spoil't pretenders, playing crucial parts in the status quo maintenance program! If we forget what true beauty feels like, this place we're in starts to feel like home, and vampires start to look like altruists...

SB


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 03:42 PM

Looks like this thread is deteriorating at warp speed... so long, folks..

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Coyote Breath
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 03:55 PM

Ground Hog is a "murder ballad"? Jerry, I respect your knowledge and wisdom but???

Unless ANY hunting song is a murder ballad. That is, of course, a possibility.

Please enlighten.

CB


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 04:06 PM

I see that somebody refreshed Sonny's Dream, a deliciously depressing song. Another one I like is Liverpool Lullaby, although I have to admit I didn't listen to the lyrics for the first thirty years I heard it.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: mg
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 04:28 PM

I have another question..how come the Scandinavians, who at least in the past haven't been famous for their cheeriness at times, have such rollicking happy sounding music? I have always wondered this.

mg


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: radriano
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 04:28 PM

Fer pete's sake, no, I don't think Shakespeare is depressing. I was trying to make the point that what some would call "depressing" songs I catagorize as dramatic songs. It's sarcasm, you know?


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 04:34 PM

As I have said before in other threads because I truly believe it:

TRAGEDY (not depression) is the real stuff of life. All the greatest literature, films, poetry, folksongs, any of the arts, points tis up. That, to me, is NOT a sad statement. It is a realization, a taking note of actuality----just the way of the world. If you allow that to depress you, you need some serious work done on your ability to find sustenance and energy, enlightenment and, yes, happiness from knowing that insecurity and lack of control in our lives is just how stuff is. It is wisdom to know this. Indeed, it is O.K. and just doesen't matter. Lean toward the best you can be, and avoid the black holes and dark matter that can suck you in the same way a gazelle might be brought down by a lion. This'll lead to that old psychiatric hackneyed-but-true state called going with the flow.

To answer your question:

We like enlightening music--not saddening music. A folksong is one that is insightful and teaches us the truth of this world---at least to the extent that truths can be known. To the extent that knowing this can make one depressed, it says more about one's personal psychic state than it does about the "up" or the "downness" of individual songs.

Also, as I've said, lighter and comic songs and art is just COMIC RELIEF from the bedrock of life---tragedy.

At least that's how it seems to me.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 05:38 PM

Ground Hog is a murder ballad if you're a ground hog... just funnin' Coyote. Should put a :-) after it.

I think all the stuff about Tom Waits and Warren Zevon being priviledged rich boys posted by a couple of Guests just seemed like an attempt to sidetrack everyone. I don't care if Little Lord Fauntleroy wrote a good song. The song's the thing...

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Mudlark
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 07:15 PM

I agree that tragedy is the bedrock of life...loss, and the ultimate loss, death...that's reality. How miraculous it is that this reality can be expressed not only in words, but in heart-rendingly beautiful melodies, sung with passion and commitment, by people who care about such things, so as to instruct, heal and entertain.


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Neighmond
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 07:24 PM

I like it for a lot of reasons...
Shows me as bad as I have it there are things that could be one hell of a lot worse.

FWIW

Chaz


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 09:28 PM

Joe, "Sonny's Dream"! Good lord, that's the worst type of sentimental claptrap that I ever was exosed to. Give me "Lady Margaret" any day, for traditional dark, or maybe "Children of Darkness" for something that's only 30 or so years old. Then there's Al Stewart singing his "Hipposong" - "other people's problems just get tedious..."

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Coyote Breath
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 12:18 AM

Naw, I knew ya meant something like that, Jerry.

I LOVE ground hogs almost as much as I love coyotes. They're so cute and fat, almost cuddly and they act like nothing in the world can harm them.

Unless it's Old Joe Digger, Sam and Dave!

Whistle pigs!

Got one lives under an antique shop up in Hermann, Missouri. Comes out to watch the traffic, Don't know if he looks for his shadow or not.

