Sad songs say so much

Last week marked my 6th CMJ experience and I couldn’t help think about how anticlimactic this years festivities seemed to me. I was much more hyped for a Cold Cave show I’d been waiting on for months and a first US experience with 2:54, a band I’ve held close to the eardrums heavily over the past year. What’s the common thread? Both bands have built in punk rock ties but somehow have channeled it into a leg tapping, beat driven heart-bearing fest. Nothing better than a well written and executed sad song. Somehow throughout my life I’ve been drawn like a hot magnet to sad songs, epically those jams with haunting melodies. I can remember being very young and salivating over tunes like “Unchained Melody” due to the swelling vocal delivery, beautiful dissonance and eerie resolve. It’s that luxuriously gratifying combo that seizes the soul and emotion, the wonderful part of it all is that this formula cannot be pinned. It’s unique to every song and individual and when you find that one tune that moves you to emotion and/or merlot driven tears, it’s success. I recently discussed with a coworker the reasons we as people are drawn to sad music and he simply stated, “it’s great.” The mystery of a sad songs’ value to me is really that simply debunked — emotion is inexplicable, sometimes unwarranted and often over the top. Condensing that perplexity into a few perfectly placed lyrics against a solid melody is truly ear porn. I’ve listened to some sad songs on repeat for an entire day and it almost has that crack-like effect on you beckoning you to experience it in large doses. Like a virus it runs its’ course until you can’t bear to hear the song anymore. So it goes, I adore every minute of the infatuation.

I’ve even found this to bleed into my life as a songwriter, no matter what band or project I’m in it’s the same result – sad, sad songs and lyrics. Several times I’ve consciously tried to write a happy, even neutral toned song and it never works out quite right. If i’m in a deep in an infatuation too, forget it…happiness is songwriting kryptonite. There’s something powerfully connecting in misery. In the darkest hours of our lives the most incredible revelations can be found. Maybe this is why some of the greatest songs have showcased the dysfunctional bliss of love and loss. Boisterous tunes have their place but sad songs, just speak to all of us. Emotional movement and identity is just priceless.
Some tunes to move your lil frozen heart…




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