Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness of Musicians

When I was a teenager, I began to take an interest to listening to music. I was never confident or articulate enough to look into my immature, teenage brain to ask openly (to anyone who was willing to hang out with me) ‘Why do I like music?’ or, ‘Why do people like music so much?’

My taste in music has changed dramatically, describing the distinctive fine wine isn’t enough. Like a organism, it’s evolved from cringe-worthy 2000 UK pop, angsty pop rock music, outdated electronic and techno dance music, euro-style 80’s/90’s dance bands, synth-pop music, original motion picture soundtracks, independent-labelled bands, local indie bands … but I never asked why I liked music so much.

What particular elements do I really enjoy about the artist? Is it the harmony, their musical technique compared to another band? What are they trying to tell me that I can’t get enough of?

(Maybe people just ‘like it’; there’s no need to obsessively, psycho-analyse it all the time.)

No — I refuse to just accept that it is what it is. I’m that fucking asshole who has to ask why. If things are just accepted as they are without probable explanation whether it’s right or wrong, then there would never be any reason why we learn to discover why the sky is blue, or why civil unrest happens in the world.

I have an affinity for musicians who are able to convey a sense emotional turmoil. I even have a playlist dedicated to collecting sad songs! The beauty of depressing music is that it can be about anything you feel it’s about ( … until the artist explains in an interview it wasn’t about a messy break up after all). Sad music is wonderful and free flowing as I believe it strives to go against the societal expectation of ‘keeping your emotional baggage inside’. This is incredibly sad, especially for men who cannot express themselves without being scrutinized by their peers, or women who cry in the workplace is ‘demonstrably weak’ in not being able to handle aspects of their work. Instead, some of us may drown our sorrows in either bottles of alcohol or drugs, or do both in the local pub where the live solo guitarist plunks melancholic notes for the audience.

I’m convinced that for a lot of people, the more we are in the deepest pits of depression, the more likely we will selectively choose a really great music track with lyrically depressing song. It is incredibly pleasing to our audible senses. For me, it’s like as though it reaffirms my sadness through the musician’s skillful ability to seize of my momentary lapse of emotional vulnerability, and playfully reminding me why I am distraught. It also makes me feel less alone, less frustrated since the artist is burdening all my inconsolable sorrow because they thrive on emotive expression. Magically, their ability to send you back in time to remember a sad moment in your life is truly amazing. When I come across a track in my playlist, I distinctly remember that moment in time as to why I listened to it and what I associate with it. But it’s no longer sadness, it’s significant footnote on my memorable tapestry.


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