Jerry, you have inspired me! I am going to workl on "Ground Hog" a bit and see if I can't make it sound more like a murder ballad than a menu!:)

CB


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 01:09 AM

"Sonny's Dream" sentimental, Charlie? I always thought of it as an Oedipus story, as a young man trapped by his mother.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 08:02 AM

Coyote: We had ground hogs at the museum and nature center where I worked. You know how inquisitive they are, and they were in a pit, so they really couldn't see that far. There was a small tree in the center of the pit, and I used to really laugh, because they'd climb up in the tree and stretch out on the branches with all four legs dangling, and just enjoy watching the people. I've never seen one in a tree, in the wild. You do what you have to.

On Groundhog Day, they'd ask me to sing and play Groundhog on banjo, and talk about ground hogs. I also have a photo of a home-made banjo with a grounmd hog skin head. It must have been a small ground hog because they had to use the skin up to the top of the head, and the ears were still on the skin. Gave new meaning to the term "playing by ear."

But then, this is thread drift. If life is really tragic, then I guess this must be comic relief. Funny, it seemed real to me.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 08:04 AM

Joe-

I hadn't thought of "Sonny's Dream" as relating to a sexual attraction of the son to his mother. Trapped, yes. Dreams unrealized, yes. And depressing in that no alternative options other than staying ashore with mom are offered. If Sonny only had access to the Mudcat Forum!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 11:07 AM

Until you've seen Jerry hypnotize a groundhog, well, you've just not seen anything !

Art


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Rapparee
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 11:16 AM

Why do we read novels about war, incest, murder, rape, ennui, and so on and so on? Why read nonfiction about the same subjects? To try to understand, in that "nothing human is alien to me?"

"Terence, this is stupid stuff
You eat your victuals fast enough,
There can't be much amiss, 'tis clear,
To see the rate you drink your beer...."


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Jeri
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 12:32 PM

Art, I wanted to argue with you. Tragedy is NOT what it's all about! Then I thought, "what IS it all about?" I thought "love." But there would be no stories without the tragedy. Imagine one of the worlds greatest literary works, Sleeping Beauty: "Her stepmother loved here and one day she met a handsome prince and they lived happily ever after. The End." Kinda boring.

Depressing-ville is fine as long as you just go for a visit. I think folks who've spent or are spending too much time there probably don't want the encouragement.

It might have been better if I'd asked "Why do some of us like depressing music and why do some dislike it?" but there wasn't enough room.

Note to possible lurkers: I wrote "music" instead of "songs" on purpose. (Theme to Lassie used to make me cry. Yes, I know it was 'Greensleeves' and yes, I'm a sap.)


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 01:12 PM

Hey Jeri et all... I've bee off track for most of this thread, sorry... There was a time when I sang mostly "Depressing and Provocative" songs. Hundreds. Death, addiction, depression, needless war, permenantly broken hearts, lost love, cheatin', deceivin', and political corruption and provocation... I will still draw a few out frequently, and sing them with strong passion, but collecting dust is their predominant avocation now, and I'll tell ya why.

I want to be surrounded by millions and millions of happy people... in this live, on this earth. Don't get me wrong, catharsis is the key to emotional freedom, Yes???? And I do my best to bring it on safely and with care... But after we're're done, beauty is the obvious choice. Ya think? ttr


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 01:31 PM

To set the record straight ... The thread was sidetracked by members - Guests just responded.


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Jeri
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 02:01 PM

Thomas, I know you didn't mean it this way, but I'm picturing the Stepford Coffeehouse right now - shiny happy people in little pink houses. I do think you can get into a frame of mind where you can't handle any more pain, but I don't want to tell true friends they can't be unhappy around me. Beauty's good. Love's better.


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: breezy
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 02:04 PM

Well said Harvey its reality that intrigues and in so doing 'entertains' or rather stimulates, like this thread.
Our songs are far more demanding intellectually that is why its a minority interest.
Discuss.


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: denise:^)
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 02:10 PM

Someitmes, as was mentioned, a sad song tells an interesting story ("Jam on Gerry's Rock," or "Tecumseh Valley" are good examples). I, for one, never saw the point of singing "The Banks of the Ohio;" it was just killing for killing's sake, and bothered me.

