I love listening to music. I like it so much that it is difficult for me to listen to books or podcasts because there is no time for them. When I am in my car driving to one of my gazillion errands or wearing headphones while doing work around the house, music is what keeps me going. It transports me. And I need to be transported out of my busy, monkey mind most days.
For most of my life, I have liked music other people consider dark. Maybe even too dark. I like depressing lyrics, songs about heartbreak, music that makes me feel part of a bigger whole. When a friend told me that she loved “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves, I mentally rolled my eyes. I just can’t get behind that. I never really thought much about my proclivity towards dark, brooding bands with melancholy and depressive lyrics until other people pointed it out as something odd. It didn’t feel odd to me. It simply was what I liked. Recently, though, I realized sad songs are what I relate to. They make sense to me. I can inhabit them because they seem to reflect my experiences. Happy songs? Well, I just haven’t lived from that walking-on-sunshine place yet. But play me a song about a broken relationship, a girlfriend in a coma, or some serious self-loathing, and I can meet you there.
Here are some miserable (but great) song lyrics that have resonated with me, so you can see what I mean:
“I never thought about love when I thought about home.” ~The National, “Bloodbuzz Ohio“
“I know I’m unloveable, you don’t have to tell me…I wear black on the outside ’cause black is how I feel on the inside.” ~The Smiths, “Unloveable“
“And at once I knew, I was not magnificent.” Bon Iver, “Holocene“
“Going out of my mind, never getting what I wanted, getting what I needed, I left myself behind.” CHVRCHES, “Get Out”
“Take a good look at my face, you’ll see my smile looks out of place, if you look closer it’s easy to trace the tracks of my tears.” Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, “The Tracks of My Tears”
“Start asking for forgiveness in advance, for all the future thing I will destroy. That way I can ruin everything.” Julien Baker, “Hardline”
“The best of us can find happiness in misery.” Fall Out Boy, “I Don’t Care”
Depressing, right? There are a lot of songs about misery and pain. They are easy to find. When I first started getting into music in middle school, I gravitated towards gloomy songs because it was easier to sing along with something that resonated with me than something that felt shallow to me. I know dark doesn’t directly translate to deep or anything, but with dark you are in the ballpark. Or, at least, that is what I would tell myself; the mournful songs mean I’ve lived sadness and delved into the depths of human misery. That’s kind of deep, right?
Over the past few years, I have noticed I’ve begun to find some positive, happy songs that suck the depression right out of me. I think this is a good sign. I suspect it means I am growing, and my outlook is changing. I’m not sure I will ever walk away from my depressing songs because they are part of me still but, if I can get to a place where happy songs reflect my inner life as much as gloomy ones, I’m on the right path.
And, to end on a positive note because I am heading in a positive direction, enjoy some of these lyrics from a song that inspires me in all the best ways:
“I used to lay low, hiding in the shadows, so don’t give me dark days, I already had those. I’m just trying to figure out how to be myself right now. I don’t wanna lay low, hiding in the shadows. So I wake up, I get out of bed. Stay up, stay out of my head ’cause it’s dangerous and I don’t wanna lose my mind, no. I just wanna shine like the sun when it comes up, run the city from the rooftops ’cause today’s gonna be my day. I just wanna climb to the top of a mountain, standing tall when I’m howlin’ ’cause today’s gonna be my day.” Fitz and the Tantrums, “I Just Wanna Shine”
Suck on that, misery!