Sunday, November 11, 2007

Melancholy Songs That Seem to Help

So, I've been glum lately. In our grieving in the events after my father's death, my sister and I hugged and cried together. This close contact allowed the virus causing her cold to enter my body, incubate, and now leave me sick as a damned dog. And it's cold outside. And I don't have as much money as I'd hoped because of student loan debt. And nothing seems to leave me feeling any better. I find myself thinking, it'd be really nice to just get fall-down drunk and forget about life for awhile. I know it's not the right thing to do, and I know it's not going to happen, but finding myself thinking about it all the time is a bummer. One thing that has brought me some peace is music. As the late great Bob Marley sang, "One good thing about music, when it hits you you feel no pain."

Here are some songs, that are melancholy, but seem to make me feel better. While I don't share the experience that caused their creation, I look at them like postmodern dirges for my father. I am overlaying my grief onto their rythyms and creating my own meaning. Iser and Jauss and Barthes would be pleased.

In no particular order:

#1 The Annuals, "Complete or Competing" I don't know what this song's about, but I know that when that Irish Celtic solo happens at 1:47 into the song, that I want to cry. It reminds me of when my dad would let me hop in and help him drive the bobcat during the bee business. I was but a wee lad at the time. Man, this song is beautiful! Thanks to Tim Boisvert for introducing me to the music.

#2 Neutral Milk Hotel, "Avery Island, April 1st" It's got a heavy bass line, and then someone playing a woeful tune on a trumpet. It makes me feel better. Thanks to Susanna for convincing me that this is one of the great bands of the 1990's.

#3 Wyclef Jean, "Yelé" I don't speak Haitian Creole, nor do I even understand most of what he's saying, but when he moans, "Yele, yele, yele, crie, crie, crie" I don't need the gift of tongues to understand the lamentation for something lost. Thanks to some kid whose name I can't remember at Pizza Hut in Woodstock, Georgia for convincing me that Wyclef was better than hiphop.

#4 Tool, "Eulogy" When I was an angry-young-man in my early 20's, this song meant so many things to me. I was mad at all kinds of things that I felt worked together, ignorant of each other, to keep me from finding happiness. Now, that my dad is gone, this song serves as an adrenaline pumping send-off that has no meaning other than to make me feel better. It is an angry attack on someone who really pissed of its author. To me, it just hypnotizes me for 8:27 and takes away the pain like no Vicodin ever could.

#5 "Curly Locks", Junior Byles This song is a reggae track that speaks of forbidden because the boy has become a Rasta. I don't care about the lyrics, it just reminds me of Marley with her curly locks, and that makes me feel better.

#6 The White Stripes, "I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself" Not really sure what to do in a world without my dad.

#7 Squirrel Nut Zippers, "Twilight" I remember my grandma and my dad dancing to this song together when I put it on their radio in December 1997. I bet neither of them danced since.

#8 Radiohead, "Everything in Its Right Place" In a word, dissonance. Sounds come at you from every corner of this song, and that's how my emotions feel right now. Everything will eventually be in its right place, but right now it feels so discombobulated that I don't know how to tread without opening up some wound. Everything I do reminds me of my dad.

#9 REM, "Imitation of Life" This is one of those songs that is really peppy, happy, and joyful, but that always leaves me feeling nostalgic and sad, but in a good way. I get the same feeling from "Nightswimming" by REM, but I don't like it as much as this one.

#10 Leon Russell, "Back to the Island" My mom and I used to listen to this song as night. It is nothing special, but it really is to me. I don't think anyone really knows this song. It's one that makes me think of all the fun my dad had sailing out there with Burt, of all the longing that he felt for living on the Florida Coast, of how he spent most of his life in Atlanta and how much he hated Winter there.

#11 Fleetwood Mac, "Never Goin' Back Again" This song reminds me of my dad's love of women, especially sexy women. He loved Stevie Nix, Bernadetter Peters, and any woman with big boobs. He loved my mom most of all, and they both loved Fleetwood Mac. This song will leave you happy, even though its about breaking up, I guarantee a good feeling when you're done.

Now I'm done.


chattypatra said...

Mac, I'm glad you've managed to put together a playlist that helps you at this awful time.

I, on the other hand, cannot do that because it has the opposite effect on me. If I play music like that, I start bawling and get into a deep funk.

As a matter of fact, when I was, and was sad about something, I would play music with the express purpose of wallowing in my grief. Of course, back then, "grief" meant a boy that didn't like me back or had wronged me, blah, blah, blah.

What does help me is writing a song or listening to instrumental hymns, or, depending on the depth of my sadness, looking for inspirational songs that will inject some optimism into the mix.

A song I really like was sung by Hoku in her first album. I think it's called Believe. It's very pretty and never fails to make me feel better.

Well, I'm glad you found something that helps. Remember, you have friends who are praying for you. Hang in there!

Paul Dunn said...

Your knowledge of music still astonishes me. I think I am only familiar with 1 of those 11 songs. Then again, I don't really care for songs of sadness and depression. Here are some songs that always make me "feel good":

1. "Tubthumping" by Chumbawamba
2. "Basket Case" by Green Day
3. "Rockstar" by Nickelback
4. "Centerfield" by John Fogerty
5. "Makes Me Wonder" by Maroon 5
6. "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-a-Lot
7. "Good Ol' Boys" by Waylon Jennings
8. "No Rain" by Blind Melon
9. "Karma Chameleon" by Culture Club
10. "Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats

I know it's tough. Try not to make yourself feel any worse though. I can't just tell you to "rub some dirt on it", because that's not going to work. I'm just saying you'll make it.