But the ones that really make me nutsy are the sad songs that are written with only one objective in mind: Let's make these people CRY!! You know the kind I mean--this year, at Christmas, there was the one about the shoes for the dying mother; there's "Willie Roy, the Crippled Boy" (it's bluegrass); that old 'trucker' song, "Teddy Bear;" stuff like that. Intentionally maudlin, designed to make you cry, whether you want to or not--and they drive me nuts! I never listen if I can avoid it at all.

There aren't so many of these in *folk* music; more, I think, in bluegrass or country--and pop songs went through a phase of them in the late 50's/early 60's (before my time, but I've heard them, anyway!)

I don't know why people would like these kinds of songs--the folks in them are so miserable that their life looks good, perhaps? Or maybe they just needed a good cry, anyway...But someone must like 'em, 'cause they keep making 'em!
denise:^)


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Bobert
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 02:18 PM

I gotta agree with khandu. There does seem to be a theaputic value to singing depressing songs. I even like to hear a good one now and then. Okay, maybe it is a little like banging your head on the wall because it feels so good when you quit, I don't know.

These days, I play mostly blues music but some folks who have heard my earlier stuff might put it in a blues category if for no other reason than content.

The blues seem to be a clebration of survival! I mean, like laughing to keep from crying. Like all these terrible things happening and rather than sitting around being depressed, ya' just grab a guitar and let it rip. Feels good to get it out and not let it take you out.

And in the words of Duchamp, "Art is shit". Excuse my French 'cause you know that this ol' hillbilly don't talk like that but it says a lot. It's like stuff that just needs to come out. It's a way of dealing with grief... and misery... and injustice. And lots of folks songs do just that.

Think I'll blow my old lonesome home
Woke up this mornin'
Little P-Vine was gone...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 08:53 PM

Whaddya mean "we"? I like some sad or moving music, but not depressing music. It's the commercial radio stuff that's on everywhere that depresses me, because of the social blindness, vulgarity, and ignorance it expresses. That's why I never listen to it if I have any choice about the matter.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: michaelr
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 12:00 AM

Breezy -- "Our songs are far more demanding intellectually that is why its a minority interest.
Discuss."


I think that discussion warrants its own thread, don't you? Start it up, it's an interesting question.

I really think what we're talking about is SAD songs -- depression has different connotations, mostly unconnected to music, I'd say.

Someone above said "catharsis", and I think that's the key. It's a perfect stress relief to have a good cry from time to time, and a good sad song is like a welcome friend whose shoulder you can cry on.

In my band's repertoire, there are more sad than happy songs. This is because our repertoire is composed mostly of Irish and Scots trad songs. We mix it up in concert, contrasting a weeper with a lively fiddle tune, and saying things like "Wev were looking for love songs with happy endings... this is the one."

There is one couple that comes to our gigs specifically to hear Patricia Casey sing "Anachie Gordon". We never do that song unless they're there. They come, request the song, we play it... they cry, and go home happy.

I'm fine with that.

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: GUEST,Rain Dog
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 03:41 AM

Re: Why do we like depressing music

This thread touches on a subject that I have thought about before.What exactly is going on when we listen ( I do not play or sing so it has to be listen ) to a sad or chilling song ? I do think that a songwriter can write about any subject he wants to but I sometimes think that the medium can affect the subject matter in ways that the writer might not have intended.

I do not have a knowledge of a lot of folk songs, but as an example of what I am trying to say I would give the song Georgia Lee by Tom Waits, which has been covered also by Solas & Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman. This is a song that is about the murder of a child. I find it a very sad song ( and I know one persons sad song is another persons mawkish/sentimental claptrap )yet the melody/tune has a beauty to it. The song is beautiful, what it is describing is not.

The Suzanne Vega song , My Name is Luka , is another song, where the lyrics are about child abuse, yet this melody/tune has a 'jaunty or happy ' sound to it. I am sure a number of people must have 'heard' this song, tapped their foot to it, whistled it etc without listening to the lyrics and realising what it is about. Is this defeating Vega's intention for the song ?

I will end with what I think is one of the most chilling songs that I know. The Randy Newman song, In Germany Before the War. Again it has what I think is a very beautiful melody/tune and yet it is a song about a child killer told from the point of view of the child killer. The music attracts but the lyrics repell. Somewhat confusing I think. ( Probably a bit like this message )


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: *daylia*
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 10:48 AM

IN my experience, people who are basically happy and reasonably content with the circumstances of their lives demonstrate no great need to play or listen to depressing music. They can listen to it, and perhaps learn something from it, but they are not particularly drawn to it.   On the other hand, I've noticed it's the discontented ones who enjoy "depressing" music. Maybe it affirms them in their "woe is me" state -- and misery loves company, perhaps?

daylia


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Amos
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 12:30 PM

Back to an earlier drift, the bedrock of human experience is not tragedy; tragedy is born from life force attacking the hurdles of existence in the material universe and sometimes losing. But the bedrock is life force. Tragedy is reversable, but life force is not. Call me Bergsonian, but that's how it seems to me.

A


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Ebbie
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 01:10 PM

I tend to think that we humans react viscerally to any song (or event) that draws us out of ourselves for that moment, as Harvey implied, to the essence of what we perceive as fundamental and real, those transcendental moments when an emotion is stripped to its essentials. I agree with Art T that tragedy is the human condition, in the sense that there are no happy endings- each life ends in death and defeat.

I think that this affirmation is received by everybody over and over. Like at a car wreck, or at a just barely escaped accident or incident or the experience of war or riot. But also on the other hand, the first kiss, falling in love, crooning to a baby- all those moments of distillation to the essence. Who was it (Mark Twain, Ben Franklin?) who said something about, 'The threat of imminent death *compresses (not the right word, what is it?) the mind wonderfully.' I think that's what he's saying.

I once said to my very religious mother, Leaving religion out of it, can you see my problem- I tell myself that if all those people throughout history could stand to die, so can I. And then I realize, they couldn't stand it- it killed them! And my mother said, Yes, I see your dilemma.

Personally, like ttr, I prefer to keep myself happy- not grinning all the time or staying away from sad things- but happy within my core. I tell myself that every day that I keep myself happy I'm adding to the happiness of the world. Conversely, every day that I am miserable, I'm adding to its misery.

That said, I am one of those people (I can't be the only one!) who can stand only so much blues. Too many songs of it- and I get to feeling like the whole world is sad and living is useless.

IMO- and I could be wrong!


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: mg
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 03:38 PM

I call some deaths tragic...too soon, too painful, leaving young children behind. But I fail to see how a death at an old age, in comfortable surroundings, perhaps with family, is a defeat or is tragic. It is the end of one life, but other lifes continue. Of course, there is purgatory to consider and that changes the equation totally... mg


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Cool Beans
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 04:26 PM

I'll tell you this: it's not about the words, it's something more primal.
When my daughter Maggie was 3 or 4 she woke up one night, came to us in tears and said she wanted to hear "the sad song." At the time we knew which one she meant (alas, we've all forgotten which song it was). We put the record on, we listened to the song, Maggie cried her little eyes out. When it was over we dried her eyes and she went to bed feeling much better. She slept very soundly that night.


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Ebbie
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 11:12 PM

I agree that it's not the words. I grew up with country and folk music, and yet I love opera. Not operas, per se, but the sounds of arias, especially if I don't know the language. To me, an operatic duet is a spine-tingling, gut-wrenching bathed-in-sound experience.


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: *daylia*
Date: 16 Jan 04 - 08:54 AM

I agree with Art T that tragedy is the human condition, in the sense that there are no happy endings- each life ends in death and defeat.

Ooooo -- so why go to all this trouble to keep myself alive then???

Then again, maybe you're right ... so first let's collaborate on yet another gut-wrenching hand-wringing ballad to commemorate forever our torturous existences, and then ... Quick! Let's all line up and do THIS!

Hey, at least we'll keep these people happy!

Him, too.

;-)    daylia


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Ebbie
Date: 16 Jan 04 - 01:08 PM

My saying that all life ends in death and defeat sounds grimmer than it should, perhaps. It leaves out any mention of the fact that I personally believe- and prefer to! that our physical bodies house our essence, that the essence continues after the separation.

And music speaks directly to that essence- and resonates and reverberates in the physical. OK?


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: GUEST,JennyO
Date: 17 Jan 04 - 09:22 AM

Looks like I'm a guest here for a few days. My computer had a major problem (possibly a weird new virus, a workmate of my son thinks) which resulted in my having to get a new motherboard. So I'm on John's computer, which seems very old and slow by comparison. But it's only for a few days anyway. And the seat height and setup is all wrong (grumble grumble) - maybe a depressing song about that?

Anyway, I remembered a time a couple of years ago when my then singing partner and I were singing "Past Caring" which is extremely depressing and wrist-slashing, at a friend's BBQ. There were people sitting around a fire. Two people we know, who are famous for dropping off to sleep wherever they go, chose this moment to do this, and as one of them started to tip in her chair, her husband, who was also dropping off, started to tip sideways too. They slid like dominoes, in slow motion, right in front of us. It was so funny we cracked up - right in the middle of the song - and totally destroyed the moment. Probably just as well - you need a little light relief after that song.

Jenny


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Willa
Date: 17 Jan 04 - 03:16 PM

Hi, Ebbie Your post Jan 15th; the word is 'concentrates'.

I quote:Samuel Johnson, who had an opinion for every occasion, once said, "Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates the mind wonderfully."


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 17 Jan 04 - 03:36 PM

What depressing music? If we like a given piece, it doesn't make us depressed, it makes us feel *good.* A song whose lyrics describe a unhappy situation can be a joy to sing or play or hear -- especially for those who understand the story only too well.

(Of course, different folks have different tastes, and you might find my favorite blues song, etc., to be depressing to you.)

As someone mentioned long ago and far above in this thread, the key word to understand is "catharsis." Giving voice to one's sorrows (or to someone else's sorrows, assuming one is not the songwriter but simply the interpreter) can feel really good, for the singer and also for those "actively listening."


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: GUEST,hotspur
Date: 17 Jan 04 - 04:18 PM

I think maybe it has something to do with the multiple intelligences. Some people--i consider myself fortunate to be one of them--have a musical intelligence. It's like living your life to a soundtrack--in the movies, they always play somehting depressing when the main character is depressed, right? Well, I think that's why people sing sad songs. It fits the moment. Also, of course, it's better to sing about throwing yourself off a cliff then to actually do it.


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: freda underhill
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 08:42 AM

jennyo - were you singing Past Chairin'?

freda


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: JennyO
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 08:56 AM

LOL Freda! Actually, they narrowly missed falling into the fire, so I suppose you could call it "Past Charring".

Jenny


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: freda underhill
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 09:01 AM

the burning times are here once more..


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: MickyMan
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 11:11 AM

I think Art Thieme hit the nail of this depressing thread directly on its' depressing head back on Jan 7th, 2003. He used the word ENLIGHTEN. Perhaps we look for songs about depressing situations in order to enlighten ourselves so that we and our loved ones will not come to harm as the song points out.
There also is something therepeutic about hearing a song where somebody else feels crummy. It makes me feel less alone in the world.
My wife seems to have a much lower threshold of pain when it comes to depressing music, or movies for that matter (She thrives on those romantic comedies). Of course that could be because she lives with me day in and day out and so she is in constant need of a positive support system.


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: SINSULL
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 11:37 AM

I wallow in sad songs including "Put My Little Shoes Away" but hate movies that are similarly designed to make me cry. Maybe it is because they are rarely well done.

But on the movie theme (or TV for that matter), even the romantic comedies are built around a theme of loss or potential loss. You know the hero will get the girl in the end but he has to work for it. As has already been said, it would be pretty dull if every day were sunshine and happiness - at least at the movies.

Art made an interesting point: "If you allow that to depress you, you need some serious work done on your ability to find sustenance and energy, enlightenment and, yes, happiness from knowing that insecurity and lack of control in our lives is just how stuff is."
And it reminded me of the times I was severely depressed. No one would go to the movies with me because I would burst into sobbing tears with no warning. E.T., Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Empire Of The Sun - are a few of the films I ruined for companions and everyone within six rows because I was reduced to near hysteria by the sorrow.

But at the same time, I daily sang my usual list of sad songs and derived a strange comfort from them.

After the "serious work was done" I no longer cried in the theater - not even Schindler's List got me. But I still sing the sad songs...for comfort.


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: CapriUni
Date: 18 Jan 04 - 03:37 PM

Does anyone here remember the BioDome -- that experiment, out in the American desert somewhere that attempted to recreate the whole of Earth's life web in miniature, within a closed closed system? It started with such high ambitions, and failed on many levels.

Around the time that it was still in the news, I remember watching a documentary on it, and this one fact has stuck in my memory: All the trees there became weak and sickly, and died premature deaths because they had no winds to buffet them as they were growing.

That "Life Force" that Amos spoke of, it seems, not only survives in spite of trouble, it only thrives in the midst of trouble. To repeat the old cliché: "Without sorrow, there can be no joy."

When we are content, we feel complete unto ourselves. It is good to feel whole, and strong. But if that is all we feel, it can also become very empty, as ironic as that sounds. When we open ourselves to the experience of pain and sorrow, especially in sympathy with the pain and sorrow of others, we open ourselves to Life itself.

The crack in a broken heart is an opening through which life and love can pour in.


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 07 Jan 14 - 05:31 PM

I don't like depressing music just because it's depressing.   But I love it if there is something about it that seems to 'understand' some aspect of my own dark side......whether it's my violent urges (which I'm glad to say are relatively weak), my moments of despair (brief, fortunately), or a number of not so positive emotions and thoughts.   I also love songs that 'enlighten' me or give me a sense of a 'way out'. I find that in most of my favourite 'depressing' songs, there is at least a glimmer of hope.   

But I think my main attraction is that sense that there is an interconnection between me and either the song writer, or the 'protagonist/narrator' of the song.   Helps me feel more human.


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: kendall
Date: 07 Jan 14 - 08:18 PM

My ex hated sad songs; called it emotional rape.

I think the creator gave us many emotions, why not enjoy all of them?


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Jan 14 - 03:14 AM

Politicians running the shop.


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 Jan 14 - 08:34 PM

There's a hymn with the line

The stars shine only in darkness

I like that image.

The only songs I get depressed by are some hyper-cheerful ones. Even a happy song needs a touch of shadow.


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 09 Jan 14 - 08:19 AM

I, too, like songs that have teeth in them. Tom Rapp, from Pearls before Swine, said that dark songs give the ultimately hopeful message that someone else has been through hard times and come out the other side.


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 09 Jan 14 - 12:28 PM

You can't assume 'we like depressing music.' I, for one, don't like it.


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Eldergirl
Date: 09 Jan 14 - 12:44 PM

Fair to say that different folks will find different songs depressing? We are not all identical, after all.
Many yrs ago in college I was practising Gene Clark's song 'Spanish Guitar'. One of my flatmates came in and begged me to stop, why was I playing such a dismal song, she'd never have thought I was a young woman in love, etc etc.(at the time, I was.) For me, it's one of the most positive songs I know, being basically about creativity, but my friend only heard minor chords not v well played..
Well maybe that's the answer, and why I packed in playing guitar!
Still, it's different strokes for different folks, innit?
X el


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Subject: RE: Why Do We Like Depressing Music?
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 09 Jan 14 - 01:10 PM

I agree with Tom Rapp. His songs are dark, sad, and contemplative.......but to my mind, never hopeless or 'depressing'.


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